When you get into a serious relationship with somebody, you can often end up taking a greater concern in their health. You want them to look good, feel good and make positive choices in their life that help make the relationship better.
All too often, though, partners don’t actively work on their health. Instead, they eat what they want, smoke what they want, and slob around in front of the TV. Then they complain about not having enough energy or being too unfit to do outdoor activities. Worse still, some can develop serious health problems that require ongoing management and attention: two things that you could do without.
Approaching a partner with bad health habits, however, can be a challenge. Ideally, you want them to change their behaviours, but getting them to do so without causing a rift in the relationship can seem next to impossible.
So what should you say? How do you broach the topic of health with your partner? Let’s take a look.
Try Gentle Nudges
When it comes to health, people don’t respond well to commands from on high. The last thing that you should do is give direct orders to your partner to eat their greens, start exercising and stop smoking.
Richard Thaler is a behavioural economist at the University of Chicago. He believes that the best way to get people to make the right choices is to give them a small “nudge” in the right direction. Doing this, he says, is simple. All you do is make it easy for them to make the right choice. Instead of getting back home from a busy day and flopping on the sofa, ready to order a takeaway, go directly to the kitchen and start cooking.
It’s easy to whip up a healthy meal and, what’s more, your partner will eat it because it’s tasty and convenient. You could fill it with beans, vegetables, and herbs – all super healthy ingredients – and your partner would be none the wiser. You don’t even have to have a conversation about diet and food. You can just whip something up and make it too convenient for ordering take out. That’s an example of a gentle nudge.
Accept Your Helplessness
While you might think you have control over your partner’s life, you don’t. You can no more force them to visit the sexual health clinic than you can make them eat broccoli every night. They will make their own decisions.
What you don’t want is a situation where things become tense and awkward every time you drink your kale smoothie and they munch on a Danish pastry. Yes, processed junk food does damage to their body, but the direct approach rarely works.
Here are some ideas for what you might say instead:
“I love how healthy I feel after I eat well. I have so much more energy.”
“Have you tried this (healthy) recipe? Looks tasty.”
“Do you want to go hiking at the weekend?”
You get the point. As a partner, you can often feel the temptation to tell your partner what to do. But you can also arrange new behaviours on their behalf.