How to talk to your spouse about being healthy
Before you read any further, I would just like to put it out there for the sake of my loving husband, that I was not the one who had to talk to my spouse about being healthy. No, I was on the other side of this discussion, or the other side of the ice cream bowl, if you will. It wasn’t until after our son was born that we learned more about what was in our food and how it affected our bodies and both became motivated to cut out certain foods and make better choices with eating.
Being active and working out was always one of Josh’s passions, but I always saw it as something you had to work really hard at to get even the littlest results. However, it wasn’t long after we started cutting out sugar and making healthier choices as a whole, that we started to see results from working out way faster than we had in the past! This, and switching up my fitness routine gave me so much more motivation to be active than I had in the past! It eventually became my own thing that I wanted to do- for myself. But all this didn’t come until after Josh and I had many talks about eating habits, fitness routines, and the like.
Today, I’m so thankful he said some of the hard things he felt lead to say. He loved me enough to make sure I was taking care of myself for the sake of being healthy and able to do all the things I would want to do in the future. If you’re struggling with wanting to talk to your spouse about being healthy and/or active but aren’t sure what to say, take a look at these pointers that will remind your spouse that you’re on their side, you still think they’re awesome, and you want the best for them!
Let them know it’s not about physical appearance
You know your spouse better than I do. Try to be sensitive to their feelings and let them know that they are the only person for you and that this is something you want for the both of you that goes way beyond just looking better. I know that in the past, if my husband mentioned being active to me, my mind would hear, “You’re not pretty enough so you better do this to make our marriage better,” when that’s not what he was saying at all! But it was in those moments of vulnerability that my insecurities bubbles to the surface and I took his concern to be insulting.
Lead by example
If you’re reading this, you might assume that most people who are trying to get their spouse to be healthy are, of course, already healthy and active people, but that’s not always the case. There are always those who like what they see in others, and think it might look nice on their spouse too, but dismiss the idea of applying it to their own lives. I don’t mean to call anyone out here, but just ask yourself if you’re willing to do everything and more that you’re asking your spouse to do. One rule of thumb that I try to follow (not just with working out, because my husband usually trumps me in that area anyway, but in all areas of marriage) is to have the same- or higher- standards for yourself.
If you don’t want your spouse to eat junk, make sure you’ve already stopped eating junk. My suggestion is, always try on your requests and standards before you ask your spouse to follow them. And then decide if it’s reasonable or need reconsideration. And NEVER try to get your spouse to do something because you want more motivation yourself. If you think to yourself, “I wouldn’t eat so bad if my husband/wife helped me to make better choices,” then you’re not ready to ask them to be healthy. There’s nothing wrong with initiating new goals together, and holding each other accountable when those goals are agreed upon, but don’t make health and fitness something that will later turn into resentment towards your spouse.
Do what you can to cut out distractions and make it easy(-er)
Studies show that if you want to reinforce a new habit, you need to cut out the obstacles. This is especially true when your new habit it something that your spouse might not actually want to do on their own. When obstacles arise in front of something we didn’t really want to do in the first place, how likely are we to push through and do it anyway? Me, I’m a sucker for saying, “Eh, maybe I’ll get to the gym later” or , “Well this is the first time we’ve eaten junk this week so that’s not so bad.” My point is, making new habits is hard- do what you can to make it as easy as possible later.
If you and your spouse are trying to cut out fast food and takeout, try to plan and prep simple meals a week ahead so when the times comes, you stick to your plan. This could also mean helping to make sure his/her gym clothes are clean, or watching the kids so he/she’s free to get out and go. If you get the chance, invite your spouse to be active with you. I love working out with my husband; in fact, we often work out together before we head to dinner on date nights. It’s just something we both enjoy, so why not make a date out of it?
Be sure to watch out for my next point, though…
Do not be their only motivation
When trying to get your spouse to begin a workout routine, they may struggle to find the intrinsic motivation (motivation that comes from within) they need in order to make being active and healthy a habit and eventually a lifestyle. In the beginning, their only motivation may be just the fact that you want them to (or have been nagging them to) be healthy and make some lifestyle changes. And that’s pretty much what you should expect in the first stages. Hey, at least they care enough to do it for you. But be careful not to let that be their only motivation.
