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Monday, March 23, 2009

Telling Your Spouse (The Soft Way)

By Brothercrash, a member of the former My Fat Spouse forum.

I think that as time has evolved in my situation, I’ve learned some lessons that I’d like others to gain the benefit from. Hence, I am writing this guide to bringing it up with your loved one as a FIRST TIME APPROACH. I’ll also include my list of WHAT NOT TO DO and tenets of support. Yes, you are going to have to play a real role and work at this to make it work. But your relationship is worth it, isn’t it?

Some clarification before we begin on why I think I can help you. Let me tell you why I am uniquely qualified to speak on the matter before you read the whole article. Also, while I am not a certified counselor, therapist or psychologist;

I believe that the recommendations that I’m going to suggest are reasonable and in fact productive. You may wish to consult other posts to determine the correct course of action for your personal situation. My recommendations come from roughly a decade of helping people at varying stages of fitness, my own struggle with injury and weight gain, and helping loved ones drop weight and get healthier. I’m in the trenches. I’ve fought this battle several times already and come out successful in most cases.

I work in pharmaceutical sciences in the area of endocrine disorders, although I also work in other treatment areas as well. My background in solid science and my chosen career are directly related to healthcare. And while I am NOT a doctor, I work collaboratively with the medical community on these issues everyday. My position requires that I continue to keep abreast of the latest developments, studies and theories.

I do not have a website, I don’t charge for the personal training I continue to do today, nor do I write novels or books for a living. Everything I do, is pro-bono when it comes to helping other individuals. I’m a fitness professional and pharmaceutical researcher, I am not a journalist with a few cherry picked articles under my belt. Nor am I someone who obtains their information from fitness magazines promising 6 pack abs in 6 weeks.

At the end of the day, remember this… “YOU are the one who must live with the results of your efforts… and only YOU can judge the situation accurately for yourself.”

Take my advice at your own personal discretion.

First Time Advice:

Maybe they have started putting on weight. Maybe they were getting fit when you first started the relationship, and you thought that they’d continue. Perhaps they have asked you “Does this make my butt look big?” or “Do you still love me?”. Maybe they are morbidly obese right now and you have never brought it up. The following suggestions and points to consider may be able to guide you to successful first time intervention.

1) Independently take stock of the situation.
How long has this been going on? What has changed? Is this a slow creep or is it sudden? What is going on in your life and the life of your partner?

Why ask all of these things? Because, simply stating there is a problem does nothing for you. Ever been at work and heard those whiners and complainers go on and on about how unfair or unrealistic something is? But they don’t ever sit down and think about solutions or what is contributing to the problem? Irritating isn’t it?

Understanding contributing factors DOES NOT mean accepting excuses. It means that you must understand the situation to correct it.

Slow slide vs. Fast Slide:

If it’s a slow slide you’re in luck and is usually easily corrected. The average person can gain 14-15lbs over the course of a year by simply taking in 140 extra calories a day. That’s a single candy bar, a can of soda, a pack of cookies or a snack pack of Doritos chips a day.

Small changes really add up. Cutting out a single unhealthy snack can bring them back into balance. But it won’t cause them to lose the weight. Nor will simply walking 30 minutes a day. It’s more complex than that. But you should read my post on taking the weight off for advice on that. Right now we’re only going to focus on bringing it up and doing it successfully.

If it’s a fast slide, then you need to seek medical advice. Rule out hormonal and other disorders. Thyroid, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (highly prevalent in women), insulin resistance, graves disease and other endocrinological disorders are often culprits for instant weight gain. The good news is that once they are treated, your partner can make some progress. It might not be as quickly as you’d like, but with consistent effort most things can easily be controlled or taken care of. For example, people with PCOS are very often insulin resistant, but one of the medications for it is metformin or Glucophage. Both are oral diabetes drugs that assist in insulin uptake within cells. Hence, energy can be used instead of stored.

