Q: My wife of three years and I just had our first child a month ago. During her pregnancy, she gained a lot of weight and hasn't really lost much of it yet. I'm finding myself not really attracted to her anymore, and I've begun to fantasize about cheating on her. I really don't want to do that, because I do love her, but my desire for her has dwindled to almost nothing. When we got married, we were both in fantastic shape and we agreed that we'd keep up our appearances for each other in the future. So far I've held up my end of the bargain, so what else can I do?
-- M.B., Buffalo
A: What can you do? You can start immediately by keeping your mouth shut, remaining faithful to your wife that you claim to love, and growing up. You're a father now, and marriage is not about shaking hands to seal a deal; it's a lifelong commitment to honor one another for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.
Your body has never experienced pregnancy. You have no right to judge your wife this way, and you should be ashamed of yourself. You should not have married this woman if you didn't think you could handle baby weight or weight gain in general, regardless of the agreement the two of you made. Life happens. You'll get older someday, gain weight, get wrinkles, and you might even have problems performing sexually, and I don't think you would want your wife judging you for those things.
Many people have the misconception from the entertainment media that it's really easy to stay in shape during pregnancy and instantly go back to being slender and fit once the baby is born. The truth is, celebrity moms have personal trainers, nannies, at-home chefs and pressure from television or movie contracts that don't allow them to gain weight.
I'd like to think that you would rather your wife gain weight and give birth to a healthy child than have a skinny wife give birth to a child with health problems caused by her dieting. You might think this sounds extreme, but I find your attitude to be extreme and completely unacceptable.
Women gain weight during pregnancy because it's developmentally necessary and healthy; feeding herself, and the rapidly growing baby inside her, requires a lot of extra nourishment and food intake. After a woman gives birth, her hormones don't fully return to normal for quite a while, so to expect her to have her beach body back a month after giving birth is unrealistic, selfish, ignorant and hurtful. I can only hope you haven't shared your feelings with her at this point. If you have, it could backfire on you; she'll get her body back, resent you for pushing her, and she may become the one who's no longer attracted to you. When you act ugly, you look ugly.
Having a baby, as I'm sure you're aware, is a wonderful experience, but along with it comes stress, lack of sleep and a round-the-clock job -- all factors that contribute to the slowing of her metabolism.
Your wife is probably 100 percent focused on her infant at this point and likely does not have the time or energy to worry about her weight. Making the decision to lose weight is a personal choice and should not be influenced by anyone else. If your wife decides to diet and exercise in the coming months, it should be because she's ready and wants to for herself and not just you.
If she was in fantastic shape before the baby, it's likely that she'll slim back down when her hormones and metabolism return to normal; but, if she doesn't, she deserves a husband who will support her and love her regardless. Get your act together and be the man that she needs right now.
Patti Novak owns Buffalo Niagara Introductions (www.buffaloniagaraintro.com). E-mail questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and include your initials and hometown.