“Love makes you fat,” my adage-spouting grandmother always said. Now science proves it.
European researchers discovered earlier this year what anyone with eyeballs and a few married friends could have easily told them: that couples are generally heavier than single people.
It’s been proved before — by a study in 2013 that showed the happier people were in their marriages, the more weight they gained. And by yet another one the year before that.
(Okay, lightweight social scientists, time to find a new subject. Might I suggest 7 Ways That Listicles Are Making Us Stupid or Why Are We Still Talking About Donald Trump?)
So what’s the reason for this now officially undeniable link between mass and matrimony? There’s the obvious answer, of course: that once you’ve found a partner, you stop working so hard on your appearance. You skip a spinning class here and there, stop spending mornings wrestling with your straightening iron and — oh, what the hell — buy your first-ever pair of elastic-waist pants.
The most recent study, published in Social Science & Medicine magazine, calls this the “marriage market hypothesis,” i.e. we make more of an effort when we’re “on the market” than when we’re “off.” Supporting that notion is this fascinating fact: In countries with a high divorce rate, couples are slimmer than in countries with a low divorce rate; in other words, married people work harder at maintaining their weight when they think there’s a chance they may eventually be single again.
But call me a romantic; I have to believe there’s more to this phenomenon than the cynical “I bought the cow; now gimme my free milkshake” explanation. In my experience, falling in love pries your senses wide open, and it’s just a damned pleasure to, er, fill them with delightful new indulgences. Sure, dirty Berties, sometimes that comes in the form of wild monkey sex. And sometimes it comes in the form of poking warm brownies into one another’s pie holes out of the pan and washing them down with red wine while curled up on the couch watching Bloodline in your criminally soft, indisputably ugly jammies.
Or so I’ve heard.
I asked my friends why they think we put on heft when we get hitched.
One said it was a strategy for fighting off other would-be suitors. “Once you find the love of your life, you have to fatten them up to keep the competition away. … It’s more fun than peeing on them to mark them as yours.”
Another swore it was the pressure of marital mealtime. “When you’re single, a bowl of Cap’n Crunch and six olives is a perfectly acceptable dinner. When you’re married, there must be a protein, a starch, a vegetable, and a friggin’ roll on the side. Why? Because marriage.”
Everyone knows the way to a partner’s heart is through his or her flapping jaws.
“Food is love,” confirms a married friend of mine — a nutritionist, actually, who sees it this way:
I made you this great meal. (Translation: I love you.)
I made you this great meal. (Translation: I’m sorry you had a bad day.)
I made you this great meal. (Translation: I’m trying to be a supportive spouse.)
“Let��s face it,” she says. “Doing the laundry isn’t a delicious way to say those things.”
But if you’ve put on pounds since you put on your wedding ring, don’t worry. Long as we’re studying studies, it’s worth noting that happily married folks — while potentially plumper — are likely to live longer than singles.
Married for over 50 years, having just turned 90 and still erupting in axioms at every turn, my grandmother would have to agree with that. Turns out that fat or otherwise, love makes you live.
Starshine Roshell is the author of Broad Assumptions.