I think a lot of spouses have a bad habit of talking bad about themselves. Women in particular are generally very well know for criticizing their appearance. Most men don’t do this as much. Men, if they verbalize this, tend to downplay their accomplishments and their self-worth.
I think the general idea is that when people do this, they’re hoping their spouse will lift them up. It’s a game to solicit compliments.
“I feel fat” is intended to produce a “No you don’t, you look beautiful.” The problem is, most people fall for it, and by answering with the expected answer, they reward their spouse for this bad behaviour. So, the next time their spouse is feeling like they need a compliment, instead of just saying “I need you to say something nice to me.” they again play the “I feel fat” game.
The problem is, eventually the other spouse might actually start believing them. They might start thinking “yeah, you know what, she is getting fat”. And the thing is: it’s not about the weight. It’s about the perception. Yesterday I wrote “confidence is sexy”, well, the opposite is true too. Tell someone you aren’t attractive enough, and they’ll start to believe you.
And it doesn’t matter if you’re talking about weight, breast size, thighs, clumsiness, prowess at work, athletic ability, or what. The thing you should ask yourself is: is this really how I want my spouse to see me? Because you’re slowly programming them to see you that way.
How do we help our spouses with this?
Don’t lie. Not even white lies. Because we think white lies don’t hurt anyone, but they do. In this case, they teach our spouse that it’s okay to play these kinds of games.
So, what do we do instead. For example, how do you deal with the “I look fat” question? Well, it depends. If your spouse really is starting to put on weight, you could go with “Well, I still find you sexy.” That way you aren’t lying, but you are still showing that you find them attractive. Or, if you’re brave, you could address the actual issue. You don’t have to be cruel and say “Yeah, you do look fat.” But, you can say “Well, what do you want to about that? I’ll help you if you want.” which will lead into a productive conversation instead of a fishing expedition.
If they aren’t overweight and they’re merely fishing for compliments, then you can simply ask “What made you ask that?” which, again, can start a real conversation instead of playing games.