What has changed?:

Knowing what has changed in your lives regarding your health is critical to bringing it up. Are you both busy? Did you just have another baby? Did she just have a baby? Are you strapped for time? How much of what you eat is controlled by your situation? Did you start skipping breakfast? Are you eating more fast food and cooking at home less? Has exercise disappeared from your daily routine? Is your partner getting enough sleep, water, and healthy food in their diet?

All of these sound like gimme questions. But they are not. They will help you identify the situational causes for the weight gain. Simply saying, “They pig out” or “They live on the couch” isn’t going to do much to change your reality. You need to determine the underlying reasons for it.

For example, depression and stress can both lead to inactivity and overeating. Food is a coping mechanism for many individuals. Food is comfort and reassuring. People who are depressed withdraw and are unlikely to engage in physical activity, or go out into the world unless they have to.

Eating junk food is an easy fix. Not scarfing McDonald’s because it’s convenient is easy to circumvent with packing lunches. Hey it was good enough for you when you were going to school… and besides, lunch boxes are so much cooler now.

Depression! Are you serious?:

Depression is a whole other story. Obesity is a very ego deflating condition. People who are depressed are hard to get to acknowledge the problem. Stigmas are rampant about people who get treated for depression. And of course, most of the medications also lead to weight gain, with the exception of a few like Wellbutrin which is known for actually helping with weight loss. But I encourage you not to take my word for this, and discuss options with your physician.

If a person is legitimately depressed, it may be due to situational factors and stress… or it may be a chemical imbalance that needs pharmaceutical treatment. Keep in mind that many women suffer from post partum depression. If she’s had a child recently, or even within the last few years… she could be battling the chemical ravages that her pregnancy caused.

Incidentally, there is a body of evidence that indicates that in many cases… exercise is as effective as pharmaceutical intervention. This story was published on Harvard University’s Medical site, referencing a study done:

http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsweek/Exercise-and-Depression-report-excerpt.htm

I think it’s a must read for those who are trying to deal with this situation. If your partner is depressed, you need to be sensitive to their challenges and mind set. It is often one of frustration, hopelessness and insecurity. You’ll need to address the situation of an obese person as a WHOLE person… mental and emotional before you’ll see any positive gains (or loses in this case).

2) Ask yourself what YOU want to accomplish and the best way to do it.

Many people act/speak before they think. How many of us will spend hours practicing a company speech, rehearsing it in front of the mirror until our body language, tone and delivery are perfect? When you were going to ask you spouse to marry you, how often did you rehearse those lines in your head?

I’m going to guess a lot. So it’s why I think that is why it’s SO very important to think about delivery before you bring it up.

Here are my tips:

1) Go out and vent your frustrations someplace private where no body can hear you. The fact is that if you have anger, aggression or frustration in your voice… they’ll immediately go on the defensive. YOU have to be balanced and ready to have the conversation with them.

2) PREPARE. Find a quiet place and write down your key speaking points. Organize your thoughts. Make sure that the list and thoughts are not ever compromised or discovered. It’ll blow up in your face. Key talking points will keep the conversation on track.

3) Find the RIGHT TIME. Just because that moment feels right for you, and you feel you can’t hold it in anymore… doesn’t fix your situation. It sabotages you. See TIP #1 above. In confrontations, you’d be ill advised to bring the subject up at a bad time. If they are stressed or tired, in danger of losing their job, their dog died, their friends or family are sick, etc. Then that is NOT the right time! Don’t be discouraged. I’m sure many of you are saying “There is never a good time! There never will be a good time! Why wait?!”. The answer is simple. Because you should only fight battles you can win.

A case in point… The Afghanis forced the Russians to give up and leave their country. They didn’t win instantly. They never engaged the Russians in open direct battle when it was unfavorable for them. They bided their time and waited for the right opportunity. They were relentless and refused to be conquered. Their country was bombed into the stone age. But they lived free.

A more politically relevant example would be the United States. While the US was fighting for independence from the British Crown… they didn’t make unplanned attacks in a hopeless situation. They waited until they had the advantage and stuck hard.

