My friends Scott and Cathy are breaking up. I guess I should have seen it coming. In recent years, they let themselves go until they were each about 25 pounds overweight. A few months ago, they both started walking for exercise, but never together. One would turn up at parties wearing stylish new clothes, while the other would stay home, ostensibly with a head cold, allergies, or work deadlines. Cathy asked me for weight watchers coupons and ediets discounts, and her subsequent weight loss was dramatic. She started wearing her makeup a little differently and got a cute new “˜do at the hair salon. Scott stopped drinking and joined a gym, and he quickly began to lose weight. When they announced a few months later that they were getting a divorce, I realized the signs had been there the whole time. I call this tendency to get in shape in preparation for returning to the dating scene “Break-Up Fitness.”
Get fit for your spouse
Unfortunately, people rarely make big changes for a long-term partner. Don’t relationship experts say that one of the signs that your spouse is having an affair is a sudden, formerly absent attentiveness to appearance? And yet you have to wonder, if wives and husbands took a few steps to become more attractive to their spouses, would it head divorce off at the pass?
Often, there are big problems in a marriage. Scott and Cathy had differences in the way they viewed money. In other words, she held down a job with a regular paycheck, while he was an entrepreneur who often suffered big losses. She scrimped and saved, while he owned three cars, including a Porsche that he had trouble paying for.
So, yes, there obviously were other serious issues that needed to be resolved. But it is also a known fact that small actions can produce dramatic effects. What if one or both of them had made the decision to look great for their partner before things started to deteriorate? Not just going out on the town great, but everyday great.
Lose weight to show you care
There are lots of innovative ideas out there for putting the romance back in your marriage, but you don’t have to wrap yourself in cellophane to show your mate you care. For women, splurge on some highlights in your hair. Buy a pair of hand weights and devise five-minute workouts you can fit into your day. For guys, deal with the beer gut, even if it means that you reduce your beer consumption. Fix her dinner once in a while. Go on a diet together–low-fat can still be tasty. Start some joint fitness routines, like riding bikes or taking walks. Remember that activity doesn’t have to be strenuous to begin melting away the pounds.
It seems pretty clear that the feeling of being taken for granted can start a couple down the long bumpy road that leads to divorce”¦and it’s also pretty clear that the reverse can be true: a feeling of mutual appreciation and respect can stop the deterioration that leads to a break-up. That’s what I call “Stay-Married Fitness.”