Clearing Your Hurdles Part 4: The Unsupportive Spouse

This is the final installment of the Clearing Your Hurdles Series I started in November. And I’ve definitely saved the touchiest subject for last. Dealing with friends, family members, co-workers, and picky eaters seems like a walk in the park compared to working with, over, around, or through an unsupportive spouse or partner. But, as with any obstacle to success, there are ways to deal with this in a positive manner. With effort and luck, you may even bring them around to your way of thinking! 

Let’s dive in. 

You’ve made the decision to get your eating, exercise, and lifestyle on track to meet your health and wellness goals. You’ve got a plan of action, you’re implementing it and you’re seeing results. You’re feeling good, looking good, and keeping yourself motivated to make your progress last. But hold on…your main squeeze is starting to push back, starting to complain about the change in what’s in the pantry, starting to resent your time spent exercising instead of couch-sitting, starting to (maybe) sabotage your efforts with ‘treats’ or complaints about feeling left out. What do you do now? 

This is an all too common obstacle for many, many people who are making positive changes in their lives. And unfortunately this is often the obstacle that derails their progress, sometimes permanently. But that doesn’t need to be the case. There are effective ways to stay motivated, and keep moving forward. 

Here are a few tips to help keep you on-target —

Communicate!  We can’t solve a problem unless we know what the problem is. So, even though it might be difficult or uncomfortable, sit down and have a heart to heart with your sweetie. Find out what their issues really are. Is it the food? Is it your new love of walking/working out? Is it fear of losing you because you’re even more awesome than you were before? Once you know what the problem is you can start to address it in a way that reinforces why you are making these changes, and reassures them that they are still your number one. 

Now that you know what the problem is you can really hone your approach to dealing with it. In my experience most of the resistance comes from a place of fear. Change is scary, and it’s especially scary for the person who isn’t the one deciding to make these changes. Whether the push-back and lack of support you’re feeling is centered on food, or time, or activities, try to work out a cooperative approach to help your partner feel included and invested in helping you succeed. 

Let’s look at the food angle first. If you’re hearing that your other half doesn’t like the new way you are eating, see if you can work together to create meals you both enjoy. Neither of you has to eat anything you don’t want to—you are adults after all. But there are a lot of ways to accommodate everyone’s tastes and needs in a meal. If you are avoiding refined carbs (pastas, breads, cous cous, etc) but your partner loves those things it makes sense to build a meal where they can have their favorites and you can substitute spiralized veggie noodles for the pasta, or make cauliflower cous cous for yourself. I like to think of this as a Flexitarian approach to creating meals, allowing room for everyone’s preferences within the core theme of the dish. 

Additionally, I think getting your honey into the kitchen with you is very helpful in resolving food centric conflict . Just like with getting picky eaters to be more open-minded and adventurous, cooking with your partner can help them feel more invested in the meal and help strengthen your relationship. There are entire film plots built around how sexy cooking together can be, so give it a try! 

But what if the conflict isn’t about food, but about moving around more and ‘chilling’ less. A lot of people don’t see the value in lacing up their shoes and heading out for a walk after a long day of work, and commuting. They want to sit on a comfy couch and catch up on their favorite shows. But you, you know the benefits of getting fresh air, and sunlight, and moving your body. You sleep better, feel better, and are shedding some excess body fat. If your spouse is someone who’d rather not go along on walk, or join you at a yoga class, see if you can agree on an activity they would enjoy and then work that into your schedules. Date night could turn into Date Day, and you could go for a bike ride, or try out Stand-Up-Paddle Boarding, go kayaking, or take a rock climbing class. Striking a balance in your activities that accommodates your partner’s likes can often be the difference between resentment and whole-hearted support. 

An added benefit of cooking together, and finding new activities the two of you can enjoy together is that this fosters a renewed sense of partnership and connection, and that addresses the issue of fear of loss that is often felt by partners when one decides to make big changes and the other doesn’t. It’s normal for the other person to worry that they are being left behind or might be ‘traded-in’ for a newer model. Of course YOU know that’s not what your intentions are. You know that you’re doing this to be your most awesome amazing self, to live longer and have more time with your sweetie-pie. By communicating honestly, and working to acknowledge and alleviate your partner’s concerns, you’ll give them the opportunity to see that what’s good for you is good for them and the relationship. 

Choosing to be your healthiest self ultimately is a gift you are giving not just to you, but to your partner as well. Framed that way, they will most likely become your biggest supporter. 

To read this series from the beginning click here

If you’re ready to get started setting your goals and creating a plan to achieve them, contact me! I have openings for clients who are ready to do the work and reap the rewards of taking charge of their health. 

Are you feeling supported at home? Have you found ways to include your love-bug into your new healthy lifestyle? Share your story, tips, and tricks below in the comments.