I have said it too many times to count, but I will say it again, "I have pretty much seen it all in the last 35 years." I'm not just talking about training methods, nutrition, and supplementation. I can lend my expertise in other areas that most would not even consider. One of those areas that I have counseled clients over the years is relationships. Not only have I pretty much seen it all in the aforementioned areas, but I have seen relationships affected negatively so many times that I can almost predict when a spouse is leaving or on their way out. Of course, I don't discuss this with my clients unless they bring it up. Still, when I work with my clients for a long period of time, I build a rapport where they feel comfortable asking me for advice and divulging personal issues in the hopes that I might be able to help or provide advice.
That being said, I want to provide three things that I think everyone should pay attention to as they progress on their bodybuilding journey if they're going to avoid negative situations with their spouse. I also want to point out that these problems that I am going to discuss are not one-sided in that females don't do these things more than males and vice versa. It happens on both sides of the relationship.
Here are what I consider three red flags, if you will, or three things that you should pay attention to if you don't want your relationship going south.
1. Support and Apathy
The former is more important than the latter, but both can be a problem. If your spouse doesn't support your bodybuilding endeavors, it may seem innocuous and "no big deal," but over time, it can become a huge problem.
At first, it may seem like apathy in that your spouse seems okay with what you are doing, but they don't seem to care one way or the other. However, as time passes and you take food in plastic containers wherever you go, find yourself scheduling dates or family time around your training, and wanting to eat at restaurants that offer healthy food instead of deep-fried cheese sticks, sliders, and alcohol, this can eventually weigh on your spouse. In time, you will get statements like, "Can't you just be normal for one day or one meal?" The answer is, "No, Karen. It doesn't work that way." And if your spouse's name is Karen – yeah, there's another red flag.
2. If Your Spouse is Out of Shape and Fat
Not everyone who works out feels that their spouse needs to be in shape. We all have our preferences. Some prefer their spouse to be skinny and lean, while others prefer more curves and being "soft." Women tend to have less of a problem with men being portly (what a soft, gentle way of saying "fat," right?), while men who work out and stay in shape tend to want their spouse to be smaller, leaner and be in great shape. Myself, I prefer a softer, rounder look and an ass and chest that is just a little larger. I like "thick" women but not a fat woman. However, some would consider my idea of thick to be their fat. To each their own, I guess.
The problem with a spouse who is not in shape is that they can, at some point, come to resent that you are in great shape, and resent the attention you get from other people. I'm not a therapist, so I don't know if this is because it plays into their insecurities or what the underlying reason is. However, it doesn't change the fact that it happens, and I have seen this and heard this from hundreds of clients over the years. It is, of course, worse or more pronounced in relationships where one person has gotten into great shape after years of not being in shape. And this leads me to my last red flag.
3. All of a Sudden, Your Out-of-Shape Spouse Wants to Get into Great Shape
On the surface, this can be one of those "Hell, yes!" moments. You've been taking care of yourself and have gotten into great shape, and have secretly wanted your spouse to do the same, but they have shown no desire forever, until now.
Believe it or not, this situation–more times than not–plays out because your spouse is on their way out. Think about it: No one is going to go "on the market" fat. If your spouse suddenly wants to lose weight and get into great shape, you need to ask yourself why they want to do this now and have not wanted to do it in the past. Sure, some people just want to be in shape, too, but if your spouse has not been very supportive of your endeavors, gives you shit about meals in plastic containers and tells you that your training and diet is too important and gets in the way of other things, you better take notice. This is a sign that they likely aren't getting into shape for you and your relationship, as much as they are getting into shape for them, and "them" means your spouse and someone else, naked.
My advice if this happens? Let them stay fat. If they all of a sudden want your help to get into great shape, I'd be leery of investing your time to help them get out of your relationship. How ironic if they want you to help them get into shape after never wanting to be in shape, only to leave you. Kind of a death-row pardon two minutes too late if you think about it.
If you don't help them and they stay fat, it isn't like they aren't going to leave you. It's just that they now have to leave fat. Go for it. See how that works for you, Sunshine. I'm a nice guy, and I wouldn't want my wife to stay with me if she wanted to leave, but I'll be god damned if I'm going to help make her transition to the singles' market any easier than I have to. I mean, you didn't care if you were out of shape when you were with me, you can go on the market out of shape and find out how that works for you.
Now, I'm not saying that you need to find a "swole mate" or whatever the hell they call it these days where your spouse is your training partner, and you both want to eat broccoli and cauliflower rice every night. I'm not sure that two people being utterly entangled in the bodybuilding lifestyle is a recipe for a great relationship or not. Sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn't. There are plenty of relationships where one person is in great shape, and the other is not, and it works just fine. My point is that if your spouse shows any of the above signs, you better be paying attention. In my experience and the experience of my clients over the years, things go south at some point. Just Sayin'.