Do I Look Fat?

On being truthful to your spouse.

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Comments (34)

(31) Yehudith Shraga, June 6, 2013 2:08 AM

The comment on "hungry and starving children in Israel"

Dear Lori, I greatly care for your try to help the Jewish organization "Yad Ezrra",but I may not stop myself from noticing that it has made me feel hurt for Israel.I think that before we speak about something we have to think it over several times:both the message and the form matters! As good as your intention may be,the FORM you put your message in may deviate the objective understanding of the true picture.

I would like to say on behalf of Alli'ya from former Soviet Union,which came to Israel with nearly and no means to support ourselves,we weren't allowed to take out of Russia more than 300$ for an adult and so it was 600$ a family had on the arrival to Israel. WELL,there was no ONE day that we were left without basic needs and help.We learned !We worked! and we succeeded greatly!Just to mention that our two daughters got the opportunities in Israel which they may not even dream in their country of birth: our elder daughter is currently the 3rd Degree student of the Chicago University ( after graduation of the 1st degree in Jerusalem University and the 2nd in Colombia University), our younger one has made her 1st degree in Tel-Aviv University and is now making her 2nd degree in the Weizmann Institute of Science. I am very proud of my daughters and most thankful to the BASIC LEVEL of life here in ISRAEL, where common people have such opportunities for themselves and their children!

I think, that before we speak about any problem we should investigate its roots first. The country of Israel is the country of the Highest Human Values, and only the most irresponsible parents may come to the situation for their children to be hungry and starve! It is Jewish to give money for charity, but it ISN'T Jewish to live on charity. It is Jewish to speak openly, but when we speak about a whole country the objectiveness of our view should be insured and the implications of our statements thought over and over!

(30) Suzanne, June 3, 2013 6:17 PM

I'm sorry, I disagree

Obesity is a serious problem in the US. If your spouse is overweight, it DOES affect attraction. It also affects the overweight person's health. You don't have to be a jerk about it - but honestly, I'm sick of people telling others that you're 'insensitive" to bring this up. Insensitivity works both ways. An overweight spouse is making it easier for their own spouse to look elsewhere (even though it's not right) and they are setting themselves up for serious health issues in the future.

(29) Ken J, June 3, 2013 9:00 AM

Don't support lying!

Don't set your spouse up to lie (choosing to lie or be unbelievable). Never ask a question if you don't really want to hear a truthful answer!
No need to point out a weight issue unless there is a primary concern for health.

(28) Jay, June 1, 2013 12:51 PM

Thank you

so much for your message. This morning I have been obsessing about asking an old friend for forgiveness for not doing something years ago. I was going to call this person with my guilt but that would not help him or me. Most likely, my words would bring him pain and guilt. Your right! Sometimes you just have to keep your mouth shut and see if you can rectify something you think your responsible for without further upsetting a person. Thanks again.

(27) Bobby5000, June 1, 2013 11:59 AM

Couple should be considered about the other's feelings. People will change physically and emotionally and you must be ready to accept those changes in a marriage.

That said, a husband can make a comment with these guidelines,

1. No repetition You make your comment one every few months. Don't nag.

2. Be nice. A woman may be hurt. Don't make the situation worse by saying you find her unattractive.

3. Consider underlying causes Is she unhappy. Try to see why (but don't emphasize that you want to help her problem so she'll lose weight).

4. Recognize that even if a husband doesn't say anything, his wife may still feel free to criticize him about other things. Women like to verbalize their feelings.

(26) SusanE, May 31, 2013 10:41 PM

Can not agree with keeping quiet.

If the wife was spending too much time away from home. - If she was being rude to friends. - If she was yelling at the children. - If her house was dirty or if she was not paying the bills on time. - If she was wearing inappropriate clothing.- If she was spending too much money on obcessive shopping. - If she began drinking too much. - If she was gambling. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Never should anyone be quiet about these things in a marriage. If she has become too fat, she needs to hear it. If she is drinking too much she should hear about it. If the children are not well cared for.... the wife should hear it from her husband. Exactly the same for her to tell her husband about any excesses he has, too.