Need an example of failure? Let’s look at the Civil War. The Confederate Army was decimated and demoralized by Pickett’s Charge. The Union soldiers were entrenched on what was known as Cemetery Hill. They were dug in and organized. General Lee was obsessed with breaking their strategic position. So he ignored the fact that it was a slaughter, said consequences be damned and sent 12,500 soldiers to charge a fortified position on higher ground over a mile away. They were slaughtered. It was a horrible mistake by not being realistic about the time and situation of the attack.

I know that many of you are saying that the military history lessons don’t apply to weight loss conversations but they do. They illustrate the importance of waiting for the right time and place to be successful.

4) Pick the right PLACE. Choose a neutral location. Choose a semi-public place, but one that essentially offers the ability to be discrete and still offers the privacy this would require. Let there be no distractions. No children, no friends, no family, no television. No place to retreat and nothing to interrupt you.

5) DO NOT LIE. If asked why you want to go to the botanical garden, the river front, etc… tell your loved one that you want to spend time with them and talk about improving your relationship with each other. If they want to have the conversation right then and there, say something along the lines of “Honey, I love you. It’s nothing major at all. I don’t want to break up, get divorced, and I’m not even thinking about negative drama here. I want to improve upon the beautiful relationship we already share and see how we can make each other happier. Listen honey, just take some time to think about the little or big things that you feel could make our relationship better and we’ll talk about them then. I love you and I’ve been giving it a lot of thought because I value what we have so much.”. I am hoping that what I suggested you say is the truth.

If you LIE and say something patently untrue, you’ve sabotaged your credibility. You are going to need that to be heard and believed.

6) SET THE GROUND WORK. Before you get into the conversation, assure your partner that there will be no punches pulled. That it is okay to table a conversation or topic to another time, but you do want to agree to both think about it and agree to a time frame to discuss it. That I don’t know is an acceptable answer, but you want to each other to help you find clarity. Assure them that not everything needs to be done or changed immediately, and that you’re sure that over the course of your lifetime together that you’ll have plenty of time to work on everything. Another great thing to say in my experience is: “A lot of relationships get in trouble because partners don’t talk about how they feel. It just boils over at some point and people realize if they’d KNOWN or were able to recognize the problems before they came up, then they’d have been able to avoid them. I love you baby, and I want us to have the best relationship we can.” Then slide into… TIP #7

7) The NO INTERRUPTION RULE. It could go into groundwork, but it’s so important it has it’s own section. Tell them you are both going to talk to each other and you won’t interrupt until they are done saying what’s on their mind.

8) The AMNESTY RULE. Assure them that anything said in the spirit of progress will NOT be held against either of you. That you don’t believe in punishing people for the truth. If you punish for the truth, you have no right to expect honesty from someone.

9) The NO SHOUTING RULE. I’ve spent years growing up in the diplomatic community (seriously) and I’ve learned a thing or two about conversational style. Louder doesn’t make you right. Anger shuts people down. If things get heated agree to take a step back take some deep breaths and then try again. Saying this up front is important because when it’s said up front, they won’t feel you are dismissing their concerns or being a condescending jerk.

10) WHEN YOU DO TALK. Open the dialog with a hug and ask… “So have you thought about things that I could do that would make you happier? Share your thoughts with me.” Be prepared because there may be a laundry list of things, from you not being romantic anymore to helping out more around the house.

You can’t dismiss their concerns. Sorry people, a relationship is a two way street. And being right about their obesity isn’t enough to make a meaningful change. It will come off as an attack, instead of an effort to improve your relationship.

By listening to each concern you show that you are open and earnest about improving things. Never use the word “BUT…” in a negotiation. WORDS MEAN THINGS. Say, “Yes, and…”.

Empathy COUNTS. So you should address the concerns and say “I hear that you telling me that you’d like me to….” And then follow up with “Is that correct?”. Then say, “I can see your point of view on this… really I can, what could I do to improve that for you?”. This doesn’t bring up any arguments at this point. You haven’t said no… or shot them down. A fact you can use later if they try to close off. When they tell you what you can do, actually consider it. If it’s unreasonable, ask them if they can help you come up with a way to implement their request.

