How to Encourage Your Partner to Get Healthy Without Causing a Rift
Part of a healthy relationship is accepting your partner as they are. With that in mind, it can be difficult to ask them to adopt habits for better health. Make that conversation a little less daunting by implementing a few proven strategies.
Navigating conversations about health with your partner can be a tricky tightrope to walk, especially if your partner is sensitive about the issue. Often, the considerations you take before starting those discussions can greatly shape the outcome.
Before acting or speaking rashly, you should take an ample amount of time to consider the variety of factors at play, or perhaps just bite your tongue.
Determine the root of resistance
If your significant other refuses to exercise, go to wellness appointments or try a more balanced diet, hold back your frustration. Instead of pushing for immediate change, figure out the source of reluctance. Have an honest conversation that’s free from criticism, so you can understand their reasoning better.
Although it’s counterintuitive, it’s not unusual for people to avoid medical appointments out of concern that something is wrong. People get nervous about going to the doctor for a checkup because they fear hearing bad news.
Once you can get your partner to open up to you, resist the urge to pounce with accusations and demands. If your partner shows vulnerability, it’s up to you to listen with an open heart. Sometimes, just talking through the issue is enough to motivate them to do better. There’s a good chance they already know change is necessary. Once they verbalize what’s holding them back, they can start accepting the need to act.
Don’t give unsolicited advice
Rather than acting as a coach or counselor, give your loved one a safe space to work through the thought process aloud and address any apprehensions about making lifestyle changes. Don’t offer your two cents unless it is requested. Friendly suggestions can be easily misconstrued as nagging or criticism, especially if it is a sensitive topic for your loved one.
Aim to stay on the same team by supporting their journey to healthier habits, rather than forcing changes. All you can do is express your concerns, lead by example and offer positive reinforcement. When appropriate, make your intentions clear. Explain that you want them to make positive changes so you can enjoy a long, happy life together, not because you’re concerned about their looks or what other people think.
Lead by example
If you’re ready to embrace healthy lifestyle changes, but your partner isn’t, focus on setting positive habits for yourself. While you can’t change your significant other’s eating habits, you can invite them to cook with you or offer to prepare a meal. If you’re going to the gym or on a walk, invite them along, without guilt. Still not interested? Ask for their support and make clear that you’re taking steps on your own health journey.
Healthy habits are often contagious. Once you start to see the benefits—more energy, less snoring, reduced aches and pains—you can only hope that your partner will want to join you.
While you may be coming to your partner with good intentions about their health, try to remember that your partner’s health is exactly that: theirs. All you can do is be supportive and keep the door open for them to start making changes whenever they’re ready.