Ah, marriage: the ceremonial letting out of ye old gut once you've locked it down something permanent. According to the popular lore, studies and jokes, it is us gals who do the biggest pile-on post-nuptials, before kids, after kids, just thinking about having kids, and sometimes literally as we stride out the aisle, suddenly revealing a stash of donuts in our bouquet. But a new study says it's men who gain more after the big day.
The scientists used data from Project EAT that monitored the diet, physical activity, and weight status of about 2,300 young adults in the Midwest. About 35% of the total sample were single or casually dating, 42% were in a committed relationship, and 23% were married.
The results suggest that married men were 25% more likely to be overweight or obese than single men or men in committed relationship. The scientists defined overweight as people having a body mass index over 25.
Previous studies have warned us that women gain more after marriage, while men gain more after divorce, though for most people, that weight gain was small and not a significant health risk. (Other prior research says men and women both gain roughly 6 to 9 pounds after getting hitched.)
Somehow though, in spite of this unilateral relaxing that seems inevitable once you drop the exhausting levels of courtship required to lure the bait to the hitchin' box, our cultural perception is almost entirely that women are the ones who "let themselves go."
From an Ask Men article about it (I know):
It's a theory — and a fear — that has haunted many men: Will she get lazy with her appearance after the wedding bells?
And these jokes I found in the comments of a story about post-wedding weight gain for women:
thats because single women come home see whats in the fridge and go to bed... married women come home see whats in the bed and go to the fridge!
How do you turn a fox into a whale ?................Marry her !!
Har-dee-ho! These jokes are right up there with the other major post-wedding sentiment cried to women round the world: PLEASE GOD DON'T EVER CUT YER HAIR. But it's bigger than that, even. From the pressure to wed and tips to get him to ask (without realizing you made him do it!), to those terrible engagement/wedding photos and cake toppers that portray women dragging men to the altar, we talk about marriage mainly as something women want, and they'll do anything to get it. But once they get it? Ye olde switcheroo, my friend. As if our entire plan for world domination hinges on trapping every last hetero dude, plumping up and denying him sex.
There are logical reasons why a woman in particular might gain weight post-official knot-tie, at least in the short-term: Many women lose weight for the flurry of photos on the big day and to get into the right dress, so after marriage, there's no reasonable expectation to maintain an event-specific diet (which I'm not condoning or judging, merely acknowledging the reality of). Men historically haven't endured this pressure in equal measure, though it's likely they are more than ever, now — here is an eight-week wedding workout plan designed just for men.
But there are also plenty of reasons both folks could gain weight after getting married, like just getting comfortable, or others, like changing your eating habits, activity levels, hormones, and yeah, being lazy. That could happen to a man or a woman.
But something about the perception that women as having some innate need for trickery has always meant we are stuck with the rep for the bait and switch. Even if men are now the ones more likely to put on weight after the wedding, we all know that there will be nowhere near the onslaught of worried articles advising them how to avoid it, the way there always have been for women.
Over at Redbook, writer Aaron Traister doesn't sweat the news. Instead, he theorizes it might be a way to avoid cheating.
Sometimes it's really hard for everyone involved to "just say no."
Obviously, you should try remove yourself from these situations, but it also helps if you let yourself go for an extra layer of protection/prevention.
I'm arguing that part of the reason we get husky and start exclusively wearing Under Armour polo shirts and relaxed-fit jeans is as a defense mechanism. It's like repellent against sexual advances from someone who isn't your wife. Have you been to a Little League game recently? You know how zebras bunch together so that predators will have a harder time singling one out from the herd? That's what it's like at Little League games, but with spare tires, polo shirts, and ill-fitting pants. Middle-aged dads huddle together and blend into this amorphous dad-blob. We are untouchable, and—more importantly—unf*ckable.
He's right: I have never looked twice at a guy in relaxed-fit jeans. Except to laugh. Here's hoping the news of the married man's greater penchant for expansion will give us all a few laughs. Because for once in a study about weight, women are not the punchline: The only thing the research noted about the crafty married women's behavior post-wedding was that she is more likely to eat breakfast five days a week. Shockingly sensible.
Image via Pixel 4 Images/Shutterstock.