(25) Dorothy Bienen, May 31, 2013 10:17 PM

Thank you, Lori!!!!

Lori always speaks from the heart...with accurate and correct advice! Every man, woman and child should listen to what you have to say....and how to say it! Such great advice...and if he were my husband...I do not know what I would do....possibly...I would tell him to speak with Lori!

Hoping people can do as you say. Lori, and be very careful about what they say!!!

With gratitude,


(24) Janice Kenner, May 31, 2013 9:38 PM

A better way to say it.

If the husband had told her the reason he was worried about her weight gain was his concern for her health rather than that it lessened her attraction for him, he might have gotten a better reaction. I wonder if he has looked in the mirror lately.

(23) Nicole, May 31, 2013 7:43 AM


The husband and children are "the home" "the shelter" When the outside world is hard and hurtful home is the support and refuge that we need. Hearing the hard truth from the very poeple who are meant to be "the refuge" can be devastating.

A few years ago, I was working very hard to get the baby weight off. I was running a 5K a day and had finally gotten down to a size 6! I was so proud of myself and I felt good. Then a former friend said to me "Oh your such a cute girl if you'd just loose a few pounds" to this day, (about 5 years later) I can't forget that comment. From that comment, I stopped caring about my hard work and the pride I had diminished. Maybe I should have been motivated from it or I should have brushed it off but I didn't. I tried to go out for a run the next day after that comment had occurred only to stop and start sobbing. Thinking to myself, 'What's the use?". I went into a deep sadness for years after that. I quite working out and eating healthy. I'm much better now but it had a lasting effect on me.

Sometimes comments about ones weight can be motivational but on the other hand, it could be the polar opposite. It can make one go into a sadness that can be immensely damaging to the emotions and physical health. A person may gain more weight after this.

I'm not willing to take that gamble when there are so many other options. Especially with the poeple I love.

(22) sharona, May 31, 2013 4:36 AM

It's true, I remember reading in the Chofetz Chaim book, that while it's important to be honest, it's even more important to have peace. It's like if the wife likes country music and the husband doesn't, he shouldn't say that country music is garbage, but rather that he prefers other music like rock. There are nicer ways to say things.

Plus, not everything needs to be said. And so we should decide whether or not the person needs to know. For example, if you wonder whether or not you married the right person, telling her this doubt would make her feel Undesirable. It's better to talk to a rabbi or counselor about it.

(21) Alvin, May 31, 2013 12:40 AM

Another approach

Mrs. Palatnik -- You have effectively conveyed one possible solution for this issue. It's the easier way out: fib, or button your lip, buster. There is another approach. Every day, a man should write down five things that he appreciates about his wife. They could be anything - her silvery laugh, that she washed the gym clothes yesterday, and so on. (A smartphone's word program is an excellent place to hide this list.) The next day, he must find five DIFFERENT things to write down - no repeats allowed. After some time, he will find himself so head-over-heels in love with her, that he won't even consider saying anything about her looks to her that could hurt her feelings. I showed the video to my wife, then I told her, "I never had to lie to you. You always look gorgeous." From her reaction alone, today was worth living. :-)

(20) Anonymous, May 30, 2013 10:36 PM

it works both ways

Lori is right except it works for men too. I destroyed my marriage by more than once over the years telling my hard working ex that I wanted him to loose weight because I wanted him around a long time and less attraction. When it was too late I realized it was his neshama that was the most important and to be overweight doesn't have to mean unfit. Also many due to time and.or lack of motivation can't or won't maintain a lower weight. When you look into your spouses eyes' - man or woman - & see that's who you married as you age together you will be saving yourself the pain of divorce or unhappiness and grow together in your love including intimacy into your golden years instead of the sad opposite. It doesn't seem to have a middle ground - either you're happy together or you're staying together out of commitment only - so why not get an attitude adjustment and have both?

