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Can Your Marriage Survive Dieting?

I know there is no research to support this statement, but I am fairly certain that diets must be one of the leading causes of divorce in this country. Okay, that’s clearly an overstatement, but I can tell you from both personal and professional experience that diets often create conflict between couples.

It starts out innocently enough. With a wellspring of enthusiastic motivation, you stock the fridge with fresh produce, clear the pantry of trans-fatty/ highly-processed/food-like substances and you rejoin the gym. You enlist your spouse’s help by giving them permission to remind you of your commitment as they notice you slowly going off the rails. It’s a much accepted recipe for success. That is until your newly empowered spouse cautiously utters the words,

“Are you sure you want to eat that?”

just as you pull Ben & Jerry’s from the freezer.


Emerson’s famous phrase, “The shot heard round the world” refers to the first shot of the American Revolution. Questioning someone about their food intake, however, can be met with the same call for battle and resonate just as loudly. It really doesn’t matter how it’s said; it’s almost never welcome and usually produces whopping resentments. The room becomes thick with bitterness the second those words escape the poor, unsuspecting, well-meaning partner’s mouth.

I could write an entire blog on why you should never diet with a spouse, or enlist your spouse’s help with your weight-loss plans, but it will most likely fall on deaf ears. This is a marital mistake destined to go on for eternity despite all my good efforts to obliterate it. So, I’m going to keep it brief for now and just offer one brilliant tip that Sherri Schmick, an H3 guest, had suggested to another guest.

Instead of giving your spouse permission to call you out when you’re straying from your food plan, call yourself out. Sherri suggested:

    • Take a piece of paper and use your own hand-writing to write something like, “Remember Your Goal!” or “Will you regret this?” Laminate the sign and give it to your spouse.
    • If he or she needs to give you a gentle nudge they can do so using your words in your hand-writing.
    •  Just for safe measure, you might also put something on the back of the sign like, “Don’t be mad at the holder of this sign. You gave them permission to do this.”
    • You might also implement a rule or two for how often the sign can be flashed. If your spouse is flashing it five times a day then chances are, you aren’t committed to the weight-loss journey or they are just trying to annoy you. Either way, the sign becomes ineffective.


In the interim, ask yourself if enlisting your spouse’s help in your weight-loss journey is really a healthy decision for your relationship. If you are not committed to the effort then nothing anyone else says or does can fix that problem. Whether you realize it or not, weight-loss is an inside job.