For example:

Wife: I really would like more help around the house, you come home and go straight to the couch or computer and I’m up doing dishes and laundry until late at night.
Husband: So what I hear you telling me is that you’d like me to help more instead of going to the couch immediately. Honey, I promise I’m not being stupid here, but could you tell me some things I could do to that would really help you?
Wife: Well offer to clear the table, or pick up after the kids. If there is a full garbage can, please take it out and change the liner! Just little things! Help me with the kids so I can get dinner on the table. Some days I just feel overwhelmed!
Husband: Okay, you’re right (very important to say). I think I can definitely start contributing a bit more. Sometimes when I come home from a hard day, I just need to decompress for a bit. I hadn’t considered that you might need that time as well. Would you mind if I just took 15 minutes when I got home to unwind a bit and then get to clearing things up?
Wife: That sounds reasonable, but I just worry that 15 minutes will turn into an hour.
Husband: I understand your concern and I’ll do my best to make sure that it doesn’t. If you start to feel it does, come to me and gently remind me. I promise that I’ll try to be more responsive than in the past.
Wife: That would be nice. Do you really mean it? Or is it all just talk?
Husband: I really mean it, and I’m going to try… now what else?

Now not every conversation is going to go that easy. I understand that. Also, I understand that many people may have issues with their spouses or partners that are a bit more complex and deeper than that. Some of you may feel that you already do too much. In those cases, you should voice your concerns calmly and bring those up.

Keep in mind that you are going to drop a huge bombshell on them. So you need to build up credibility about being motivated to improve things. If you can’t offer to meet their needs, why should they care about your concerns? Sadly, it’s a two way street. For those spouses who do everything, this shouldn’t even come up.

Also, if you shoot her down on these things, the conversation is over. You’re more than likely going to have to listen intently about their concerns. After all, you expect the same from them right?

After she’s voiced two or three concerns, it’s your turn.

The next section includes your talking points and WHAT NOT TO DO.


HOW TO FRAME IT SO THAT IT’S POSITIVELY RECEIVED… or at least improve the chances.

Do’s of framing your weight loss:

Keep in mind that this is a very touchy issue for people. Women in particular are typically very sensitive about their appearance. There is a reason why the men’s grooming section is 1/10th the size of the women’s. There is also a reason why the majority of floor space in department stores is reserved for women’s shoes and clothing and make up and perfume. It’s because women all want to be beautiful and thought of as so.
Suggested Tactic:

I’ve been worried lately because my dad, mom, grandfather, other blood relative, coworker, long time friend or acquaintance… died from a heart attack (or has been ill). I’ve been really thinking about it a lot lately. And I have been trying to come to grips with that for some time. Not because they died (or are ill), but because I know it could have been prevented. They were (pick one or some) overweight, didn’t get any exercise, smoked, drank, were depressed… and I keep asking myself why they chose not to do anything about it? And then I took a hard look at us. I’m wondering if we’re falling into that same rut of complacency. I’ve been reading about the fact that positive lifestyle changes can add years to our lives together. And not just that, but add MEANINGFUL years to our lives.

I think we need to change some things about how we are living, and I’d like your help figuring out what changes we can make. I’ve got some ideas, if you’d be willing to listen: “I think we both need to change what we’re eating. The fast food is convenient, but it’s killing us slowly. I’m willing to do more around the house so that we can make time to eat healthier.” (Dietary habits are key to weight loss)

“I’d also like us to commit to getting in better shape. We both need to get out there. I’m not saying we have to join a gym or be muscle heads. But I know that if we just started walking or playing more that we’d feel better physically and emotionally.”

“I’d also like us to get rid of the junk food in the house and stop buying it. Cheetos, ice cream sandwiches and snack cakes are things I feel we eat too much of. I’m not saying that once in a while is bad, but I think we eat too much of that stuff right now. And if it’s there, I know I’ll go grab it because it’s convenient. Can we work on replacing the junk with healthier alternatives?”

Close by looking deep into their eyes lovingly, and placing you hand on the back of their neck, draw them closer to you. It helps cement communication. Say softly: “Honey, we’re a ‘we’. I depend on you so much for strength and support, and I don’t think I can make these changes without you. I need you in this with me and to be part of the solution for both of us. Can we do this together? I’ll help you and you can help me.”

