This Is What Keeps a Marriage Strong
The Rule: No Getting Fat
Johanna Sawalha, 39 \ Ziad Sawalha, 41 \ San Antonio \ Married 4 years
Johanna says: "In my first marriage weight was a real sticking point. My husband wouldn't have sex with me if I gained three pounds. In Ziad's previous relationship, his wife gained weight after pregnancy and he just wasn't hot for her anymore. We both ended up resenting our partners and didn't want to repeat the same mistakes, so we decided on this rule. The idea is that if we both stay fit, then weight doesn't become a bargaining chip. We try to keep only healthy food in the house and we also go to the gym together three times a week and play squash -- it's like having healthy dates every week where we can reconnect. There's a certain level of honor and respect in wanting to be as attractive as we can be for each other -- and it certainly keeps our marriage spicy."
Ziad says: "Jo's always been in great shape, but I, on the other hand, could definitely be doing a better job of staying fit! When I see her working out in the gym, I'm motivated to keep my end of the bargain. I want her to be as physically attracted to me as I am to her. It's a two-way street. In the end, we're both watching out for each other to make sure we are proud of who we are and how we look. Our marriage is strong for many reasons, but at the very least, I know I'll always be attracted to my wife."
The therapist says: "While this rule might seem superficial to some, it's more than skin-deep," says Dr. Lombardo. "People who exercise are not only physically healthier but also happier. Research shows exercise helps combat depression and stress, boosts self-confidence, improves optimistic thinking, and even enhances libido -- all things that are vital for a strong, lasting relationship. And exercising together is a great way to bond."