Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Spousal Support

Spousal Support

Married 11 years, I know first hand the importance of a supportive spouse. Even if your partner’s healthy resolve leaves much to be desired, with the right approach you can find the support you need and improve your partnership in the process. Consider variations on these four phrases when cultivating the interpersonal support you need to reach your health and fitness goals and bring you closer in the process.

1. “I couldn’t do this without you!”: Let your partner know how important their help and support is to you. Everyone wants to feel needed. There’s nothing more important to your relationship than helping the other person feel like THEY are the center of your universe. Be careful that you don’t spend too much time gushing about all the new people or the new lifestyle you’re discovering. Make your partner understand that that he/she is always most important. Feeling better about yourself happens when you make other people feel important and needed and no where is that more important than with your significant other.

2. “Want to go for a walk with me?” Even if the likelihood of it happening is slim, frequently invite your partner to join you on a walk, a swim, bike ride or a fitness class. Let him or her to pick the workout and you might just get a ‘yes’. Ask often and ask with the intent to spend more time together, not to “change” their habits, even if ultimately that’s what happens. If Sunday morning tradition has been coffee, donuts and the paper, try establishing some new ones. No one wants to feel judged or told what to do. Make sure your first priority is spending time together and that fitness become something you share.

3. “Thank you!”: Express your appreciation for even the smallest gesture that helps you to reach your goal, even if it’s just re-arranging their schedule so you can get to your workouts. Thank your partner for not tempting you with a trip to 31 Flavors, or by eating the one food you cant resist (mine is those pink frosted animal cookies with the little tiny sprinkles) in front of you. Rather than dismissing compliments, thank your partner for noticing even the slightest change. Regularly remind your significant other how much you appreciate their help.

4. “Wanna get busy?”: Even if your partner doesn’t yet share your healthy resolve, you both profit from your commitment. Communicate the mutual benefits of fitness, including improved energy, a boost in self-esteem, a better mood, a tighter body, lower cholesterol, a boost in stamina, better health and yes, better sex!

5. “Let’s make a deal.”: Don’t expect your partner to abruptly change his/her dining habits because you are. No one likes to be forced into doing something. Most of us need to do things on our own terms and when “we” are ready. So, make a deal. Offer to do something nice (or naughty) in exchange for his/her promise to “eat in” for the next 10 days - 30 days..whatever it takes. In exchange for going on a nice long walk with you, promise to assume one of his or her normal household responsibilities.