So there you are, cruising along your health and wellness path, crushing goals, busting through plateaus and generally feeling super awesome … but the one you love isn’t along for the ride.
If you’ve ever been through it, you know just how challenging this scenario can be for your relationship. But it doesn’t have to be.
Here are some ways you can navigate this relationship minefield.
How to Cope with Your Partner’s Unhealthy Habits
Don’t nag. Your partner knows that a bag of Oreos isn’t a proper dinner. You don’t need to tell him over and over while attempting to force-feed him broccoli. The fastest way to get another adult to stop listening to your “helpful guidance” is to treat him like you’re his mom. Don’t be that person. Nobody likes that person.
Be a role model for positive change. Sometimes all people need is to know is that there’s a better way. It’s easy to get stuck in this pattern of thinking that as we age, stuff stops working efficiently and that’s just the way it is. But if you’re moving well and feeling great, that might be the thing your partner needs to see to recognize that he really does have some control over his own health and wellness. Empowering others to take control over their own lives is how you inspire people to change. Many times, people don’t change their habits because they, on some level, don’t believe that they’ve got the power to cause positive change for themselves. Show your mate what’s possible.
Get creative with meals. Sometimes you’ve gotta split the difference. If he wants fried chicken and you want loads of veggies, why not oven-bake some “fried chicken” and use it to make a big salad? It’s called compromise, people.
Find common ground. If your partner hates to run, stop asking if he wants to go. Instead, focus your energy on healthier habits that you can do together — like going for an evening walk after dinner to talk about your day and bond. Suggest something fun, like joining a kickball league. No one wants to be the person who sucks at an activity (or even just feels like you might suck at it), so pick something that is more in your partner’s comfort zone and he may be more likely to want in.
Don’t be afraid to go it alone. Don’t let him make you feel bad about wanting to engage in activities that don’t include him. Always offer him a chance to take part but don’t skip it if he doesn’t. Remember that your health and wellness is your priority. Sometimes your mate may pick a dinner spot that’s got nothing healthy on the menu. Decide whether you want to treat yourself to something decadent or whether you veto the choice for yourself. Above all else, don’t put the needs and wishes of others above yours if the person doesn’t want to consider yours.
Stand your ground. His choices about himself are his thing, but don’t let those choices have a domino effect on you. People who love you shouldn’t be asking or tempting you to give up your desire to be healthy and live well. They also shouldn’t be consistently standing in your way as you try to reach your reasonable and healthy goals. If that’s happening, it’s time to have a conversation with your mate — there could be more going on under the surface that needs to be addressed.
Understand that there may be insecurity. This is a tough nut to crack. No one wants to admit that they are insecure about themselves or their relationship. Couple this with our innate resistance to change and we’re treading dangerously close to “hot mess” territory. In my experience, as the healthier partner implements all this change into their own life — finding more happiness in their journey, starting to feel better and gaining confidence — the unhealthier partner may feel threatened and worry that they might be the next thing that changes. Many times, a partner may outright reject the healthy lifestyle change because they fear it may cost them the person that they love. If you look at it through that lens, you can see why your partner seems to be acting so unreasonably. Getting to the bottom of this one is challenging, but if you suspect that this is going on in your relationship, reassurance is key. Continue to let your partner know how much you appreciate him, how happy he makes you and how much your health has strengthened the relationship. A little compassion goes a long way.
What strategies do you have for dealing with unhealthy behaviors in those you love? —Alison