By Emma Stessman
In any relationship, we want what’s best for our partners—and that likely includes wanting them to be the healthiest version of themselves.
So, if your significant other prefers a regular Netflix-and-cheeseburger sesh over your beloved yoga-and-green smoothie routine, you might be looking for ways to encourage a few healthier habits.
But it can be a very hard conversation to handle. How do you bring up the subject without sounding preachy and pushy? How do you convince him or her that healthy habits can be legit enjoyable?
We tapped relationship expert Wendy Newman to get quality advice on how to help your partner live healthier without sacrificing the health of your relationship.
How to Get Your Partner on Board With Your Healthy Habits
Explain Why It Matters to You
Newman says the best way to initiate the “how to be healthier” conversation is to lead with something like, “This is something that’s really important to me.” From there, you can explain why your healthy habits—whether it’s eating the right foods or exercising daily—mean a lot to you and why you hope he or she will try them with you. “That particular phrase, ‘what’s important to me’ will have them alert, and it will have them register that there’s something that they can provide,” Newman says.
While it might be tempting to read your partner a laundry list of what he or she is doing wrong, Newman says pointing out flaws won’t do any good. If your well-intentioned suggestions feel like an attack, they won’t be effective. Instead, when you’re offering solutions, make sure you’re doing it in a way that’s encouraging and supportive. “You want to approach it like, ‘We have to clean the garage’, rather than saying, ‘The garage is a complete mess,’” Newman says.
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If you try introducing healthy habits in sneaky ways, your girlfriend will feel like she is being forced into it, Newman says. (Guess that one only works with kids!) “You’re going to be so much better off if you’re direct about it,” she explains. “[For example], you can say, ‘I’ve been noticing that we’ve been slacking on our health and it’s important to me. Would you be opposed to me making dinner three times a week, and that will help us balance out a more healthy lifestyle?’” That way, she’s prepared for a healthy meal, instead of being surprised when pizza night is suddenly replaced by homemade zoodles.
Health-ify Your Dates
Newman suggests making your favorite healthy activities into something you can do together. Forgo the movie theater for a hike, or turn your regular restaurant date night into an opportunity to check out that new trendy vegan place.
When planning healthy dates, find activities that your partner actually wants to engage in. “People don’t change for other people, they change for themselves,” Newman explains. If they’re doing something they actually like, it’ll be more likely to turn into a healthy habit and not just a one-time occasion. So, instead of simply dragging your boyfriend along to your favorite workout class or pulling him down the supplement aisle of Whole Foods, get his input and ask what healthy activities he’d be open to trying. “Let them have the buy-in, let them say how they want to do it and if they want your suggestion for what to do, they will ask,” Newman says.
Keep in mind, not everyone is as uber health conscious as you, and despite your best wishes, your hubby may not have any interest in being so. Your desire for your partner to live a healthier life might come from a place of love, but if he’s just not interested, it’s not something to ruin the relationship over. “They’re going to choose to be themselves, not necessarily who you want them to be…so you gotta say, okay, well I’m doing my thing, and I’m going to get to enjoy this person in my life.”