Getting Your Spouse to Exercise

Couple stretching in the park
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If there's one thing I've learned about marriage, it's this: You're not in charge of what the other person does. I know...ridiculous, isn't it? After all, you're married to this person for the rest of your life...shouldn't he or she do what you want them to do?

This kind of thinking often causes problems, especially when it comes to exercise. It can be tough on a relationship when one person is active and the other person isn't.

If you're the exerciser, you worry about the other person's weight along with their health, mortality, and stress levels. If you're the non-exerciser, you may feel guilty all the time for not being as active as the other person.

Encouraging Healthy Behaviors in Your Partner

Another thing I've learned about marriage is that you can't force someone to do something they don't want to do. However, there are ways you can nudge your partner in the right direction:

  • Be a good role model: Nagging your partner into exercise, as fun as that may be, usually backfires. Focusing on your own healthy behaviors may encourage your partner to do the same.
  • Use gentle encouragement: Plan after dinner walks and ask your spouse if he'd like to join you or invite her to the gym and offer to show her how things work. Just offering a strings-free invitation may be enough to get reluctant spouses moving.
  • Make it fun: Sometimes shouting, "Hey, let's go run 10 miles," just isn't going to work. However, something that's less like exercise - A bike ride, a tennis game, a walk in the park, may be more appealing. Make it about spending time together and having fun rather than about exercise.
  • Be honest: Rather than getting angry about your spouse's annoying habit of being his or her own person, try talking about what's really bothering you. Perhaps you're worried about their health or you want a better future. Maybe you simply want to understand why they're so against exercise - They may have reasons you're not even aware of, which could make you more sympathetic to their side of the story.

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