As a bariatric patient, your life will change dramatically after surgery. It is important to understand that many bariatric patients experience significant changes in their relationships within the first few years after surgery. The impact of bariatric surgery on relationships- specifically with your partner or spouse- can be profound. In this week’s blog post, we will discuss the necessity of having a conversation with your partner about these changes prior to surgery, the partnership benefits you both can experience together, understanding the original context of your relationship, and navigating changes together after surgery.
Have A Conversation Before Surgery
It can be helpful to sit down with your partner before having your bariatric surgery to talk about the weight loss that will expectedly come post-operatively. If you and your partner met prior to your lower weight, this conversation can be helpful to have, as for some partners, it can be “uncomfortable” seeing your significant other smaller. This may be stir up jealousy and insecurity in your partner as you lose weight, particularly if you experience more confidence in yourself and self-esteem along your weight loss journey.
For those who met their partner at a lower weight, your post-operative journey may be met with excitement and/or advocacy for you as you continue to lose weight from surgery. Some patients state that they feel like they’re traveling back in time with their partners to their “old self.”
Everyone’s relationships are different. Some patients have supportive partners who understands the Ups and Downs that come with being a bariatric patient. Others will find themselves in an emotionally stressful relationship where they may lack the support from their spouse/partner that they expected to have along the way. It is therefore not uncommon after surgery for relationships and marriages to dissolve within a few years after the procedure when the emotional and psychologic impacts of surgery are most pronounced. However, for some couples, there may be some mutual benefits that results from having the decision to undergo surgery.
Partnership Benefits From Bariatric Surgery
In relationships when both partners struggle with the disease of obesity and one undergoes weight loss surgery, the other may benefit symbiotically. As the bariatric patient is transforming their lifestyle with the bariatric basics (ie: making habits out of following a high protein, low carb diet, taking vitamins, drinking water, and moving their body regularly), their partner can benefit as a product of being in the same household.
Sometimes having surgery can inspire the other partner to pursue surgery themself or anti-obesity medications alongside dietary and lifestyle changes to kick-start weight loss. Other times, it can motivate the spouse to live a healthier lifestyle as a means of being a supportive partner by encouraging one another to stay consistent on each others’ goals.
Understanding The Original Context Of Your Relationship
If you’re worried about how your relationship may be impacted by bariatric surgery, it is important to think about the original context of how your relationship was founded. How did you and your partner first meet? Was food a main factor? If so, this may challenge your relationship as your complete dependence / emotional crutch on food will shift after surgery.
Was your relationship founded specifically on the sexual attractiveness of each other’s size? If so, your relationship will be impacted as you lose weight and your body composition significantly changes after surgery.
Does your relationship struggle with low self-esteem and abandonment issues? Is there a dependence on one partner to maintain a certain weight in order to provide security for the relationship so that they won’t leave the other for someone else? What happens to the relationship if the person undergoing bariatric surgery loses 50-70% of their excess body weight (or more)?
Do you and your partner have a codependency on food and/or overeating together? What happens if you are no longer able to eat the same quantity or types of food as your partner anymore? Binge eating behaviors will not be possible after surgery when your stomach is reduced by >75%. This can significantly impact the relationship you share with your partner as your priorities and lifestyle changes will shift away from food into other areas and different interests.
Navigating Changes Together After Surgery
Bariatric surgery is a lifestyle and diet re-haul. As you begin to lose weight, explore a more nutrient dense whole foods lifestyle, feel better, glean more self confidence and self-esteem… your world begins to open up. You may experience less pain as before surgery, exciting you to be more active and to venture out more. It is important that you have a partner are prepared and are willing to handle the changes that will come to you after bariatric surgery. Is your partner willing to join you on your new experiences? Are they willing to change some of their own behaviors and lifestyle habits alongside you to be your support partner? These are important conversations to have with your partner in preparation for surgery but also throughout the first 1-2 years when these changes are most pronounced.
Prepare Your Relationship By First Preparing Your Pantry
The first experiment you can do in helping your partner prepare for your changes after surgery, is to begin preparing your pantry. Pantry preparation begins with meal prepping. If meal prepping seems intimidating to you, let us help relieve some of the stress by providing you with a FREE Meal Planner Template!
Our FREE Meal Planner Template will help you:
- Think of fresh new recipe ideas
- Ensure you have bariatric friendly snack options on-the-ready
- Choose healthier fast food and take-out options
- Avoid inflammatory foods that can make it hard to lose weight
- Understand macros more clearly after surgery
- Create an easy meal prep template to use for the week
- Troubleshoot the barriers that get in the way of your meal prep success