(19) Anonymous, May 30, 2013 9:03 PM

I'm not sure...

I definitely agree with Lori's statement that we don't need to say everything that we think about someone else, and we shouldn't. But on the weight issue, I don't agree. It's a serious health issue today; obesity is an epidemic. As painful as it is to hear from one's spouse, it might be just the kick one needs to get serious about getting into shape. And on the other hand, what good are all the compliments ("you look beautiful, darling") when both she and he can look in the mirror and see the weight gain. Additionally, how much better for him to mention it to her when she's gained some weight, rather than watch her get bigger and she ends up huge.

(18) Ted, May 30, 2013 5:21 PM

You Are Wrong!

For a very religious person with a lot of knowledge and for whom I have great respect for, I think you messed this situation up a little. Too many times in the lives of couples, we gloss over the truth with little white lies meant to keep peace and harmony in the family relationship. But the truth of the matter is that it is still a lie and you are sinning with the non truth to your spouse. I may be judged for being callous in my demeanor towards others, but I will not be judged by G-d for lying to others. Where do we stop the lies once we get started with the little white lies to make each other just feel good for the moment?

(17) PCohen, May 30, 2013 5:20 PM

I wouldn't lie about it

I'd keep my opinion to myself, but when asked, II wouldn't lie about it, but on the on hand, I wouldn't be tactless either. I'd try to find a way to speak my OPINION in a kind and concerned way. I might start with, "Well, it's only my OPINION, but you did look a little better..." or "I don't see any real difference (while thinking: since last week)."If the wife is heavy, then the husband probably is too. He could suggest that he go on a diet, and that she help him by preparing the foods he needs to loose weight and support him by eating the same when she's with him.

(16) rae, May 30, 2013 4:58 PM


If you truly love you spouse it won't matter if they have gained weight! I gained weight after my first child due to what I find out now(16 yrs later) is a thyroid disorder. My husband told me I was fat and unattractive to him, I now have a new husband who loves me for me and doesn't care what size I wear! nor do I love my spouse any less due to his weight gain caused by medical issues that are beyond his control! If your spouse is less attractive to you because of their weight, perhaps you should take a look at yourself and ask if you really love this person!!!

Reuven Frank, May 31, 2013 8:31 AM


I agree with Rae. Men need to learn to run the gamut of responses to questions like this. For example, ‘do I look fat…?’ might be answered with humor: ‘Do I look stupid? With love: Get up and give her a hug and as romantic kiss, and say: “Who cares?” With practicality blended with an ample dose of sensibility: “As for me, I’d love you in a potato snack. And if you’re worried about how it will look to so-and-so, by saying: “OK, let’s find something together that’s REALLY beautiful, so I can show-off my lovely wife.” I realize that this might not be what she wanted to hear, or that ‘it is permitted to change the truth for peace,’ but I am against an–out-and-out lie for lots of reasons. Not least among them, what does the husband do WHEN (it IS going to happen), a close friend of his wife tells her truthfully how she looks? (“Sara, we’ve always been best friends, and…in that outfit.”) Yes, we need to be sensitive; but, we need to take into consideration the long-term sensibility too.

(15) Mati, May 30, 2013 4:52 PM

What's wrong with truth?

I don't understand how women can claim they are equal to men when men can tell other men things like this (even gay couples) without causing frienship/love/relationship problems and women have issues with this type of honesty and it causes such f/l/r problems.

(14) Anonymous, May 30, 2013 4:27 PM

Wish things were so simple

If "she already knows," she may be asking for "permission to remain fat."
And this is the danger.
The fact that her husband is not attracted to her is an unspoken truth, far more powerful than the lie said in the name of rachmanut.

Pointing his concerns about her health is a good point, but some sincerity, with lots of tact needs to make its way in that relationship. How? I think every case is different.

