Sometimes Relationships and Bariatric Surgery Don’t Mix

The divorce rate in the United States is already high. But did you know for people that have undergone one of the many different bariatric surgeries that their chance of getting divorced increases even more? Is it a lack of support from the spouse who didn’t have surgery? Is it some sort of resentment or jealousy over all the physical changes their partner or going through? Or could it be that people affected by morbid obesity settle many times in their relationships? According to research, these relationships are most vulnerable up to two years after one person has had surgery.

Bryan Johnson was in a long term relationship, recently engaged, and was planning a wedding when he decided to make a change. “I wanted to like the person I saw in the mirror. I wanted to be able to enjoy walking without becoming winded. I wanted to be around for my future spouse and be healthy,” said Johnson when talking about why he wanted to have surgery. It was in the initial discussion phase that he started to get what he called “push back” from his fiance. “She also had a weight problem but wasn’t morbidly obese like I was. We enjoyed eating and overindulging in bad foods together,” he said.

Bryan contributes the lack of support he received from his then fiance as “her not wanting to have to take a look at herself and her shortcomings.” To spite the resistance Johnson received, he still underwent vertical sleeve gastrectomy in 2010. Initially, his fiance took care of him medically so he could get back on his feet after his procedure. But he began to feel like she was trying to sabotage the hard work and dedication he put into living his new healthier lifestyle. “She would offer my things like a pint of Haagan-Dazs, something I used to overindulge in before my sleeve surgery. Even after explaining to her that my stomach was much smaller now, she still tried to encourage me to eat the ice cream,” he said.

Many bariatric patients will see about an 8% regain from their lowest recording weight within five years of surgery. Johnson, who started at 485-lbs, still maintains his total weight loss. He’s proud to say that he now weighs “212-lbs, not 215-lbs because every pound counts.” He’s lost a total of 273-pounds, plus the dead weight of his former fiance that wasn’t so supportive. “It just got to a point where she wasn’t helping me and she was holding me back from becoming healthy and staying on track,” he said. Johnson ended things just a few months after his one year surgery anniversary. But Bryan Johnson’s story doesn’t end on a sad note. He ended what most would consider a toxic and unhealthy relationship to better himself and now he’s engaged to be married next February. “She loves me for who I was before I lost the weight and she loves me for who I’ve become too,” he said.

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