Does Bariatric Surgery Increase the Odds of Divorce?by Cheryl Ann Borne Patient Advocate
Have you ever received a gift, beautifully wrapped and attractive to view, only to open it and find it was not what you thought it might be? The gift maintains a certain level of value that will be more accurately determined in retrospect, but the initial value is not the anticipated one. The wrap will always be beautiful, but the gift beneath the paper is more the stuff of life circumstance than the stuff of dreams come true. Such is sometimes the case of relationships following weight-loss surgery. The beautiful hope of a "new you" becomes the reality of a new you, but then something beneath the wrap of who you have become changes.
In part, the change is more an adjustment of courage or self-esteem. Prior to surgery, prior to improved health, prior to enhanced physical attraction, prior to a rise in confidence, in some instance there was a poor marriage. The relationship already had not been working for whatever period of time. So while improvements in the aforementioned areas can enhance an already stable marriage, a marriage that was volatile before the surgery may collapse following the procedure. The spectrum of improvement enjoyed by the weight-loss surgery patient becomes an impedus for those actions necessary for termination of an already failed marriage. In this instance the gift beneath the wrap is attractive in its' own right, although unanticipated. Options that were not even considered at one time prior to the "new you" are now part of a menu of decision and change.
Often, both partners in the marriage have shared the problems of overeating and obesity. Then, following bariatric surgery, the spouse who underwent weight-loss surgery suddenly bursts alive. He becomes energized and wants to see and be seen. The one time introvert and homebody now burns to socialize. He is treated differently by peers and has become more acceptable and generally more attractive to those around him. The poor eating habits and resulting obesity that may have been the bond that united the couple in marriage is now gone. Unfortunately, the marriage can soon follow.
On the other hand, the spouse who underwent weight-loss surgery may be overcome by insecurity. He cannot keep up or make adjustments to the new lifestyle that has come into his home. An already fragile self-esteem becomes worse, thereby negatively influencing the marriage.
Another factor is that the spouse who did not undergo weight-loss surgery finds that she misses the "old life" - a lifestyle that was likely centered around food and eating activities. The partner and lifestlyle that once were, are now gone and probably irretrivable. The marriage has transitioned into something that is not satisfactory for one of the couple.
The simple fact remains that the divorce rate following bariatric surgery is high. However, if the person was overweight or obese when the relationship or marriage began, the chances of that relationship or marriage ending within two years after the surgery is 80 to 85 percent.
Last but not least, promescuity can be a problem for the spouse that underwent weight-loss surgery, especially if s/he was overweight when younger.
As for me, I was obese as a kid from about the age of 7 or 8. I later lost a dramatic amount of weight when I was 16 years old and transformed into a beautiful teenage girl (in other words, I was hot). It was way back then that I experienced the wonderment of a "new me," the appreciation of the attention of the opposite sex, and my self-esteem soared and my hormones raged. So, I did not experience this phenomena when I had my weight-loss surgery. Sure, sure, I felt much more attractive, but the experience felt more as if my body now matched the thinner person that I had been inside since that time when I was 16 years old.
Idealistically, we always want the "and they lived happily ever after" ending. However, if you are in a bad relationship then the newfound esteem and confidence you may achieve after weight-loss surgery can provide you with the courage to get out of that relationship. This is not necessarily a bad thing for either partner, is it?
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You can read about my decision to have weight loss surgery back in 2003 and my journey to maintain a lifetime of obesity disease management since that time. My wish is to help you on your own journey of lifetime obesity disease management with shareposts along the way to help you navigate that journey successfully.