J.D. Moyer

beat maker, sci-fi writer, self-experimenter

How I Helped My Wife Get Skinny (Freedom and Joy, not Dieting)

Kia hotel

Not a blues dancing outfit.

This isn’t a post about diet or exercise (at least not directly). It’s also not about exerting control over my wife. The opposite, in fact.

This post is about how your body-brain system is going to wring some pleasure out of life, one way or another, and the choices you have in terms of how that happens.

Kia wanted to go dancing with her friend Myra on a Wednesday night. Would I be willing to do bedtime and stay home with our daughter that night? Couples with young kids have these kinds of conversations.

Sure, no problem. I went out dancing every Wednesday night for about ten years when Spesh and I were hosting Qoöl at 111 Minna, so I kind of owed her.

She enjoyed the night out (blues dancing) so much that she wanted to do it every Wednesday, or at least most Wednesdays. How did I feel about that? Well, I had mixed feelings. I was happy to see her so happy with a new activity, but I felt some jealousy (because it’s partner dancing with people I didn’t know) and some envy (because I was at home, not going out, while she was out having a good time with her friends).

Kia did ask if I would be interested in coming out too. But I would pay money to not go partner blues dancing. And she didn’t really want me to go on a regular basis, because that would mean getting a babysitter every Wednesday night, which is expensive and logistically difficult.

So I sucked it up and said yes, as long as we could plan it on a week-by-week basis.

For a couple months everything went as expected. She had a great time dancing every Wednesday night and I felt a little sorry for myself at home.

There were some benefits. Kia was really nice to me because I was being supportive. Also, we both noticed she was getting really fit. Like, high school waist and weight fit. She’d been reasonably happy with her fitness and figure before she started blues dancing (Dailey Method is her main exercise), but her friends were starting to ask what the heck she was doing.

We speculated about why. Part of it, obviously, was the extra several hours a week of exercise. Blues dancing is not insanely strenuous, but if you do it for long enough it’s a good workout.

Kia told me she’d been feeling more of a desire to be physically attractive, and that partner dancing was part of that. The dance nights had heightened her motivation to eat well, exercise every day, and generally take care of herself. At first I felt jealous hearing that, but this feeling was tempered by what I’d since learned about the local blues dancing scene: almost no booze, all (adult) ages, loose gender roles (MF, FF, MM partner combos), with actual dancing being the focus (not dancing as a prelude to hooking up, as observed in most clubbing events). Also, it wasn’t like she hadn’t been taking care of herself before. She was merely stepping it up.

The third factor we talked about was the sheer joy of dancing. Forty-somethings with kids, demanding careers, a mortgage, aging parents to assist, etc. — often our demographic group runs a little short in the fun times department. This can lead to grabbing fleeting pleasures from food, drink, and <insert your vice here>. Blues dancing, for Kia, was filling her joy cup to overflowing. She noticed she simply had less desire for desserts, wine, and other “treats.”

My Reaction

When your partner in life steps it up, you have a choice. You can try to hold them back, you can do nothing and feel a little resentful or envious, or you can step it up yourself. Obviously the last choice is best, but it requires energy and action.

A friend mentioned he was playing racquetball regularly at the Oakland Y. I had played racquetball in college and loved it. I hadn’t played much in the two decades since, but I asked if I could join him for a game. I hit that ball as hard as I could, worked up a sweat, and loved it. I’d been thinking about getting back into racquetball for years, but now I was finally doing it. I bought myself protective goggles and a nice racquet, and kept playing every week. Tuesdays are now my racquetball night.

Predictably, I no longer feel envious of Kia’s dance nights.

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8 Comments

  1. Barry

    Is it not as likely that she’s around other men, and this is her driver for making herself more attractive?

    • Quite possibly, and that’s why I felt a little jealous. But a little jealousy when you’ve been married nearly twenty years isn’t a bad thing. It helps you not take your wife for granted, and it’s good for the male hormonal profile (T-boost). Also, I trust her.

  2. My husband and I have three young kids, but if we can get to go to the gym together once a week it is special- like a sweaty ‘date night’. Haha not as dirty as that sounds. Fun is important and good for you for being supportive.

  3. Kara

    Just started playing racquetball (as a new player) and experienced much the same reaction. Sports are an exhilarating way to exercise!

    Also, good on you for being supportive. 🙂

    • Racquetball is so fun! I’ve found that Youtube is a great resource for technique, especially new serves to try.

  4. Patty

    I’m glad you trust your wife. I had never seen blues dancing before so I looked it up on YouTube. Looks like forplay to me.

    • These reactions are interesting. I am getting the feeling some people feel like I am taking some kind of big risk by “letting” my wife go partner dancing.

      I have seen some of my good friends’ marriages go down in flames. Not a single one because one partner supported an activity the other one enjoyed, or decided to err on the side of being less controlling rather than over-controlling.

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