Body size is only one of the many factors that contribute to overall marriage satisfaction and can be important to both men and women when choosing a partner. But does having a thin wife make a marriage more blissful? Raliat Ahmed examines why marrying a slim spouse can actually make a couple happier.
Marriages are happier when wives are thinner than their husbands, according to a new study.
Researchers at the University of Tennessee in the United States studied the BMI (body mass index, a common measure of obesity) of nearly 170 newlywed couples, along with their marital satisfaction over time.
But Mr. Bertrand Nwokeji, a weight management expert and an instructor in a gym disagrees with the notion that slimmer women make a marriage happier.
“It is not about size or shape. If a woman is good she is good irrespective of weight, height, colour and what have you,” he says
“The women that come to the gym don’t come because they are not happy in their marriages or because their husbands are complaining, they come mostly for health reasons.
“Some obese women are advised by their doctors to shed weight because of the risk of heart disease and other ailments associated with being overweight. Young girls also enrol in the gym on a doctor’s advice because sometimes, it is difficult to conceive when weight is excessive. Losing some pounds makes it easier for conception to take place and so most times, ladies are advised to register at a gym,” Nwokeji says.
Nwokeji further says that another reason women come to the gym is to look good. “After one or two children, women usually add weight and at this point, the clothes they were able to wear before getting married no longer fit. So they may want to shed some weight in order to look good and get into those dresses again.
“Some men get very uncomfortable when their wives begin to add weight and what they do is to enrol them in a gym, but this is not to say that they are not happy with their wives. They just want them to look good.
“I have been in this profession for a while and I have not had any case of unhappiness in marriage because a woman is not slim or whatever. What matters is the person because in a marriage, you look beyond physical attraction,” Nwokeji says.
From a medical point of view, Dr Charles Solomon Agagu, an Abuja-based medical practitioner, says he agrees to some extent, because slim women look better. “They look more beautiful than obese women, no matter what they wear. Slim women are not prone to high blood pressure because they have lower cholesterol levels. They are also less prone to diabetes because obese women are prone to high insulin, as their pancreas tends not to have the capacity to manage the level of insulin produced by the body. It is this high glucose level that leads to diabetes,” he says.
He further says that when a woman is fat, it may affect ovulation and the menstrual cycle, which may affect conception.
Another problem that could arise with obese wives is body odour, says Dr .Charles. “Excessive fat causes sweating under the armpit. Vaginal discharge is not also left out because the thighs are so big that there is no airflow, which in the end causes Candida (Thrush).
“These and more are reasons why men are happier with slimmer wives, because these disadvantages are not usually associated with slim women,” he says.
Mr . Akinde Oluyemi, a husband and father says, “From our environment’s perspective, most educated, young, upwardly mobile men tend to prefer skinnier women, who are believed to be shapely and more attractive and presentable than obese women, who are regarded by some as shapeless.
“The reason for this is that thinner women are said to perform better in bed; they don’t tire out as quickly as the fatter ones and tend not to age too quickly either,” he says.
Another reason, Akinde says, is that clothes look better on slimmer women. “This may be rather subjective though, as some well-to-do men still prefer ‘well-endowed’ women - both posterior and ‘exterior’.
“However, illiterate, rural farmers prefer plump and well-endowed women, especially from the posterior. As long as they can work well on the farm and procreate, the marriage will be happy,” he adds.
The preference for thinner partners goes both ways; it is not just men who look for slim girlfriends or wives. Studies show that both men and women across the board express a strong preference for thinner partners. Another possible factor behind the findings besides attractiveness is that marital satisfaction is also correlated with a partner’s health.