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QUESTION: I love my wife dearly, but since we turned 45 she has put on a lot of weight and I struggle to find her attractive. My wife’s appetite for sex hasn’t diminished and she snaps that she likes being “curvy” if I try to mention her size. I feel you have to stay trim to stay desirable. How can I broach this with her?
ANSWER: I have lost count of the number of wedding ceremonies I have attended that included a soulful rendition of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116, with its famous line: ‘Love is not love, which alters when it alteration finds’.
We all want to believe love is unconditional and our partner’s feelings will not change if we become ill, penniless or, indeed, overweight. However, while a parent’s love for a child can leap any hurdle, that s not necessarily the case with romantic passion.
Desire, I’m afraid, often seems to be perilously conditional.
The fact is we are all hardwired to find certain physical attributes attractive, and human nature means it can be difficult to over-look the loss of those qualities in our spouses.
Any female readers who feel this man is being over-judgmental should ask themselves whether they’d want to make love to their husbands if they had raging halitosis or huge beer bellies. I would even argue that only a negligent spouse would allow their other half to transform into a less appealing version of themselves without intervening.
I do believe the giving and accepting of constructive advice is crucial for a relationship to function. You can t just say “Love me the way I am!” and then sit there like a slob on the sofa.
Keeping yourself spruce is the finest compliment you can pay to your beloved (though I m not talking about becoming a Madonna-style exercise bore). There’s a certain arrogance about declaring your partner should desire you, warts - or spare tyre - and all.
In your case, I am taking it on trust that your wife has gained an excessive amount of weight and that you are an irreproachably trim, groomed specimen. Since your spouse protests she “likes being curvy”, I would concentrate on the health issues at stake.
Why don’t you tell her you feel exercise and a better diet would keep her longer on this planet by your side? Lead the way by taking her for runs or to the gym and by ordering healthier groceries and cutting down on booze. Compliment her if she loses weight.
If your wife rejects all your suggestions, then you’re going to have to be more upfront. You will simply have to confess you find her sexier when she is slimmer.
Your wife was presumably slender when you met, so point out that we all like to see a glimmer of the younger self in the person we love. Say you adore her, whatever her size, but you find her unbelievably sexy when she’s closer to her original silhouette.
Of course, there’s a chance your wife will resist all your entreaties because she’s much happier in her curvier skin (some women who declare this are in denial).
If so, my guess is you will reach an impasse that can be untangled only by consulting a relationship counsellor. It can be hard to acknowledge that our erotic tastes and triggers are pretty fixed by middle age. - Daily Mail