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Sometimes, you don’t need to talk about it….

I know I’m a little young to be doling out marriage advice, so when Kevin and I started this blog, we sought out the advice of older couples who had been married quite a while and interviewed them about their communication and health habits. Today I want to introduce you to our first couple, R and S, and their journey through trying to improve their health and marriage.

Both R and S are in their mid-fifties and S has been gradually improving her diet and exercise over the last few years. She was diagnosed with osteopenia (the precursor to osteoporosis) and has been doing everything possible to avoid additional bone loss including eating better diet and getting more physical activity. R, on the other hand, has been working more and more as the years go by and has recently changed his commute to work from a 30 minute bike ride to a 45 minute drive. He has less time for physical activity and doesn’t always eat the best diet. S is becoming worried not only about his waistline, but about his health as well. She knows that a lack of physical activity and weight gain increases his risk for heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers.

When I asked her about sitting down with her husband and having a conversation, she balked. “I wouldn’t want to hurt his feelings!” she said. She went on to explain that she really feels that making the choice to lose weight needed to be her husband’s decision and she didn’t want to pressure him.  Instead, she keeps healthy foods around the house and invites him along when she does yard work or takes a walk after dinner.

Recently, R decided to start a weight loss program. He became concerned about his growing waistline and didn’t like the idea that he had to buy a larger pants size. He mostly has been focusing on decreasing his caloric intake, but tries to get some exercise at least three times a week. I was very interested in what caused this change. He said that he knew he was gaining weight and was concerned about his health, and he was definitely able to take the hint from his wife; she would go for jogs, prepare healthy meals, and share her successes. He knew how important health was to her, and when he saw the positive changes she made, he knew he wanted the same. When I asked him how he would respond if she had directly confronted him, he said, “Oh, I would have felt guilty, not offended.”

It seems that for these two, non-verbal communication was just as effective as sitting down and having a conversation. I know that it can be challenging to get your spouse or partner to change their habits, and for some, direct confrontation may not be the best option. I think this is a great example of how modeling the change you want to see in your spouse can have a positive effect. Sometimes just being a good role model is all you need to do!

Have you ever done this for your spouse?

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Joan Frey on November 11, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    This is a great success story, and a familiar one. Even the people seem familiar…keep up the good work!
    J and A

    Reply

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