Ever noticed how in sitcoms the husband is always bigger than the wife? He’ll be a pretty husky guy and the wife is generally slimmer and (thought to be) more attractive? Fresh Prince? According to Jim? Family Matters? Heck, The Simpsons? Why does that notion prevail, time and time again? A new study might shed some light on it.
A recently released study from the July issue of Social Psychological and Personality Science says that marital satisfaction is higher when the wife has a lower body mass index (BMI) than her husband:
The four-year study of 169 newlywed couples found that husbands were more satisfied initially and wives were more satisfied over time when the fairer sex had a lower body mass index — a common measure of body fat.
The importance of relative weight may vary between couples as well as between cultures. Ninety-four percent of the partners involved in the study were white.
“The emphasis on weight is an American and European value,” said Heitler. “The finding may be very different among the black community. In Africa, weight is a sign of fertility and voluptuousness. Heavier women are prized in that culture.”
The article also pointed out a huge truism: unhappiness can lead to weight gain, not just the other way around. In other words, problems testing the marriage might trigger the weight gain.
We’re taught not to be shallow, that when we say “For better or for worse” we’re taking in the whole person, not just their outer appearance. And that is true. But we also know countless husbands and wives who complain that their partner has “let themselves go” after a certain point. After marriage, we tend to get a little comfortable and a lot busier and our weight can suffer as a result. But we’re adults, right? We should also feel comfortable enough to let our spouses know that we’re concerned that they’re carrying around something extra. Right?