Making significant lifestyle changes can make you happier and healthier. It can also change your relationships. Unfortunately, these changes are not always for the better. For instance, recent research shows that married people who get bariatric weight loss surgery are twice as likely to divorce as the general population.
What the numbers say
Researchers looked at 1,441 people who underwent bariatric surgeries between 2006-2009. These procedures help people with dramatic weight loss and reduce or eliminate symptoms of conditions including diabetes.
After receiving these surgeries, eight percent of the married participants divorced within five years. This is double the rate of the general population.
On the flip side of these figures, the research also found that non-married participants were more likely to get married after surgery. Reportedly, 18 percent were married within five years, compared to the general population figure of seven percent.
What’s the connection?
When one person in a relationship goes through dramatic changes in their appearance, lifestyle and health, these changes affect their partners. Sometimes it’s positive, but not always.
In the context of a dramatic weight loss, there can be a host of changes that disrupt a couple’s lives, including:
- Increased confidence and better mental health
- Dietary adjustments
- Increased social activities
- Prioritizing exercise and other healthy habits
- New relationships
Couples can drift apart when only one person goes through these changes and experiences.
Of course, changes like dramatic weight loss generally are not guaranteed to end marriages. Many couples stay in sync and can weather shifts together.
However, any significant change can create or highlight vulnerabilities in a relationship. Further, they can trigger disputes that erode the marriage.
Navigating this situation
Compared to divorces stemming from infidelity or abuse, divorces involving parties who have changed or grown apart could be less contentious.
That said, complications can – and typically do – still arise. Depending on how you or your ex have changed, you may have different motivations, parenting styles and values. Negotiating settlements in light of these can be complicated without the help of financial, health and legal professionals.