I’m sure you’ve noticed this as well. Most people tend to get a little bit chubby once they are married. I’ve always put it down to the fact that women generally starve themselves to their smallest dress size in the run-up to their weddings, so a little bit of weight gain after the event is par for the course. And that men are finally getting large home-made meals rustled up by the wife (okay, okay, I know this is a gross generalisation – so go ahead, shoot me) so the pounds tend to pile on.
But what was clear from empirical evidence has now been proven by medical research. Last week, at a press conference in Athens, Dimitris Kiortsis, president of the Hellenic Medical Association for Obesity, announced that abdominal obesity – or in less fancy terms, belly fat – was the most serious health problem among married people. Married men were three times more likely to have big bellies than unmarried men, and married women were twice as likely to be a tad paunchy than their single counterparts.
The survey was conducted on some 17,000-odd married couples between the ages of 20 and 70 and concluded that the reasons for the weight gain were two-fold. One: married couples spent more time slumped on the sofa watching television and eating large meals together than single people. And two: their sex lives dwindled over a period of time so they did not get enough aerobic exercise to burn off all those extra calories they were consuming. (Needless to say, they didn’t make it to the gym either.)
Well, you know how it goes. You’ve spent many years struggling to keep the weight off, trying your best to look buff and well-toned in an attempt to attract a suitable specimen of the opposite sex for some love and romance. When you finally find that special someone and things go well enough to set a date, all your attention is focussed on looking your absolute best on the big day. After all, you’re going to have to live with the pictures (and the interminable video footage) for the rest of your life.
It is any wonder then, that the moment you unpack your bags in your honeymoon suite, you can’t wait to order up a hamburger and fries from room service, washed down with liberal quantities of beer? You can’t skip dessert after a slap-up meal at the fancy hotel restaurant. And all those sexual calisthenics the night before mean that you are ready for a huge fry-up at breakfast.
So, by the time you come back home to start life as a freshly-minted married couple, you are already a few kilos heavier. And then, it’s a slippery slope to borderline obesity as you entertain – and are entertained by – friends and family to celebrate your new status. Once things settle down a bit, you heave a sigh of relief to finally sit down to a proper meal with your spouse, rather than gobbling a hurriedly cobbled-together sandwich as you did in your single days.
Then there’s the fact that sometimes new wives take the whole appealing to a man through his stomach a tad too seriously. And more often than not, men fall for the gambit.
But however things pan out in every individual marriage, the end result is that most husbands and wives are much fatter a year after their wedding day. Soon, as one kid arrives followed by another, the pregnancy fat takes up permanent residence around the woman’s midriff. And the husband seems to put on weight almost as if in empathy with his partner’s increased girth.
Yes, husbands and wives do begin to look like each other after a few years of marriage. Or at the very least, their bellies certainly do. So, why do both men and women let go of themselves as soon as the ring is on the finger and the curtains are up in the new matrimonial home? Is it because neither of them really cares about being sexy and appealing to the other now that he or she is a done deal? Do married people no longer care about how they appear to their spouses because they take them for granted? Or is it marriage itself that takes the fizz out of things? Does the early excitement of married sex fade too quickly, becoming a boring, bland, vanilla version of what went before? Does one set of appetites replace another once the initial thrill of waking up to the person you love wears off? As the weight piles on, do you end up finding the pork belly simmering gently in the pan more appealing than the little porker snoring in the marital bed?
Going by recent research, it would certainly seem so. It’s not for nothing that alarm bells start going off in a marriage the moment the husband or wife starts on a new diet or exercise regimen to lost weight. The general view is that this is a signal that the newly-slim party is cheating on his or her spouse – or is, at least, thinking about it. And in most cases, this suspicion is right on the button. So, maybe, just maybe, married folks should just make their peace with those big bellies. After all, the alternative could be a lot worse.