Brett wrote this in response to my post about weight loss surgery and divorce:


B Matthes head shot in WLS and Divorce post

As a kid

When I was growing up I always believed I was chubby. I was the kid that wore the “husky” sized pants and had a little pooch of a stomach. I would always (and still do) tug on my shirt when I sat down because I didn’t like that it would hug my midsection. Looking back, though, I wasn’t big. Nobody made fun of me for being the fat kid. Girls even liked me, at least in grade school. They used to argue over who got to wear my jacket when they were cold in class. In 4th grade, I once even received a present full of love notes from a secret admirer (which I promptly threw away in embarrassment, probably causing irreparable damage to some poor girl’s psyche who now has all kinds of issues with men…)

In high school, I spent one whole year playing football. While I didn’t really like playing the sport, it taught me how to lift weights. For most of my high school career, I was in decent shape. But in 1997 I moved to Indiana, a bad move for so many reasons. After about 3 years I really started to pack on the pounds. We had very little money for healthy foods. At work I ate something called “meatloaf-dinner” off the food truck for lunch. Then we ate Wendy’s or Long John Silver’s every night. As a result, I went from about 230 pounds to over 330 lbs.

As an Adult

Eventually I came to my senses and moved back home to Arizona. Living with mom, I had a job and few bills, so I ate out at work every day…at restaurants…ordering dinner-sized meals. During this time, I eventually met Andrea and she decided she really liked me so we moved in together. I was around 350 pounds. We bonded over food. We ate fast food almost every night, we went out to eat, we snacked and ate junk. By the time we had our own house in NC I was up to 362 pounds. This was the heaviest I ever got. Through various diets and lifestyle changes I eventually got down to where I am now, hovering around 320. Andrea, though, had grown to 320, and she decided to have gastric bypass surgery. And that’s what I want to talk about here.

As a Spouse

When she first told me that she was planning on having weight loss surgery (WLS) I was not exactly thrilled with the decision. My first issue was that surgery of any type can be dangerous. I was scared of complications, I was afraid she would die on the table, I was afraid she would be in pain, I was afraid it wouldn’t work and that she was gain all her weight back and had put herself through all this for nothing.

Those are all real and legitimate fears, but I was also afraid of the Big D: divorce. She was going to change her life dramatically and I was not. What if she gets skinny, I stay fat, and she decides not to be married to the fat guy anymore? What if she finds somebody that can go zip-lining in Costa Rica, which I can’t do because those all have weight restrictions, and decides he is the actual love of her life? What if she looks at me and only sees her former miserable self from her old fat life and she decides she can’t be connected to that old life anymore? In other words, WLS will change her relationship to food, will it change her relationship to me too? Are we going to divorce?

Post-Surgery Relationship Changes

Guys, if you’re reading this hoping against hope that your significant other’s surgery won’t change your relationship, then I’m sorry. Things are going to be different, and if your situation is similar to mine, it’s going to be hard.

You are going to feel left behind

    Last year we could talk about how exciting life could be if we were skinny, how we might go hiking, or white-water rafting, or roller-coaster riding. Today she can do all that, I can’t

You are going to lose things in common

Andrea and I used to be able to commiserate about our weight-loss failures over a pizza or bowl of ice cream, now she doesn’t have that failure, so there is no commiserating, there is only her sympathy over my continued fatness.

Your relationship with food will change

If you are the chef in your house, you will have to cook for a WLS patient. If you are not the chef, prepare for a new menu. Unless you each cook for yourselves, you’re not going to be eating the same dinners you are used to.

You are going to feel guilty

Every time I take a bite of food that doesn’t work in favor of my weight loss (skittles, chips, etc) I feel guilty for not trying harder, for not trying to get into better shape for my almost-skinny wife. Every bite I take feels like it is putting myself one step closer to divorce.

You are going to feel fat.

Hanging out with somebody fit is a tough reminder that you are not. Have you ever sat next to a skinny person on an airplane? Now imagine that every day, but on your couch at home.

You are going to feel like a failure

Unless you are one of those people with a super metabolism, you are going to lose weight slowly. You are going to lose a couple of pounds in a month while your SO sheds pounds every week. This is going to make you feel like a failure, even though you know, you know you are doing fine with your 1-2 pounds per week. You lose perspective on normal weight-loss and it makes it hard to celebrate your 1 pound victory when your spouse just celebrated 5 pounds.

You will get sick of talking about food.

This one might be more unique to me, I’m not really sure. In our house, food and exercise are some of the only topics we discuss. They are my wife’s favorite subjects. They are not, however, my favorite subject. I like to talk about school and cars and rockets and space and science. These are not her favorite subjects. I already feel like I’m pushing her towards divorce by being fat, so I talk about food and exercise. I try to break into my subjects where possible, but she just tunes out and starts reading Facebook, where everybody in the group is talking about food and fitness (wow, so this point got a little out of control…what were we talking about again?). Anyway, unless you already are, prepare to fake food obsession

These are all things I experienced as a SOoaWLSP (Significant Other of a Weight Loss Surgery Patient). Maybe your experiences will be different, maybe they will be worse, maybe they will be nothing like this. If so, interesting, sorry, or awesome (depending on which one you have). What I can tell you is that this type of change is not necessarily bad. I have friends that did divorce. I also have friends that did not.


I think it’s all in how you approach the changes, because really, when you look at my situation, I’m fat because I am a carboholic who eats too much. I have a very bad relationship with food. Andrea’s WLS has changed the food in our house, it has changed how I look at dinner, it has changed how I look at exercise. I’ve reduced my portions, I’ve stopped eating fast food regularly, I’ve reduced my carb, and I’ve got a plan in motion. Am I doing this because I am afraid if I don’t I might get divorced? Partially, sure. I also want to go do stuff with my wife. I want us to share in those experiences instead of me hearing about them after she gets home.

It’s hard being a SOoaWLSP, but if you embrace the changes it will bring on your life you might find you have a much better relationship, both with food and your significant other, in the end. Good luck 🙂

Video Follow Up Brett and Andrea on WLS and Divorce