When pretty wife turns 'fat and ugly'

Heavy issue for men

WHEN you met your wife, she was a sex goddess, with a beautiful body to die for. Two years and a baby down the line, she has put on a considerable amount of weight, has a big tummy and rolls of fat.

According to Asiphe Ndlela, a psychologist, when this happens most men do not find their women attractive any longer.

"They either start looking for another woman or stop any affection with them. Some even go to the extent of telling their women that they are no longer attractive or are a turn-off."

Ndlela said most men did not know this could have grave psychological effects on women.

She said there was nothing more damaging to a woman's ego as hearing that her body is too flawed to be sexually appealing, particularly if the words are coming out of her husband or partner's mouth.

She said research on marriage problems by psychologist Wendy Langford revealed that many women based too much of their personal happiness on the approval and love of their husbands.

"Being able to be there for your partner by listening to her and finding out what causes her to eat, why she is unmotivated, is helpful. When she realises she doesn't want to let you and herself down she may find the motivation needed to lose weight. Being open to what she has to say and being helpful will likely get her to stay focused."

Margot Howard-Brown, a weight specialist, said most women gained weight immediately after giving birth and it took some time for a new mother to change theeating habits she adopted during her nine months of pregnancy and months of breastfeeding.

"Many women gain weight when they're pregnant in that first year after the baby, especially a first time mother. It is tiring and stressful. When men judge them for the way they look, they get depressed.

"The more you talk about her weight and lack of fitness, the more likely she is to add to her well of anger and resentment."

She said some men made the mistake of comparing their partners with a celebrity who loses all the baby weight in a few weeks.

She said most of these celebrities had support, including a personal trainer.

Howard-Brown said eating was tied into your feelings, and often food substituted for love.

"A woman may eat to nurture herself. If she is stressed and tired from sleepless nights of mothering a baby and manning the household for instance, she might 'reward' herself with a chocolate or piece of meat just for getting a lift.

"Being with an emotionally unavailable man often causes women to overeat or develop physical ailments."

She said if you're turned off by an overweight partner, the fix is in confronting the emotional issues behind the weight issue.

Zuko Mathyila, a male activist in Cape Town, defended men who were unsettled by their women's sudden weight gain. He said most men found it extremely difficult to deal with change.

He said it was generally hard and somewhat upsetting for men to deal with the fact that their sexual partner had become fat.

"Studies show that very few men like change.

"It is a well-known fact the world over; traditionally society has conditioned men towards routine. It is perfectly natural for them to feel this way.

"Sometimes that type of change from their chosen life partners was not expected."

He said most men married a woman because they found her attractive, intelligent and shared the same values.

Moreover, men liked attractive women. Fat was not attractive. He said men expected their wives would gain a reasonable amount of weight [but not too much].

"It is inevitable for them to be disappointed and angry."

He added that when women were in a comfortable relationship, they often stopped taking care of themselves.

"That's why most men then end up checking out other women and seeking new pastures."