How to Deal When You Get Healthy and Your S.O. Isn’t on Board
For many of us, 2016 was a doozy, but we here at Brit + Co are ready to hit refresh in 2017! Follow our Hit Refresh series through January for new ideas, hacks and skills that will help you achieve (and maintain!) those New Year’s resolutions.
Whether you have a fitness-related New Year’s resolution or you’re using 2017 to start fresh with a super healthy diet (go you!), the month of January is an awesome time to get started on pretty much any major health change. While your friends and family will probably be pretty psyched about your new lifestyle, they most likely don’t want to join you and do exactly what you’re doing, right? After all, not everyone wants to give up cheese or get up at 6am to hit the gym before work. So what do you do if your S.O., the person you may even live with, doesn’t want to participate? We break down what to expect if this happens to you and, more importantly, how to deal.
1. Let them know what you’re planning. If your decision to only eat raw food for the next three months or to work out five times per week when you normally only hit the gym occasionally comes out of left field, you risk catching your partner off guard. Rachel Goldman, PhD, an NYC-based clinical psychologist who specializes in health and wellness, says, “I always think it is a good idea to share your plans with your partner, for many reasons. This could impact your relationship or your time together, as well as change your overall routine, and that should be discussed and planned to ensure that it does not negatively impact your relationship.” For example, If you and your boo normally sleep late on Saturday mornings and then grab brunch, but now you’re going to be doing a long run every week to prepare for an upcoming race that will take up most of the morning, you’l definitely want to give them a heads up about that.
2. Try to get on the same page. Giving your partner a chance to join in on your new lifestyle is super important. Plus, when you let them know the changes you’re hoping to make, it “may plant the seed or encourage your partner to also make a change,” explains Rachel. “You could also invite them to participate with you so they don’t feel left out.” In general, Rachel notes that it’s a lot easier if the whole household is on board with whatever change you’re making, since it will be simpler to stick to, and no one will feel singled out.
Where you may run into trouble is if you and your boo are operating at totally different speeds.“If one partner starts going to the gym or exercising, but it doesn’t interfere with time that the couple spends together, that won’t necessarily negatively impact the relationship,” she says. “But if you now are starting to go on a run in the evenings when you and your partner used to sit on the couch, watch television and eat ice cream together, then that is going to change the dynamic of your relationship, as that was your routine together, and now it is not.”
3. If they don’t want to join you, communication is crazy important. If getting your S.O. on board with your healthy resolution just won’t be possible, don’t give up on your plans! You will just have to communicate with them about exactly what you need in order to be successful. First, be sure to pay special attention to the routines you already have and how they might change now that you’re prioritizing your health. If they’re not interested in going on a run together instead of your old routine, “maybe you could go on a run at another time and you can ask your partner to go on a walk together after dinner, instead of sitting on the couch and eating the ice cream,” suggests Rachel. That way, you’re still spending quality time together, but not at the expense of your goals.
“Whenever I talk to patients about making any kind of health-related change, I always explain how communication is key,” says Rachel. Even if your partner doesn’t agree with what you’re doing, you at least want them to be supportive. “Making a change without their support could negatively impact your relationship,” she notes. “But this goes with any new routine or change, not even health and wellness related — we always want our partners to support our decisions.”
4. Be aware of how your relationship could change. It’s possible that making a major change like this without your partner could cause the dynamic of your relationship to become different, and the best way to deal with that is to be prepared for it. “It may cause general interests and activities to shift,” says Rachel. “This may mean that you all of a sudden have less in common, as your routine and hobbies are different.” She also adds that you may not be spending as much time together due to your new health regimen. “Routines bring comfort to people and any shift or change can be overwhelming for both parties,” she explains. “The partner who is now trying to better their health could start resenting the other as they are out and trying to better themselves and their partner is not.” Imagine your S.O. on the couch eating potato chips while you go for a tough hill run. Though you might not blame them for not wanting to adopt your new habits, sometimes negative feelings can drum up anyway. So how can you handle this? Talk about it!
Rachel recommends being honest about your feelings, asking your partner how they feel about your new health routine and then coming up with a plan together. “You don’t have to feel bad about your new fitness or health routine, but you may have to compromise — as all relationships are built on compromises,” she says. “I always speak to my patients about having a healthy sense of selfishness. We tend to think ‘selfish’ is a bad thing, but when it comes to our health, it is okay to be selfish (to a degree). Without our health, what do we have? With that being said, communicate with your partner and come up with a plan that will work with your relationship, not work against it.”
5. Your partner might actually catch on, even if they say they don’t want to. Here’s some good news if you’re on your health journey solo: Your partner may start to absorb your new habits without even realizing it! “Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory tells us that people learn from one another, through observation, imitation and modeling,” explains Rachel. One of the ways we learn new behaviors is when others model them for us, so if your partner sees you getting healthy, losing weight or getting more fit, they may be encouraged to do so as well — despite saying otherwise. They also might catch on to some of the health benefits you’re having, like improved sleep and more energy. Once they realize they feel better, they may end up joining you after all!
Have you ever made a major health change without your partner? What happened? Tell us how you dealt with it @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)