One of the most difficult challenges in life is when your partner isn’t on the same page you are. In some cases, this might not be a big deal. Your partner might not like the same movies you do, so you go to a movie once a month with your friends. Maybe you don’t care about playing video games, so you quietly read a book while your partner enjoys video game time. It’s more difficult when you are trying to make substantial changes to your lifestyle, such as getting healthy, and your partner isn’t convinced.
While you might not succeed immediately, there are some things you can do to increase the chances that your partner will join you in your quest for healthier habits.
First of all, it’s important to avoid nagging. Telling your partner that s/he should be healthier isn’t going to help matters. Even if you focus on health, and your worry about your partner’s health (and avoid appearance-related comments), you can come across as nagging. Chances are, your partner already knows that s/he needs to make changes. You bringing it up constantly isn’t going to engender feelings of compliance. Instead, you are more likely to encourage resentment and your partner might even dig in a little more.
Do what you can to avoid nagging. When you feel like complaining or nagging, stop yourself. Remember that one of the best things you can do is be a good example to get your partner interested in joining you.
Invite Your Partner to Join You
Look for activities you can do together. You don’t need to go to the gym together. Instead, you can engage in physical activities that are more “fun” and don’t feel like exercise. Suggest that you take a walk together on summer evenings. It can be a good way to get out and enjoy nature. My husband and I used to like playing tennis on cool autumn days. Go for bike rides. Go hiking. There are a lot of great ways to increase your physical activity together while enjoying each other’s company.
If you have children, you can get them involved as well. Healthy activity masquerading as a family baseball game or picnic outing can be a good way to build happy memories as a family while still doing something active.
Ask for Help and Advice
Rather than tell your partner what s/he should be doing, ask for help and advice. You can ask for an opinion about an exercise program you want to start or about a new food you want to try. You can even say something like, “I have a goal to work up to X reps at this weight. Can you check in with me each week and hold me accountable?” As your partner helps you focus on your goals, s/he might eventually become interested in participating as well. This can be a good way to start a conversation about healthy habits as well. You might be surprised to learn that your request for help results in your partner looking for information that will help you. Some of that might even encourage changes in your partner at some point.
Set Up Your Home for Healthier Food Choices
You can also set up your home for healthier food choices. If you are struggling as a family with creating healthy meals (or even finding the time to cook at home), offer to put yourself in charge of meal planning and preparation. There are a number of resources that you can turn to for information about healthy meals that can be prepared in 30 minutes or less, as well as resources that can help you plan four or five meals a week. Shop with a list and stock up on healthy alternatives so that snacking isn’t as unhealthy. Invite your partner to help you create menus and shopping lists, and make it a challenge for the two of you to put together plans that combine health with easy preparation.
As you start making these small changes to your lifestyle, your partner will likely start to get involved. If you make it an inclusive option that is an invitation, rather than something you see as needing a “fix,” you will be far more likely to succeed together.
What are some of your tips for encouraging your partner to make healthy lifestyle changes?