Published: February 10, 2013
Now that you have been exercising, eating nutritious meals, and feeling fitter, more energetic and healthier than ever, you can’t wait to get your spouse on board, right?
In fact, it is so gratifying to see the positive changes in your life that you can’t wait to get your brother, sister, kids, co-workers and neighbors involved too.
Congratulations. You’ve become that annoying pseudo-expert on all things nutritional and fitness related.
Don’t count on converting your spouse to be your first devotee.
Just because you are excited and doing great with your new-found fitness lifestyle, your spouse may not be ready to jump on the bandwagon. At least not yet.
You may be a part of what some wellness experts refer to as a “mixed-weight couple.”
Recent research carried out by the University of Puget Sound and University of Arizona found that couples with a significant difference in body mass ratios experienced more discord than couples that were more evenly yoked, weight-wise.
Couples who are both thin or obese fared better in relationship scores than those in which one partner is significantly fatter than the other.
According to Todd Whitmore, chief executive officer and president of the Cooper Wellness Center in Dallas, this enlightening observation echoes his organization’s findings.
His organization is especially concerned when one partner undergoes an exciting shift in health or wellness and wants to share their new-found passion with the other.
“It’s human nature that once you participate in a positive experience you want to share it with those you love,” he said. “The problem however is if your loved one isn’t ready to change then your unbridled enthusiasm will most likely not be received as you intend it. In fact, it might completely backfire which could then potentially extinguish your flame. I’m not saying this always happens…just don’t be surprised if it does.
“Change is difficult and when a spouse or close friend decides to change, even if it’s a positive change, then it often is viewed as a threat to the one being left behind. “What’s wrong with the way we’ve been living, eating, exercising for all these years? Am I suddenly not good enough for you?”
According to Dr. B. J. Fogg, of Stanford University, who teaches on persuasion science, “Humans are lazy, illogical and creatures of habit.”
That means that all the logical persuasion you might be wanting your partner to accept will not penetrate the barriers that prevent them from being ready to go through a change.
According to behavior experts, only when a person is emotionally ready to allow their routines to be upset and face the difficult process of undergoing change will they succeed.
Even if their partner has demonstrated how successful and easy a program is, there will still be a barrier of resistance to change that will only grow larger if challenged.
That brings up the next step of the persuasion process.
If you or a spouse are interested in losing weight, becoming more active, eliminating tobacco, or any other behavior modification, but have tried and failed in the past, it may be possible that you are trying to solve the wrong problem.
In other words, instead of jumping into a new program it may be more productive to first determine exactly why you are resistant to the change that you ostensibly want to accomplish.
In many cases, there are underlying emotional issues that affect behavior that might not be obvious.
If you are trying to help a spouse change their ways to become more fit, less obese or healthier in any other way, the more you urge, the less success you are likely to have.
In fact, your nagging may stiffen their resistance, even if they want to cooperate.
Whether you are trying to motivate yourself or your partner, it may be beneficial to spend some time investigating the underlying resistance to change.
If the emotional obstacles are not identified and resolved, long term change is not likely.