(13) Leah, May 30, 2013 4:15 PM

Excellent advise

Women are very sensitive to things that are said to her by her husband. His approval and his love mean the world to her. A way to help would be to join a gym together, take a dance class together or something else that is physical and fun. Woman often unconsciously eat when distressed. Men may abuse alcohol which makes them thin on the outside but damaged and unhealthy on the inside. In summary, if both partners emotional needs are met, negative habits would no longer be used as coping mechanisms by either spouse. Be kind to each other. Great things can come out of that.

(12) Ellen, May 30, 2013 3:56 PM


I feel if I ask... "How is this dress on me?", for example, I am looking for a honest answer. I don't want to walk around wear clothing that is unflattering, and sometimes, we need another opinion. If you are going to ask, you should be prepared for any response. Unsolicited comments, however, such as "Oh, that is not a good look for you", are not appreciated.

(11) Jerry, May 30, 2013 3:55 PM

You never heard of diet and exercise?

I think the husband was right toi tell his wife, honestly, why she was no longer attractive to him. If she really cared she would lose the weight and reestablish her attractiveness. Covering up his feelings is what leads to divorce. No one wants to be married to a manatee. His feelings won't change until her diet does. Bless him for his courage!

Anonymous, June 4, 2013 4:00 AM

To Jerry (11)

That's hurtful, and she probably already knows and misses her better looks, herself. If you were told (because your looks changed), that you are no longer attractive to your spouse, that's horrible. With age and pregnancy and health issues, hormones and body chemistry change, many are very difficult to manage. And anyone that is with someone for years, decades, will change and see change in the other. The usual reason a female's body changes, is due to pregnancy...which happened with the males help. You try gaining 60 lbs mostly in your stomach, then lose it, and see how your body looks, especially after a few times of this. Even after getting down to a weight that was less then when we got married, the body changed, and the weight stayed in wrong places, and was lost where one doesn't want to lose it. The body changes with life. And the men (that have had children) tend to gain weight too, and there was no human growing inside of them. One should be with a person for their character traits, etc, inner beauty first, looks way down the list. Inner beauty is more permanent then outer beauty. Physical attraction may get you to go talk to each other, but it shouldn't be the reason you decide to have a life together.

(10) Rachel, May 30, 2013 3:48 PM

The difference between telling and replying

The man in this story appears to have just told his wife that she's gained weight -- not a good idea. HOWEVER, if I ask my husband a direct question (including, do I look fat in this outfit) I want an honest answer. I value his opinion and trust him to be truthful. Maybe I'm different from lots of women; maybe it's because we've been married 30 years, but I'd be very upset if I couldn't depend on him for an honest answer to this or any other sensitive question.

(9) Anonymous, May 30, 2013 3:43 PM

Overweight is not a health issue - obesity is

if (s)he is more than 30 lbs. overweight this could be a serious health issue - find out the facts from your doctor before you comment. And a new dress for the wife or thoughtful gift for husband you may have insulted is a good idea, too. Then whereever he/she is at ... they can still feel good on their journey back to wellness....

(8) Anonymous, May 30, 2013 3:40 PM


I've have had a weight problem my entire life and the daily fight is miserable. My husband has never said anything negative (he married me this way), but he rarely says anything positive either. On the rare occasions that he does, I don't believe him at all because I know what I look like and know that I am not the desired body type. This the function of the world we live in, the voices of parents who reminded us daily of our imperfections, and a society that rewards the beautiful and is cruel to the rest of us.

(7) Cari, May 30, 2013 3:16 PM

I totally agree it should not be pointed out!

The person already knows and already feels bad about it, this will only make them feel worse. I agree on focusing on health and perhaps asking your partner to go for walks after dinner, play tennis together. Fun activities that are also healthy and burn calories.

(6) Anonymous, May 30, 2013 3:09 PM

Additional advice to husband?

It seems fair and clear as that it is detrimental to a couple's relationship for the husband to articulate his displeasure of his wife's weight gain.
However, I am wondering if you have advice to share with men as to what would be the best way for them to deal with feelings of decreased attraction to their wives in such scenarios.
Thank you!

