Friends told me that after James and I were married, we'd discover things about each other that we'd never noticed before—cleaning patterns, bathroom habits, little quirks. They were right.
But nothing prepared me for the greatest shock of all. My husband is an eater.
When I say eater, I don't mean three square meals a day, or even several small healthy meals throughout the day. I mean he eats all day long.
The realization first hit me on our honeymoon. We ate breakfast, we ate lunch, we ate dinner. And James had snacks in between. One day, I subconsciously kept up with him. We gobbled bagels, chips, candy, ice cream.
By supper—a fancy candlelight dinner—my stomach had decided enough was enough. The thought of going to a restaurant and being surrounded by all that food was nauseating! I asked James if we could postpone our dinner plans until another evening. That night, instead of gazing dreamily into my husband's eyes while watching the sun set over Lake Michigan, I suffered in bed with the worst stomach ache I've ever had.
James's eating habits didn't change. And rather than learning from that honeymoon belly ache, I found myself trying to keep up with him—whether by mimicking his snacking habits or by doling out equal portions at our meals. I knew that I couldn't keep up with him. I understood that our bodies have differing metabolisms. But still, I ate what he ate, when he ate. It was a constant struggle.
I'd been battling weight control for a while. Before the wedding I lost 30 pounds. I felt great—I looked great! But afterward, I regained much of the weight from eating what and when James did.
I convinced myself that since the wedding was over, it didn't matter if I gained a few pounds. But one day during my devotions, I came across the apostle Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 6 that say our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit, that we were bought at a great price, so we need to honor Christ with our bodies. Although in the biblical context Paul was referring to sexual purity, I realized his words could also apply to eating. By noshing potato chips and pizza and drinking soda, James and I weren't feeding our bodies what they need to be healthy.
Convicted, I sat down with James and talked to him about our eating habits. I explained I'd been subconsciously trying to keep up with him, but that I wasn't going to do that anymore. Then I expressed how much I loved him and how his health was important to me. We agreed to make a change in our eating habits.
I now try to plan meals ahead of time and buy only the food we need for them. If we want to snack, we buy fruit and other healthy foods. While James occasionally sneaks "goodies" past me, I do my best not to eat them. Instead, I munch a banana and feel much better about myself for doing so.
I've learned that though I can't control everything that goes into my husband's mouth, I can control what goes in mine, and I can make sure I have the right foods in the house for when he gets the urge to snack. And for me, having good self-control and discipline is key, although it's nice to have the occasional candy bar!
It's been more than seven years since that dreadful honeymoon stomach ache. Now James and I are each other's health coaches as well as husband and wife. We both try to maintain a healthy diet and help each other stay in check. Talking about what we eat, planning the week's meals together, and being there for each other as we struggle to remain healthy has helped us become closer, and for that I'm grateful.
Copyright © 2004 by the author or Christianity Today/Marriage Partnership magazine.