“What if my partner is NOT supportive of my fitness goals? I feel like he resents me for trying to be healthy. I feel like he sabotages my efforts. Why is trying to get me to quit?”
This person has been married for several years and is quite happy in her marriage except for this new development. Her husband is a good person and is supportive of his wife in many other ways. So assuming that he is a good person, why would my friend feel this way?
After much thought and discussion and a little bit of research I have some ideas why a generally caring person might respond negatively when his or her partner starts a new health plan. These ideas are applicable to wives, husbands, girlfriends, boyfriends, best friends, or any other close relationship.
Why doesn’t my partner support my fitness goals?
Change is hard.
Most people dislike change. This especially true for change that occurs without the opportunity to provide input and over which a person has no control. So if you decide to adopt some healthy lifestyle changes without letting your partner know, he or she might be a little frustrated about it. Be sure to open the lines of communication so your partner fully understands what you intend to do and why you want to do it.
Read also: 10 Conversations Every Couple Needs to Have
If you have communicated about it, think about how the changes you are making affect your partner. Are you no longer keeping up with responsibilities that you have taken care of in the past? Do you have less alone time together because of the time you spend working out? Are you unable to participate in activities that you once did together? (ex. all night snack sessions, drinking a six pack, etc.)
Are you spending a lot of money on your new healthy endeavors? If you have decided to adopt a strict dietary standard such as going vegetarian, your partner may be disappointed with the food options when you eat together. If you can identify something specific that has changed in your relationship you can try to soften the blow and it may be easier to help your partner cope with the change.
People can feel guilty when they see others doing things that they know they should also be doing. This is especially true with exercise and eating well. So if you have decided to start exercising regularly and eating healthier, your partner may be feeling guilty that he or she is not doing it too. He or she may think (consciously or unconsciously) that it will be easier to get you to quit then to actually start doing it. He or she may make negative comments to you regarding your healthy food choices, make fun of how you look when you exercise, or just put you down in general to try to get you to quit.
Whatever you do, don’t quit. If your partner is feeling guilty because you are making healthy choices – it is not your problem. The problem is with your partner. You have the right to take care of yourself. You have the right to choose to eat foods that make you feel good. You have the right to exercise. You are worth the time and effort it takes to be healthy.
On the other hand, check yourself. Are you (consciously or unconsciously) saying and doing things to make your partner feel guilty. If you are constantly saying “look what I’m doing, I’m better then you” then you should probably stop. While you have the right to make healthy choices, you can’t force other people to do the same. You can set a good example and try positive encouragement. But making someone feel guilty is a weak motivator for change. Making people feel bad usually does not inspire them to make better choices. So keep your healthy habits up and keep a good attitude. Do what you need to do without expressing judgment toward others.
Everyone has insecurities.
Your partner may be worried that you are going to get in better shape then he or she is in, and then look for a new partner to match the new you. That may sound crazy but everyone has insecurities and most people get really good at hiding them. Your partner may be worried that you wont want to be with him or her once you get into great shape.
If this is the case, you can overcome it by paying extra attention to your partner’s feelings and showing them that you care. Speaking in their love language, let them know that you are committed to the relationship.
You are loved just as you are.
It may sound corny, but your partner may be truly happy with you as you are and with the life you have together. In this case he or she resents the fact that you are not as content as he or she is…because if you were you wouldn’t need to change anything. To solve this problem I suggest listening and really considering your partner’s perspective. For example, if your partner tells you he or she likes your legs – don’t blow it off.
Don’t argue or disagree with compliments. Listen to them. Consider that your partner means what he or she says. It is sometimes hard to internalize and believe good things about ourselves. Open communication about what your goals are and what you are trying to accomplish is essential. This communication needs to go both ways.
Read also: 8 Ways To Bring Happiness Into Your Marriage
What should I do?
To summarize from the points above – if you feel like your partner is upset, resentful, or sabotaging your efforts to make healthy changes:
- Keep at it. Exercise regularly and stick with your nutrition plan. You have the right to take care of yourself.
- Communicate openly and honestly about what changes you want to make and why you want to make them.
- Consider how the changes effect your partner (example, do you have less time together because of your time working out) and then try to minimize any negative effects.
- Check your attitude. Have you (consciously or unconsciously) said or done anything to make your partner feel guilty? Are you implying that you are better then your partner because you are trying to be more fit?
- Be sensitive to your partner’s feelings. Show extra love and attention.
- Listen to compliments and consider your partner’s point of view.
Basically just be caring to your partner. It is possible to be in a relationship and have different hobbies and interests from your partner. Your spouse, friend, fiance, etc may come around to joining your new healthy lifestyle, or not. Either way you keep moving in the direction of your goals and working to improve your relationship.
Personal shout out – I am so thankful to my husband for his continued support of all my goals. I know he wants us to succeed.