(5) Chava Yelloz, May 30, 2013 2:54 PM

Do I look fat?

My husband, may he rets in peace, was a born diplomat. If I ever asked him the question, "Do I look fat in this?" he gave me a sweet innocent smile and answered, "I've seen you look better in other outfits." Yes, sometimes such a remark was 'all telling' and I got the message loud and clear. It's often tough for some women to lose weight gained, especially after pregnancies and hormonal changes (menopause) and a spouse can become less physically attracted, But, that is relative to how the relationship blossomed in the first place. If a man married his wife based on physical chemistry only, then when it changes, so do his feelings. But, if he looks at her from the inside out, and is attracted to her inner qualities, chances are he will accept the physical changes that occur over the years. Yes, health and a long and happy life together should always be on the forefront - but I also believe that honesty in a relationship is very important.

(4) Anonymous, May 30, 2013 12:29 PM

To the anonymous commenter above: I don't think we should ignore health concerns either. However, we don't need to be blunt and tactless in how we deal with our wife and/or husband's weight gain. I think it is safe to assume that everyone over the age of 10 understands the health risks associated with obesity. One can also take actions such as not bringing junk food into the house. You can also offer to go for a walk with your spouse, which would be good for both of you. Finally, I think it would be very important to find out the reason for a spouse's weight gain. If the gain is not due to any medical issue, then some introspection is in order.

(3) tonna, May 30, 2013 2:20 AM


My David, may his memory be for a blessing, always told me that I looked lovely or beautiful...I appreciated his loving words so very much! More than he probably ever knew! Sadly, he is no longer with me... but his precious words live on in my heart! Baruch Hashem!

(2) Anonymous, May 29, 2013 6:31 PM

First of all, let me once again commend Lori Palatnik and AISH for providing close captioning. Thanks so much for this most valuable service! :-) Re: Physical attractiveness. Not all of us were meant to be skinny. However, we can and must take care of our appearance at any size. (I'm directing this comment to both men and women.) The man who commented on his wife's weight gain might want to think about the positive qualities that initially attracted him to his wife. Perhaps concentrating on the internal will cause her to make changes to the external. Finally, Lori Palatnik is on the money when she says we don't have to express every single thought just because it is in our heads. Too many feelings have been hurt in the name of brutal honesty, a/k/a "But I was only trying to help you." Let us all think twice before we open our mouths to speak!!

(1) Anonymous, May 29, 2013 10:13 AM

Excellent advice

This is really excellent advise. It leaves me with some questions. The sentiment he expressed to his wife was real. He really was feeling less attracted to his wife because of her weight gain. While I have some friends who seem to be effortlessly thin for life, there are many many women for whom weight gain and battles with their weight are just a fact of life. They may do everything right in an effort to be attractive for their husbands but remain heavier than they would like to be. Woman also tend to be emotionally sensitive and intuitive. If a woman's husband is telling her he still thinks she's beautiful but in reality is less attracted and is freaking out about her weight, she will very likely know the truth. So they're both stuck in this unhappy place. Her not being as thin as both he and she would like and both of them being unhappy. He's unhappy because he doesn't find her as attractive and she's unhappy because she knows it. How does a couple cope?

Anonymous, May 30, 2013 8:13 AM

I'm sorry but I cannot agree.

What is this about "Women have memories and feelings"? I have news for you. So do men. In most cases I would agree with you. Tell your wife she looks gorgeous in that outfit in general is good advice for shalom bayis. But a spouse can gain a ton of weight and be in denial. They start wearing elasticated pants or skirts and convince themselves they are still the same size. It will directly affect the relationship on so many levels and it cannot be ignored. For the health of the person and the health of the marriage someone needs to say something. I would speak to your family doctor or nurse and ask him/her to invite your husband/wife for a general chat about health. He/she needs to realise that it is effecting their marriage as well as their health. I cannot agree that telling him/her that they look great the whole time is wise.


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