Relationships are hard to build and maintain BEFORE WLS and, yep, they can be even MORE difficult
after WLS. Here are some of the things that I have learned in my 14 years + post op journey:

1. It isn’t ALWAYS about ME. During the time before WLS and for a time after, I did need to
concentrate on my journey – making sure that I was jumping through hoops that would
eventually form a firm foundation for my success as I walked in health and fitness. I often had
to choose “me”; over the needs and wants of others. However, at some point, I had to realize
that it was important to think of others too … and that sometimes I even had to think of others
before myself.
As I began to see pounds drop quickly, I realized that my husband, the man who I loved dearly,
was also on my “ride”; of a lifetime towards health and fitness. I had a choice to either work to
draw him closer or to push him away. I chose closeness and I accomplished this through drawing
on the firm foundation that we had built in our marriage through our many years or marriage.
This meant communication became all-important – sharing feelings and making changes
sometimes based on those times where we were honest and open with each other.
2. Some relationships will end and that process might hurt. I was sharing with a woman at our
church that I was going to have surgery and she surprised me when she said, “Laura if you have
that surgery I will no longer be your friend”. I kind of laughed it off and gave her a little hug. On
my first visit, back to church after my surgery, I went up to her and gave her a hug, which was
what I usually did most Sundays. I was truly shocked and then hurt when she responded, “I told
you I would not talk to you if you had surgery – and I won”; And, to this day she has not.
I was not able to find out why I got that response. But, I did learn that sometimes people do not
understand my journey and that it is alright. I have gained many friends who are on a similar
journey as I am and I am so thankful those dear ones. I have learned that it is okay to let some
people go either by their choice or mine.

3. Relationships need to be cultivated. Good relationships don’t just happen. They take time,
patience, and two people who truly want to be together. This is true of spouses, lifetime
partners, family, and friends, plus others. Realizing that, I needed to make decisions about what
I was going to add to the relationships that I wanted to maintain. I needed to be committed to
finding the time to develop my important relationships as well as figuring out the ways I Was
going to make these people a priority in my life. For me, it started with developing the attitude
that it is not all about me all of the time. I needed to start acting like I thought highly of those I
had decided to build good relationships with. Whether it was being a helper to my husband as
he worked on his many projects by being his “gopher”; or doing other things that made him
know that I value him. With friends and family members I also still do things so that they will
know that I think highly of them – whether it’s sending them notes or texts of appreciation or
showing them acts of kindness.
It’s important for us as WLS patients to be careful to not use our surgery as an excuse to not treat
people as a priority in our lives. They are along on our wild ride with all its ups and down of health and
fitness. We need to be careful that we don’t throw those we love dearly off “our bus”.

Application points (write down your answers):

  • Who are the top three people you want to build a closer relationship with?
  • How have you been cultivating your relationship since you started your journey as a pre-op?What can you do to build on the foundation that already exists?
  • When are you going to apply those things that you have written down? How about starting

About the Author

Laura Van Tuyl
14-year RNY post-op
On November 28, 2018, Laura and her husband, Larry, will celebrate 50 years of marriage. She
maintains close and healthy relationships with their two grown children and their spouses and their 12
grandchildren. She is actively involved in several volunteer organizations, including the WLSFA as a
member of the Executive Board for 7 years. She lived in Russia for 10 years and was actively involved in building leadership teams both here and in the United States.

NOTE: The Weight Loss Surgery Foundation of America is a 501(c) 3 Nonprofit Organization. We have earned the Guide Stars Platinum Seal of Transparency. The WLSFA is a 100% Volunteer Organization with no paid executives or staff. We are fellow weight loss surgery patients, paying it forward since 2010.

Questions? Please contact the WLSFA at 415-234-9074 or email us at

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