How can you turn down food that your spouse lovingly sets in front of you?When does the bonding experience of emotional nurturing in sharing a meal with a loved one override your diabetes diet requirements?
Does the health of your heart ever trump intimacy?
A friend's dilemma reminded me of these questions and a difficult part of my personal history. A quarter of a century ago when one of my unhappy marriages was failing, I wrote a poem that started like this:
A marriage of equals is harder by far
Than to launch a huge rocket to transit a star
The poem concluded:
When two equals get married, they must share their hearts,
And not only their minds and their physical parts;
They must seek the same goals on the inward-bound trip;
For their lives go together on the inner-space ship.
Yesterday a friend who has diabetes said his doctor told him that he was a prime candidate for a heart attack and needed to lose some weight. But my friend said that he wasn't able to lose his belly fat because he was living with someone.
That reminded me of how relationships have sometimes pulled me down too. Relationships -- particularly marriages -- are hard because they do require a whole lot of sharing.
Bonding is what my friend calls sharing. We use food not only for our nutrition but also for bonding. Eating dinner together with his wife is an important part of my friend's relationship -- as it is for most couples.
She prepares most of their meals. She prefers a higher-carbohydrate diet than he does. He tends to eat what she serves him.
Why? I asked him. When he knows what he needs to eat.
Bonding was the only answer I got from him. But I've been in the same place myself, and think I understand. It wasn't in the marriage that I wrote that poem about, but another one of my failed relationships.
In that marriage I stopped watching my diet as closely as I had before. And I exercised a lot less. And I gained a lot of weight.
In those respects I became a lot more like my wife. Yes, we were bonding. But it was more than that.
It was inertia. Eventually I just found it easier to be a lot more like her. I became a little lazy.
Another consideration is being considerate. Like many people, my mother tried her best to raise me not to be rude. And for her -- and me -- it is rude to refuse a gift. Especially one offered by a loved one, and most especially when it is a meal lovingly prepared for the two of us.
Of course, I failed not only in my marriages but also in not taking responsibility for what I put in my mouth. While my wife offered the food, I ate it, and it was my responsibility.
Both my friend and I would better serve our relationships if we did more of the cooking. Or all of it.
I do know that the next time I live with someone I will contribute more than my share of the cooking. Or fall in love with a skinny woman.