Chances are, she’s not going to say no. She might have a concern that you think she’s fat or that you find her unattractive. Scuttle that concern by telling her “Look, we BOTH know that we BOTH can be healthier. I’m not expecting either of us to look like cover models for fitness magazines. I just want us to work at getting in shape, eating right and both getting to our optimum weight. I don’t want to end up 50 years old and be in a wheel chair because my knees are shot, or have a stroke where you have to take care of me all the time. I want us to have more energy and be more active. I’d like us to be able to go hiking and dancing and be fit enough to really enjoy ourselves. I don’t feel fit enough right now, and I want to change that for you.”

By doing this you accomplish a number of things.

One, notice you didn’t point out there were fat? People already know they are tubby. They have a mirror. Trust me they know. Chances are they are already beating themselves up over it. If they’re not, you’ve still done nothing to incite the “You think I’m fat and ugly” defense.

Two, by asking them to help you… you are involving them in the process. They can actually take ‘ownership’ in the idea. When people feel they have a hand and a say in things, they are more likely to respond favorably and carry through.

Three, you are asking THEM for help. Even if you don’t feel you need it… even if you are already FIT, these lifestyle changes will still HELP you. So they are credible and can’t really be attributed towards an attack on how you feel about their weight. If it comes up… emphasize… “Healthier living isn’t just for people who are overweight. Even fit people die of stress and heart attacks. This is about me wanting us to be able to be there for each other for the rest of our lives. It’s because I love you and want to be the best I can be for you. That’s why we’re talking today. Not to be silent but to SHARE our thoughts with each other… the way loving couples should.”

Also, if it has not come up… stipulate that you aren’t expecting everything to change overnight. That you know that it is impractical. But that you want to come up with little ideas that will amount to a big change that you can do right now and also later on down the road. Babysteps are key here.

When people see a big problem, the first thing they fear is dread. When you break a massive problem into little pieces, you can tackle those one at a time until the big problem is resolved.

OKAY SO NOW WHAT?

The conversation seems like the hardest part. But here is where your dialog has to include thinking about what you can do to change the situation. You need to ask what little steps you can take. Ask for their feedback and be reciprocal where possible.

Some suggestions: (DO NOT SHOOT DOWN ANY OF THEIR IDEAS FOR FITNESS IF THEY ARE REASONABLE)

I know that we BOTH eat fast food too much. I think we could cut way back on that. Maybe we could start packing our lunches and making dinners ahead of time to cut back on reaching for the 99 cent heart attacks in a sack? I’d be willing to help. Also suggest: Look for everyday we don’t eat out, lets stick the money we would have spent into a jar. And at the end of the month, we’ll use it for something special for just us.

I was talking to a friend of mine who lived in Italy. He said that after dinner lovers would go for a walk under the stars and talk about their days. It sounds romantic, and if we premade some of our dinners, we’d have time to do that! We could grab a glass of wine and go for a walk together. (If you have kids that are too young to be left alone, suggest taking them out for a walk with you). Never underestimate the power of romance. A simple 20 minute walk burns off that extra 140 calories that adds 15lbs a year.

I was thinking we could do healthy theme nights for dinner and explore some new dishes. Tell them a co-worker was talking about a light Mediterranean cook book and that you’d like to try making some of the healthy Indian and Japanese dishes you’ve heard about. Remember, you are going to help with this. Tell them the food isn’t expensive or difficult… especially ethnic foods. They are popular because they are cheap.

Also, a fitness board was talking about yoga being a good exercise. I’d like to try it with you. How do you feel about getting more flexible baby? Meow!

There is a park nearby that I was thinking we could go to. They have a circuit course with these exercise stations and a mile walk. I was thinking that it’d be fun to try that.

There’s a walk-a-thon coming up (there is ALWAYS a walk-a-thon coming up in your city) to raise money and awareness about “_________” I was hoping we could do that together. It’s family friendly and we could bring the kids.

