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Study Shows Mixed-Weight Couples Can Have More Conflict

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – One topic that can be especially difficult for couples to talk about: Your partner’s weight.

A new study published in The Journal of Social and Personal Relationships shows more conflict between mixed-weight couples. That’s when one person is overweight and the other is not.

We spoke with one couple who showed us what helped them get healthy in their relationships and their lives.

One year and 50 pounds ago, Matt and Jessie Brouwer say they weren’t necessarily in a bad place.

“I think we’re in a better place now,” Jessie said.

Years of working at an Italian restaurant, not working out and a toddler took its toll on Matt in terms of pounds, and on Matt and Jessie in terms of their life.

“When he gets home from work and the kids and I want to go to the park and he doesn’t have enough energy because he’s exhausted, that could negatively affect our relationship,” Jessie said.

A recent study found that mixed-weight couples have more daily fights, especially when the couples eat together often. The situation appears to be even worse when the woman is overweight and the man is not.

“It doesn’t feel good when you have someone in your family that’s in shape and you aren’t. It doesn’t feel good to not feel like you fit her,” Matt said.

STEELE Fitness Director Joeleen Kielkucki has seen the phenomenon in many of her couple clients.

“Maybe the spouse that is more physically fit gets more attention and that causes turmoil,” Kielkucki said.

Researchers say the more support for a partner, the less negativity there is in a relationship. They say that might be the best place for an intervention, because it not only improves the health of a relationship, it improves the health of your partner.

Betsy Schow wrote a book called, “Finished Being Fat,” and her advice: “For the wife, I would say the validation and love that you feel needs to come from you first. For the husband, just give as much love and support as you can and keep the focus on other great things in your relationship.

For the Brouwers, the weight loss meant sacrifices on both sides.

“Getting up at 4:30 a.m., it’s tough, but having her by my side definitely made it easier,” Matt said.

Jessie picked up most of the slack at home while Matt took on the STEELE Fitness Challenge several mornings per week. At first he was dropping 20, then 30 pounds.

“I wanted to make a change in my life for my family’s life. I could see I was not going in a good direction in being there for my family and kids,” Matt said.

Now there’s what Matt calls good nagging: A gentle reminder to grab a water instead of a pop.

And the good place both feel in their health and their lives.

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