By Perpetual Umeaku
A case in point is Paul Dennis (real names withheld), who planned to get married and so wanted to go into a relationship that will end in marriage. So, like many men, he told family and friends to help him find someone he could marry. A major attribute he asked them to look out for is a tall, dark and slim lady. He was so strict to these criteria that any lady brought to him that did not meet the exact element he wanted was turned down. This, he did for about six months until he got what he wanted. This undoubtedly, was a major decisive factor for marrying his wife, Nkechi and probably his only attraction. But the question is: since marriage is largely understood to be a lifetime endeavour, will Paul maintain his love for his wife if she eventually gains more weight as their marriage advances with time?
Another case was a man who incredibly broke up with his girlfriend just because the girl gladly introduced him to her parents and he saw that her mother was fat. He believed that the girl will eventually become fat someday when they get married.
Some of the married women spoken to admitted that there is an increase in weight after marriage. Giving their personal experience with their husband as regards the issue, some said it was a case of trying to stay in shape to give him the attraction while others said they still have their husband love and encouragement in spite of the increase.
Mrs Mary Odinnatu, a mother of three said she's been married for over eight years and have tried to maintain a weight balance. She noted that her husband was attracted to her slim body when they first met and wants her to maintain her shape if she wants his continuous admiration. She said: "My husband and I knew that I have the tendency to be fat because my parents are fat and this is why I have continued to manage my figure by exercising and eating the right things and that is why after I have given back to my children, I still have my figure and he admires it so much"
Habiba Suleiman on her own part said her husband loves her size. "From time, I have the tendency for being fat but I controlled it so I am just a little fatter than before after two kids and my husband loves me because he likes big back side, flat tummy and I dress well to his taste, sometimes he buys what he wants me to wear and tells me what should be my hair style". To her, packaging and having a high self esteem about oneself is the best way to have your desired shape as people tend to see you just the way you view yourself.
Mrs Monica Okongwu, also a mother of three says "I was fat when my husband married me and as a mother of three, I am much fatter. I didn't get less admiration from my husband as we share a bond that gets renewed by the day. One thing I know is that he encourages me to change my lifestyle and my weight has since reduced but this has never affected the love we share", she confessed.
Agreeing that there has been a significant increase in weight since she got married, Mrs Evelyn Ayuba however said she does not know if her weight increase bothers her husband. She said, "he has never said anything to me as regards my weight so I don't know if it bothers him, but you know it bothers me because I want to appear smart when I wear clothes", she disclosed.
Understandably, there are diverse factors that are responsible for weight gain in women during marriage. Some of these reasons, according to experts are a natural response to changes in the body which could result from marriage or a coincidence with the time most women get marriage. Other likely reasons include the fact that married ladies are no longer trying to attract a partner, pregnancy, attitude of women towards cooking and eating, placing family eating preference above their own, unhappiness in marriage, unresolved issues, lack of time for exercise, or lack of encouragement from their spouses to dieting and exercising, among other reasons.
Ronke Ajibero, a Sociologist and a mother of two who also agreed that there was a physical increase in weight after her marriage, identified some of the factors responsible. She explained that "when a woman takes in, the appetite changes and the rate at which she eats increases. After delivery, breastfeeding makes her eat excessively. Also, wealth and laziness of some women, poor maintenance of the body, poverty, inadequate medical attention and low mentality of women in giving birth and poor family planning could be possible causes", she noted.
Giving a sociological point of view, Ronke said "human society is characterized by change and its attendant effects and the change of the human body is not in exception". She agreed that women are vulnerable to increase in size after delivery and this can equally change the perception of their husbands towards them as most men today want slim women and which is however subjective to socio cultural believes and personal philosophy of individuals."
Speaking on whether their perception has changed, Lawrence Aiyu (not real name) said his preference does not favour fat women rather he prefers slim but full body type adding that that is how his wife has been before and after their wedding, even after having two kids. He said this is an attraction that he wants maintained as it can lead him to look elsewhere. He added that he would not caution his wife if he notices any addition of weight as there are other nice looking ones outside.
Matthew Garba, a newly married man said before he got married, he had the preference for fatter ladies but love changed his choice when he met his wife who has a slim body. He however he is used to her slim body and will like her to remain like that, saying however that he will not be less attracted to his wife when body increase becomes inevitable but will make sure he encourages her to eat healthily and live a lifestyle that will help her stay in shape.
With the foregoing responses, it is obvious that although some men have preference for fatter ladies, most men prefer to have slim ladies as they are believed to be more attractive than others, experts say care should be taken by couples in handling this, so that selfish desires will not affect their decision which has in most cases caused setbacks and unhappy marriage.
To this, a marriage counsellor, Cecilia Onuoha said weight should not be a problem in marriage if it was not the only element that is adjudged to attract spouses to each other. According to her, "strong marriages should be built on many factors besides physical attraction and if that aspect has changed, it is still possible to find satisfaction in all the other elements of married life as marriage is designed to be a deeper relationship than dating".
Onuoha noted that the feeling of unattractiveness in a spouse as a result of weight increase is a natural phenomenon that should not be used selfishly to cause unhealthy relationship that will eventually cause painful separations.
"When the issue of loss of attraction is raised, it is often narrowed to the physical body as the attractive lady you dated in her 20s now turns to be a 50 year old woman with wrinkles, extra weight and a completely different fashion sense. Women too can feel less attractive as their husband age but in this case, spouses should know that body changes with time.
"A way to avoid this is to try to form a strong mental image of her in the prime of her life and continue to see her as they both ages. Also, meaningful conversation about what you both have in common can help in the situation", she advised.
In conclusion, it has been proven by research that weight increase is linked to the cause of many problems especially health and marriage. While this can be inevitable in some instances, it is important that one adopts fitting lifestyles for good health and to remain attractive. In addition to this, women should also develop a good fashion sense that will suit their body type and shape to help maintain their attractiveness to their spouse, thereby also reducing the rate at which failures occur as a result of weight increase.