You know, I’ve always felt bad that we’ve never really taken a dance class together. I think it’d be fun to learn to dance salsa, or do ballroom dancing. I’ve saw and episode of “dancing with the stars” and I think it could be really fun. But I’d feel stupid doing it alone. Would you come with me? (she might be insecure about this, but assure her that you’re insecure too, and you’d be sure to find a class with only beginners in it and that you’d love to go out with her dancing. People, it’s incredible cardio. An hour of dancing will blast off blubber).

I’d like to get in shape to run a mini-marathon or 5k. And I was hoping we could train for it together. I know it’ll take a while but I was thinking it could be fun and we’d get some great t-shirts.

There is an intramural softball, kickball, ultimate Frisbee, touch football league that’s about to start up. If we could make the time, would you be interested in doing that?

KEEPING IT UP!

It worked for a week and then we fell into the old rut.

Solution: Don’t let it fall into a rut. It’s just as much your fault as theirs. Be positive and enthusiastic. Even if you don’t feel like it, don’t take the low road.

Say, you know… I know we’ve been busy. But I really liked our walks, dancing lessons, the healthy food idea. Let’s get that back on track!
WHAT NOT TO DO:

Don’t pester or badger. It won’t help. If they fall of the horse, ask them how to get them back up on it. Reinforce that you can’t do it alone and you really need them on board. Ask for alternatives and solutions.

Keep up your end of the bargain. What does this mean?

It means that if they are upset about housework and you agreed to help more, then you need to do it. It means that YOU can’t slack off. It means that you need to lead by example. That means no pigging out, no hidden bags of McDonald’s under your car seat. It means TRANSPARENCY. It means that you need to keep yourself on track and GENTLY remind them if they fall off the horse.If you aren’t in it NECK DEEP. If you aren’t in the trenches with them, then you can’t expect them to follow you. The key to the success of this tactic is positioning it as something YOU BOTH DO!

How do I gently bring it up you ask? If you find out they’ve been cheating on the diet, do not yell at them. Negativity does NOT work at this stage. It only promotes depression and division. Hug them. Seriously, hug them. Look into their eyes and say… “Listen, I was looking for my wallet in the car and under the seat I found some McDonalds bags. I know you probably had a good reason for needing to stop and get something. But it just took the wind out from under me. I really need to know that you were being honest with me and that this is something you want as badly as I do.”

Remember; give them the benefit of the doubt. Don’t chastise them. Use the “I’m hurt puppy dog eyes” approach. Explain that you know it’s hard, that you struggle with it too. But you just want to know and feel they are really behind you. And that you desperately need their support in this. And further iterate… everyone has a bad day. Everyone falls off the horse once in a while. So I am not mad or upset at you. I just really want this to work so badly, and I have seen so much improvement in us both. I don’t want us to slide backwards. Can we both try a little harder? Tell you what, the next time I’m feeling like being weak, I’ll call you for support and you can do the same thing for me. We can do this together.

You need to be vigilant and present the image of someone who understands that it takes consistent effort. You have to be approachable and not someone they feel they need to hide things from. If they fear a bad reaction, they won’t come to you for support. They’ll just engage in the behavior behind your back.

DO NOT use negative statements or drop ‘hints’. People don’t pick up hints. They ignore them. Your hinting will look like nagging. You can hint at something 20 times and piss them off. OR you can be an adult, and address it openly and compassionately. Open communication is going to get you a lot farther than hinting would.

DO NOT FORGET PRAISE. Praise works wonders. It motivates people. Remember that old saying “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar?” Well there is a reason for that. It’s good wisdom. Don’t overdo or lie either. It’ll come of as insincere and then you lose credibility. Little things like, “We’ve got 30 bucks in our Jar! We’re doing so great!” and “You know what, you really were moving better today at dance class. I think you’re really getting the hang of it.” Or “At the rate we’re going we’re going to have to go shopping for new clothes soon!”

And of course, the simple “I’m so proud of you honey.” And “I’m so glad we can do this together. Thank you being there for me.”

