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          Spouses Who Let Themselves Go

          September 04, 2002

          There is a difference between being comfortable in a marriage and being lazy in a marriage. Dr. Phil has advice for spouses who have changed and want to get themselves and their marriages back on track.

        • If you are the spouse who changed, ask yourself how it became OK in your mind. What happened to make you decide that you were willing to accept being less fun to live with, less attractive, or less outgoing, etc.?
        • If you began to change externally after the marriage, chances are you began to change internally as well. Don’t just focus on the external. If you aren’t the same person on the inside, what else is different? Are you less motivated? Less confident? Less social?
        • Although weight is a common symptom of a spouse letting him or herself go, understand that this isn’t about weight. It’s about re-engineering a marriage. Re-engineering is different from changing. It assumes that there are no sacred cows. Be open to challenging and changing anything in your relationship that is contributing to the problem.
        • Do not allow yourself to feel shame over where you are today. You are where you are — and you have to deal with it in the here and now. Don’t beat yourself up over it because it will hinder your ability to move forward. You don’t want the sense of shame that comes with not being proud of your body image to affect your self-image.
        • Make a commitment to dealing with psychological problems psychologically. This is different from having a psychological problem and dealing with it by going to the refrigerator. In other words, don’t self-medicate with food.
        • If you turn to food, redefine what is a reward. Don’t allow yourself to justify your behavior by saying, “I’m alone, my spouse isn’t paying attention to me, so I’ll reward myself with ice cream.” That is sweet poison.
        • Clear the decks. If there are things between you and your mate that you are upset about, and you have been eating your way through the conflict instead of talking your way through it, that needs to change. Communicate your concerns and frustrations to your partner and make sure you are heard.
        • Don’t put off making changes that could save your marriage today. As Dr. Phil says, “I see people after divorce who have lost weight, are exercising and happy. I want to say to them, ‘If you had done that while you were married, you wouldn’t have gotten a divorce!'” Having to go back into the social market forces people to make changes that make themselves more appealing and interesting. Why not make those changes now?
        • Remember the formula for a successful relationship:

          1) It’s based on a solid, underlying friendship. What does that mean? Friends spend time together. They share and support one another. Friends don’t ignore each other while zoning out and watching TV.

          2) It has to meet the needs of the two people involved. Discover what your needs are so you can articulate them to your partner. When you’ve done that, you need to find out what your partner’s needs are and work together to meet them.

        • Find out how your lifestyle is contributing to the problems in your marriage by doing a lifestyle audit.
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