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How to Get My Husband to Be Healthier

If you read one article about how to motivate him, read this one.

Control and intimacy are opposites. You can’t have intimacy when you’re trying to control the person you’re with, and if you want to be in control, the intimacy will vanish.

It’s one or the other. Like light and dark.

And everybody knows you can’t control other people, anyway—not your kids, not your spouse, not anyone but yourself.

But that doesn’t stop us mere mortals from trying. Sometimes we don’t even know we’re trying to control. We think we’re just being caring, and trying to help.

Husbands are too smart to fall for that, though. They know we’re trying to control them when we “remind” them to put on their sunscreen, drink more water, take their medicine or eat a veggie now and then.

They resist that kind of thing with all their might. That’s just human nature.

So that’s never going to help your husband be healthier.

But that’s not to say you have no influence. As a wife, you have plenty.

Here’s what you can do to help your husband be healthier and live longer:

1. Resign as His Nurse/Nutritionist/Personal Trainer

Even if you are a nurse, nutritionist or personal trainer by profession, consider resigning from that position when it comes to your husband.

I know your motives are good, because I had the same ones.

Maybe you’re just more health-conscious and you want your husband to thrive and live a long time.

And maybe lose a few pounds.

And get his blood pressure down and exercise a little more.

Everyone knows that’s how you get healthy. And that’s what you want for him: good health.

You’re vigilant about his health because you love him and you want him around for the kids.

Who doesn’t want that for their husband? We all do.

The problem is that, in nudging him to take his medicine or have something more nutritious than a candy bar for lunch, you’re not saying, “I love you and I want you around forever.”

You’re saying just the opposite, surprisingly.

What he hears is, “You’re not competent and capable enough to manage your own health, so I’m taking over.”

You’re affirming a negative Spouse Fulfilling Prophecy.

To a man, that’s the opposite of love. It’s the equivalent of him saying to you, “I’m not in love with you anymore.”

And that’s painful to hear.

One common response to hearing painful words from loved ones is to become numb—to drink, or eat, or somehow escape the situation. Emotional pain is not good for anyone’s health.

In other words, trying to manage his health is doing the opposite of what you want to do, in terms of pushing him toward unhealthy behaviors.

It also creates wall-to-wall hostility and Needless Emotional Turmoil (NET).

At least, it did at my house.

2. The Solution is Surrender

By that, I mean I stopped trying to change him, and focused on my own happiness, which in turn improved the intimacy, and, get this—

It also improved his health.

I left his health in his capable, competent hands and the guy lost 50 pounds and runs long distance every week now.

Just because I stopped talking about it and started trusting him.

You can do the same thing.

If your man feels like you respect him, he’s going to feel much more loved, and that’s going to make him want to live a lot longer.

I’m gonna repeat that because it’s so important.

Your husband will want to live longer if he knows the woman who knows him best in the world thinks he’s capable and competent to take care of himself. And therefore, he’ll take better care of himself.

He’ll be more motivated to wear his sunscreen and his helmet, eat kale and broccoli, take his medicine, go to the doctor, or do whatever is needed to stay strong and healthy.

Granted, he might have a different opinion about what is healthy than you do. You might know the essential oils that would help his allergies, while he just pops the pharmaceutical product.

That’s okay.

He’s actually the expert on his own life and body, just like you’re the expert on your own life and body.

3. But How Can You Stop Being Vigilant When He Could Die?

“What if it’s a matter of life and death?” you might wonder. Maybe he’s already had skin cancer, or a heart attack, or surgery.

All the more reason to leave his health in the hands of an expert: him.

There’s so much at stake. And you want him to live. Consider creating a Spouse Fulfilling Prophecy that serves what you want instead of what you don’t want.

Maybe you’ll say something like, “You take such good care of yourself,” or, “You’re such a strong man.”

As a fringe benefit, when you stop reminding him and prompting him (which he experiences as nagging), the passion and connection in your relationship returns.

Plus, you have one less thing to manage. Couldn’t you use the extra free time?

And if you use that free time to make yourself happy, he’ll want to go on living with you forever.

And he’ll do whatever it takes to see that he does.

By Laura Doyle

Hi! I'm Laura.

New York Times Bestselling Author

I was the perfect wife--until I actually got married. When I tried to tell my husband how to be more romantic, more ambitious, and tidier, he avoided me. I dragged him to marriage counseling and nearly divorced him. I then started talking to women who had what I wanted in their marriages and that’s when I got my miracle. The man who wooed me returned.

