One’s relationship with food and one’s body size, shape and image may have a strong impact on the couple relationship. The need to have a perfect body, together with the need for admiration in the eyes of the other can be shared by both partners. How one looks in the eyes of the other can have a serious impact on one’s sexual relationship. The rejection by one’s partner, because one is too fat or too thin, as well as being seen by the partner as sexually undesirable, can be extremely painful. Our nation is infatuated with slimness. Diet centers, slimnastic classes, weight reduction support groups, and fitness salons are prospering like never before. Dieting accounts for the fastest growing industry in the United States. A large popular industry has appeared in the last 25 years. Newspaper, magazine, radio and TV coverage of anorexia and later bulimia is unprecedented. While much if it is a warning against the danger of self-starvation as well as gorging and purging, there is an affirmation of our culture’s attitude that thin is beautiful.
Healthy partners, however, can support each other in achieving a positive regard of one’s self in relation to the other. Dining out, dining in, watching the super bowl or an episode of “Upstairs, Down Stairs”, all involve food and nurturance. The preparation of food as well as the purchasing of food can often be done with the other in mind or as a shared activity. Couples can go to the gym together and encourage each other in developing a healthy self-regard. While this may not compensate for unhealthy patterns in relation to food and body image that were developed early, it can be a start in the development of the healing process.
Dianne Heller Kaminsky, LCSW, BCD
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