DO NOT DEMAND WEIGH-INS or BREAK OUT A TAPE MEASURE. Right now that would be very counterproductive. The key is to get them to adopt a healthier lifestyle. The scale does not matter at this point. You know they are fat and so do they. It causes apprehension and causes anxiety. At this point, you’re not dealing with a hard case. So don’t treat it as such. Trust me, you’ll see results. They will take time, but you will see results.

DON’T buy into supplements, nutty diet plans or gimmick work outs. They’ll sabotage you because they don’t work. The only thing that works is consistent effort. If you want to make sure you’re getting everything you need invest in a good multivitamin. The fat burners don’t work. They mess with your body and your liver.

DO NOT EAT more than they do in front of them. It demoralizes them. Grab a can of tuna or some healthy snack later. You’re there to build them up and if they see you eating more than them (even if you caloric needs are higher) supplement with a protein bar, shake, an egg or a pack of tuna.

LAST THOUGHTS PLEASE BE SURE TO READ:

So you’ve brought up the topic… but she’s still got things to get off her chest and you don’t have anything else to talk about right?

WRONG! If you don’t have some other issues, then your whole talk will look like a weight loss ploy. You need OTHER topics and Good Ol’ Crash is here to give them to you.

Your other topics are going to be: (pick some or make some up that are NON-CONFRONTATIONAL) You may want to use these first to practice and learn to gauge her response before bringing up the fitness and lifestyle issue. In fact, I recommend it. You will be able to gauge the pushback and their receptiveness.

1) As you probably could guess, I’m in love with you. I’d like us to date again. Just because we’re married doesn’t mean we can’t still show we’re madly in love with each other. I was thinking we could have date nights. It’s cheesy I know… but I was thinking we could set aside time for just us to be together and go and do new things.
2) I think we’re spending too much time in the house on weekends. We live in (______) and there are so many things we could do… there are concerts, museums, plays! I feel like we’re missing out on everything life has to offer.
3) (IF APPROPRIATE) I feel like lately you’ve been depressed and I’m worried about you. I’d like to help you find some of that inner happiness that used to shine so brightly. Ask if they feel depressed and if so, how can you help. Tell them that you love them and don’t want to be shut out. If they are depressed then this is the first step to getting them help. Depression may be situational, chemical or even genetic. Either way, identifying it will help improve your relationship. If they are simply mad at you because they are unhappy with the relationship, does not mean they are depressed.
4) I’d like us to look at saving for our future. You’re never too young or old to look into that.
5) Where do you want us to be in 5 years? When she asks you the same question say “Taking surfing lessons in Hawaii!” or “I’d like us to be 5 times stronger than we are today.”


PARTING THOUGHT:

"Telling your Spouse, the Soft Way."



I don’t proclaim to have all the answers. I’ve dealt with several different personality types over the years. This may not apply to people who are in a severe situation. I’ll post another approach for those later. It takes hours to put together a post like this.

I know from experience that positive reinforcement is a very powerful tool. You get ONE shot at making a first approach. Many of the people on the board are looking for a way to bring it up for the first time. This was written to help you address that particular need.

If this approach fails, then you can read some of my more hard-line tactics. But I always recommend the soft approach first. One that focuses on the positive and helps people takes ownership of an idea.

I also recognize that this may open a can of worms. But relationships don’t happen in a vacuum. You are asking for a positive change to address YOUR NEEDS. You have to be willing to address some of theirs. Everyone can improve.

Further, I recognize that this is mostly given with a MALE TO FEMALE interaction slant. It doesn’t make it any less valid. You can use this on males as well. It should about the same.

Never forget that preparation and clarity of thought are essential. Don’t go in half cocked or thinking you can “wing it” it won’t end well.

You also have to make success possible. Banning junk food isn’t enough. You have to make healthy alternative available all the time… if they can have an apple, a protein bar or some healthy snack… then they are less likely to fail.

And lastly… you fell in love with them for a reason. If all this seems too much to go through for them… don’t do it for them. Do it for the ghost of the person you fell in love with. You should do it, to resurrect that person back from the dead and make them a lasting part of your life.

Good luck and god bless,

Brother Crash

1 comment:

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