A few days ago, a newlywed woman wrote an article on The Huffington Post about her husband telling her that he would divorce her if her weight got to what she calls a PBN—pretty big number. Despite only weighing 110 pounds, he decided to give her a warning, although he let her know he would get her help if she ever got close to approaching the PBN. But, if she didn’t lose the weight, he was out, and she rightfully took offense to his statements. By the end of the article, she stated she had made peace with her husband’s ultimatum, having done quite a bit of research and finding that a lot of couples tend to include some sort of legal language related to weight in their prenuptial agreements. The newlywed felt every spouse has a deal breaker in his or her relationship and weight just so happened to be her husband’s so she couldn’t be mad that he laid the consequences of that choice out on the line. I still say she had a right to have a ‘tude.
Before even addressing the silliness of a weight clause, if gaining a significant amount of pounds was a no-no for her husband, he should have mentioned that before the wedding—when you lay out all of those other expectations you have for your spouse. If that’s something significant enough to make him consider divorce, then a pre-marital discussion should have been had about it. Perhaps he was too ashamed to bring it up, which would be understandable, considering what we’re talking about here. I am in absolute agreement that if someone starts to pick up weight or do anything down the line that you have an issue with, you have a right to voice concerns to your partner, no matter how trivial they may be. However, when we’re talking about the idea of someone leaving over weight, that’s a bit extreme.
I’ve actually had this discussion with one of my guy friends and I told him my issue really boils down to the fact that if a man couldn’t handle me gaining weight—something that can come off just like it came on—what would happen if I was paralyzed in a car accident or had a breast removed because of cancer, or something worse, what then? If a man would leave over my weight affecting my physical appearance, surely he couldn’t really honor vows to stand beside me in sickness and in health where I’d be affected far beyond the physical. It doesn’t even have to be that extreme, the simple aging process can make somebody look like a totally different person after wrinkles and sagging set in, does that give the spouse the right to leave then? It’s those factors that make it hard for me to imagine having a serious discussion about something like weight gain possibly stunting the growth of my marriage. That debate ended up leading us to a talk on what he would want if the shoe was on the other foot, and he said if he became deformed in some sort of way or physically dependent on his wife to the point that he couldn’t have relations with her, he would give her permission to sleep with someone else. Like a weight-clause prenup, I was opposed to that as well. If you’re going to sleep with someone else you might as well leave me totally, permission to go outside of our marriage is not something I see myself ever granting. Again, what is the point of vowing ‘til death do us part and all of those other things if when it comes down to looking like you did in your 20s or him leaving, he’s out.
The funny part is whenever this discussion comes up women are quick to point out the fact that they don’t want a man lugging around a beer belly in his 40s or a receding hairline either, yet men never seem to think about having to stay in shape for their woman. That’s likely because women aren’t placing more emphasis on how a man isn’t allowed to change physically than on how he loves, respects, and treats her. There appears to be a lot of truth to the saying that men get with a woman hoping she’ll never change but some things just have to be accepted. No it’s not cool to let yourself go physically after you trap somebody in to marriage, as some men see it, but the idea of jumping ship because of hitting a PBN isn’t cool either. I can’t speak on what someone should do if they tell their partner their weight is getting out of hand and they refuse to change, but I think the idea of putting a limit on how many pounds a women can gain with no regard to the number childbirth, medications, and the simple aging process can have on one’s body is not OK.
Would you ever add a weight clause into a prenup for your husband or sign one he gave you?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.