I’ll be completely honest here, when I started working out and eating healthy, my only motivation was to be attractive to my husband who had been trying to get me to make working out part of my routine. Is that something I still want today? Well, sure. But I’ve found so many other forms of motivation along the way! Some of those include: getting a bit of “me-time” in the mornings, growing stronger, feeling better, gaining so much confidence, and just knowing that my health is in-check.
Although your spouse might be a lot more motivated to be active if they have a buddy, make sure they also feel confident (and motivated) enough to workout on their own time, when they have it. Encourage them to find their own motivation for working out. A concerned spouse can nag as much as they want, but a person won’t be motivated to be healthy unless they find their own reasons that are strong enough to stick to.
Remind them that being active doesn’t require a gym membership.
This was my excuse for so many months. I always believed that I would be 100x more motivated to work out once a got a gym membership. That’s what I told myself and my husband. And then I got a gym membership and I told myself and my husband that it was too much of a hassle to pack up our son to go to an overcrowded hot gym.
Since finding my own motivation, I freaking love going to the gym. But even when the gym isn’t an option, there are still so many ways to be active. Take a peek at these bodyweight workouts for instance. Or why not also get the kids involved in a little early morning cardio? If you don’t have a sidewalk, many parks have paved pathways for biking and running. Sometimes a gym membership, as much as it is helpful and awesome, can also be an excuse to not be active on days when you’re stuck at home.
Do what is best for your relationship
There may be times when you feel as though you’re talking to a wall when it comes to convincing your spouse to be healthy. If you’ve asked them to put down the Krispy Kreme’s once, you’ve asked them 1000 times. Like I said before, a concerned spouse can nag as much as they want, but a person won’t be motivated to be healthy unless they find their own reasons that are strong enough to stick to. Plain as that. Try to feel out how your spouse is receiving your input. Are they becoming insecure? Resentful? Have they maybe even started lying to you? Although a person’s health is extremely important, the health of your relationship is more so. Always do your best to keep the doors of communication open and ask for feedback from your spouse on how you’re making them feel. Are they ok with you pushing them or do they really need you to just let it go for a while? Don’t be afraid to just ask where they’re at!
Have you had to have a tough health conversation with your spouse?
What worked to get them motivated??
Or maybe you were on the other end of that conversation; were there things your spouse said that made you want to change for the better?
Let me know in the comments below and share with a friend!
Shann Eva says
These are really great tips. I was also the one in my relationship that needed to get healthy. My spouse really helped me by leading by example, and then he was also a great support when I decided to eat healthier. That support really helped me stick to the changes.
Men can be tricky when it comes to health because they don’t necessarily care about being thin like else. But great tips to break it down lightly!
I thank you , point taken. I hope you guys work threw this situation. I myself will take your advice and get a whole new life with new friends. I have moved on.
Thanks for the thought about making sure your spouse knows why you want them to be healthier. For me it is not about how he looks, but that he is healthy and hopefully we will grow old together watching our family grow. I am a pretty healthy eater, and exercise some, and would so love for my husband to join me, but may be I have not clearly communicated why.
Karen Coghlan says
Like you my husband is interested in eating healthy… But I find I am stil fighting with my own unhealthy food desires…
Rebecca Bryant says
My husband is not much of a healthy eater. These are great tips fro me to use to talk wiht him.
Mrs Major Hoff says
I really appreciated your tips. I also believe you don’t have to go to a gym to be active. My fitbit keeps me super motivated, lol.
Terri Steffes says
I’m the one that is on the wrong side of the ice cream bowl. I read your post with great interest. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
The more open you are in your relationships, the easier these conversations will be too. If you are used to talking about everythign this will be the same thing. We’re really working on this this year.
Taylor Mobley says
i am lucky that my husband and I are both very healthy. We love creating new meals together and eating right. Thanks for these tips 🙂
This is a very important issue. We try to be active and eat healthy. We also encourage the kids to eat healthy and be active.
Michelle Myers says
This is such great advice! I especially like the tip about not being their only motivation!