I wrote a few books about what I learned and accidentally started a worldwide movement of women who practice The Six Intimacy Skills™ that lead to having amazing, vibrant relationships. The thing I’m most proud of is my playful, passionate relationship with my hilarious husband John–who has been dressing himself since before I was born.

26 replies on “How to Get My Husband to Be Healthier”

This is great advice Laura. So what if he wants help from you. You shouldn’t say anything at all? What about a mutual decision about eaating healthier togethe? For example, let’s start trying to eat Paleo for a while etc. P.s. I am a nutritionist lol.

Also, could you write a blo about personal hygiene too? I do have problems about it but brushing teeth at night is my primary nightmare. Thank you so much!

I’m really working on this, even though it’s hard. My husband is 10 years older than me and has a handful of health issues. I’m slowly learning, however, that shaming/nudging/controlling my husband toward better health only adds stress to him and our home. And we all know that stress affects our health in significant ways. So I really remind myself of that — that I don’t want to add to my husband’s stress levels, I want to alleviate them! As you said, if I’m nagging him all the time, I’m probably contributing to higher blood pressure, binging, etc., which is the opposite of what I want to do…nor do I want to feel that guilt. Recently my husband sought out a health coach, so when he chooses to share with me, I try to use positive reinforcement, without going overboard.

I’m pretty certain you wrote this for me. We’d had a pretty great marriage for 10 years with really no issues other than minor things like dirty underwear on the ground. Then the diagnosis came. And it all fell apart. That was 4 years ago and I’m just now realizing how my reaction to the diagnosis was way, way more detrimental to our marriage than the diagnosis. And my fear of losing him and trying to control the prognosis only made everything, including his illness, worse. How I wish I could go back and change that.

Thanks, Laura! I so appreciate your advice. Yes, I am guilty..been there, done that. When I knew the “other woman” was doing it also, I felt I had to do it even he would think I care even more than she does. Now I look back and see how silly and wrong that was in so many ways. What was I thinking?! =( Now, I will let him decide who he wants…a woman who controls, or one who respects him enough to make his own decisions…and stays on her side of the street…

Thank you so much for this! I have been struggling so long with my husband never eating veggies and always eating all carbs or junk food. He has a habit of late night snacking and never chooses a balanced meal. He has fatty liver and has been struggling with dieting. I “know” I have all the answers to help him because I study about proper nutrition and clean eating. I keep telling him to stop relying on these protein shakes for food and to make sure to eat real food, but he doesn’t seem to get it. Now I will try this approach and see what changes!

“I “know” I have all the answers to help him”… I just love this line… it applies to almost every area of life…. I manage to stop myself much of the time now…
The thing I’m struggling with right now is – so does he! I feel completely “bossed around”. He “knows” the right way – for everything! And there just is no other way! I can escape this to some extent – but my kids can’t. We all feel bullied. And there is no self-reflection on his side…. The level of anger if we do something that doesn’t line up with the way he thinks it should be done is unbelievable – and he continues to bring it up for months (even years…) – with continued put-downs, labels, resentment…you name it. No foul language or violence. Just mean and self-centred.

Barb, Sounds painful for sure! I wouldn’t like that either. You can teach him how to treat you better though, and The 6 Intimacy Skills will make a big difference in you feeling a sense of emotional safety at home. Consider applying for a complimentary discovery call to determine the best next move for your relationship. You can do that here:

reading this is like a mirror to my marriage too. what have you been doing since this discovery?

Laura…its amazing…you know always my questions before i ask.
My dear husband needs surgery but he needs lose weight lot pounds…He wants motivation not now i understand the point.yes you are right. Motivación him with good reasons its the best.surrendered its the key.i am very happy to find you your books blogs everything when i really need it.thanks laura. My goal is help another woman to be surrendered .
Thanks for the webinar of the other day.
I would like all your blogs in a will be fantastic.and when i can in economic way i will do your course of intimacy skills.

Thanks for all that you share with us.many women needs to see things in proper perspectiva.
Thank you very much.

Hi Laura,
You had 3 deal breakers in your book. One was addiction. Would you consider a man who smoked marijuana on occasion as a deal breaking addiction?