I know my Husband takes my lead when it comes to being healthy. If I eat healthy, he does too.
tp keane says
Some great tips. Sometimes it can be hard to approach the subject, especially if they’re sensitive about it. Sometimes they already know and don’t want to talk
Lead by example is great! My husband is genetically blessed to be skinny, but still have high cholesterol. I try to incorporate a lot of veggies into our diet, and cut back on red meat. He loves to run, I feel like I run around after my kids all day long and am exhausted by the end of the day…so we are working on balance with both of us, better food for him, more intentional activity for me.
I’ve tried all of the above. But my hubby is in super great health despite his diet and no exercise plan. LOL So he doesn’t see any benefits to changing what works. I wish it were that easy for me!
Amanda Love says
It’s nice to include your spouse in being healthy especially if they’re used to living an unhealthy lifestyle. I think it’s important to find what works for them so that they will be motivated to continue. These tips that you have here are really going to help a lot of people convince their spouses to switch to a healthier lifestyle.
I have these kinds of talks with hubby all the time!!! At first he thought I was insulting him, but now he has come to realize that I’m just trying to be caring 🙂
“Let them know it’s not about physical appearance.” This is great advice as you don’t want to give off the wrong impression and hurt your S/O’s feelings.
I’m not married but I will definitely have to keep these tips in my mind if I’m married down the road and in this situation
My husband and I clash here. He believes stuff from the internet and gets into fad diets and I just don’t. I believe in balance and calories in and calories out. It’s so weird how health can become such a big thing in relationships.
Amber Nelson says
Great tips! My husband and I try to motivate each other. When we get on that bad wagon, we both go out and go for a run or do something to help motivate each other. It works!
These are great tips. Sure thing thing that leading by example helps. Luckily we both motivate and support eachother amicably.
Whitney S. says
I think it’s great to have the same goals, which makes the change a whole lot easier (Like if he wants to lose weight or gain muscle or wants to prepare for a marathon and she wants to lose weight, become stronger, etc). It will be much easier to eat healthier and to call each other out, if one is “slipping”
I try to eat healthy and do better than in the past, but I do need improvement. I cook at least six times/week. I try to do lots of chicken and veggies. I buy less junk but have not completely cut it out. Also, I workout really hard at the gym. This is “big” for me because I never had the confidence to do anything in years past. When I found out my osteopenia had gone to osteoporosis, before age sixty I took action. I’m totally devoted to the gym, 4-5 times/week, I do strength training and now love it! I only have a little osteoporosis left and I’m hoping that next summer (after another insurance paid for test) that I’ll be able to go completely off the meds.
Here’s the problem: my husband is obese, he is t least 100 lbs over-weight. He’s a big guy and I would never expect him to be slim. I have tried talking to him. I have told him he is the love of my love, I want him to grow old with me and have fun after retirement (3 years away), I want us to enjoy grandchildren, him to be able to play golf and us travel. I want him to be healthy. He works, mostly at a desk and has numerous amblitory issues already due to flat feet (2 major surgeries), a knee replacement and a hip replacement. He is 63 years old.
He has dieted in the past, but ALWAYS gains the weight back. I have asked him to get counseling or whatever he needs to do. I have told him that I worry every single day that he is going to have a heart attack or stroke. Yet, all his numbers health-wise are good. His blood pressure is slightly high.
Any suggestions? I’m concerned that he will die at an early age.
Angela Tolsma says
I love how the first thing you said was that it wasn’t about physical appearance. That is so important and key. You have so many amazing and important things in here and I really appreciated reading this.
Faith Bahtya says
My best approach was sharing my honest concerns regarding how I want the two of us to be around for one another and to take care of our bodies by eating healthy we already both work out but his eating habits are not conducive to a healthy heart and or healthy weight. That being said I had a heart-to-heart talk with him about how he felt when his father became ill with cancer and he saw him physically going down and one of the things that bothered him the most was that his father would not make healthy choices to eat right and got very little exercise and he commented how he never wanted to end up like his father did and be obese and his older years, so I was able to use this analogy and ask him to please consider eating healthier because I new he did not want me to go through what he saw his mother go through. I sometimes have to remind him of this has he still not completely on board.