Mary, What a great question. I wish I had a black-and-white answer for you, but I don’t. For me, if I was in a relationship with someone who used pot occasionally, I would consider applying the 6 Intimacy Skills to the best of my ability to make sure my side of the street was clean and see what unfolded from there. The journey has been unspeakably valuable for me, so I would want the opportunity for the self-improvement that is on the other side of the breakdowns in the relationship anyway.

As usual, Laura is so spot on. I was so needing this article. My boyfriend is diabetic and he does not keep track of his blood counts and he eats way too much sugar…especially soda.

I remembered a story from one of Laura’s phone in programs with Gladys. Gladys’ sister was about to get married and her in-laws were encouraging her to tell her fiance not to drink too much. Her sister brilliantly answered something to the effect of, “I trust him, I trust him to make his own decisions, that’s why I’m marrying him?

When I saw my boyfriend drinking so much soda, and learned that he was diabetic, I heard that story over and over in my head. I was very tempted to tell him not to drink so much soda. And, I then, heard Laura’s voice saying that he’s a grown man and men don’t feel romantically attracted to their “mothers.” Also, she said that it is disrespectful to tell a man what to do, which is just trying to control him.

I am so thankful for 6 wonderful intimacy principles.

They work wonders when we work them.

Thanks Laura, again for all you do and how you help us to stay focused on being surrendered women which equals happy, adored, treasured, and truly fulfilled women!

this is beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing this! I’m a newlywed, but sadly have already fallen in the destructive habit of trying to control him… here’s to my surrender! 🙂

What do i do when my husband doubles the dose of his anti depressant without talking to his doctor? He started a new one a month ago and doublef the dose. Now he filled a new script and i saw that he doubled the previous double dose. So in a little over a month he quadrupled his anti depressant. He didnt tell me of his last doubling that he did. It is affecting his sex drive. I was furious this morning but thankfully i thought of this blog post. Do i say anything about it to him? Or do i let it go and just prepare myself for sexless life?!? He also acts funny and is really tired after work whereas before he was totally fine with the samr amount of work.
Our sex life was really good before he switched the med. I know what he is doing is on his paper. It is also affecting me and it hurts so much. Im considering starting birth control pills just so it kills off some of my sex drive.
What do i do?!? I was almost in tears this morning when i found out about him doing this.

I want to add that i have been practicing the skills and have been seeing improvements. I dont know why he feels the need to increase his meds like that except that he does go tjrough lots of stress at work, and that caused him to go through deep spiralS of self doubt.
I feel betrayed. He knows how much i desire him and we havetalked about the effects of the anti depressant on his sex drive. I feel lost and sad.

NB, Sorry to hear about the shortage of physical intimacy in your marriage. That’s very distressing. I had that problem too, but the answer was never in telling my husband what he should do differently. The answer was focusing on me and my choices, my happiness. Keep in mind that he’s not trying to hurt you, he’s trying to take care of himself the way he thinks is best. The more you respect that, the faster your physical intimacy will return.

Thank you Laura. I havent thought of this from that perspective. It makes perfect sense. Thank you again! Your blog is invaluable to me. I look forward to Thursdays every week!

Thank you Laura, great article. My fiance is pregnant and overweight. I don’t mind her being overweight, but I am worried about her high blood pressure and the possibility of gestational diabetes. She takes a beta blocker for the hbp, which I am stressing over because what she takes, the fetus takes. I get upset when she wants a bowl of ice cream right after a heavy meal.
All this can be reversed by eating right. I want her to be healthy, and not go down the downward spiral that her siblings have gone down, which is nothing less than morbid obesity.
It is ripping my sanity to shreds, Laura. But I will try your advice, nonetheless. Thank you.

I see the wisdom here, but have to ask this – does that mean I need to shop/cook separately? Because he doesn’t work, so he typically cooks dinner. I have been cooking a bit more recently when I get home from work because I want healthier meals. I thought that by “leading by example” he might follow along but that hasn’t happened.

I also have to note that he doesn’t necessarily “know what’s best for him”. He never asks any follow-up questions to advocate for himself or his health when he sees a doctor and feels they should just tell him every possible fact about whatever the situation is.

Sienna, seeing your husband’s approach to health sounds scary. I love that you want to inspire him to be healthier. Sounds like that hasn’t happened even when you tried to lead by example. That must be so frustrating!

I remember how discouraging it was when my husband wasn’t following suit either. Turns out, I needed more support before he stepped up. I hear you wanting support with this too. Here’s a free Roadmap to get you started so you can inspire him to be his best self!

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