How can I encourage my husband to make healthier lifestyle choices?
We’ve been married for four years, together for six, with two young children.
My husband eats a lot of junk food and sugary foods, smokes, doesn’t go to a dentist or doctor to improve his health. I don’t want my boys to grow up to be smokers.
He always has a sore back or legs because of work. He sleeps very poorly, or sleeps excessively during the day.
I’ve asked him several times if he needs support to improve his health.
He frequently feels unwell, so much of the taking care of kids falls to me.
My children might see him only one hour per day because he feels so poorly. Or he’ll sleep the whole day away. He doesn’t acknowledge that I’m left with so much work to do.
Since he loves us he should do all that he can to improve his health, so he can spend more time with us and be more active.
When he feels yucky he’ll spend hours watching tv while I’m running around feeding the boys, playing outside with them, getting them ready for bed, etc.
I feel like he won’t seek help until something severe happens like a heart attack. What can I do to help him?
He’s ignoring his health despite having pain and fatigue, and you’re suffering stress and overwork in response.
He’s foolishly chosen to ignore all the known facts about how excessive junk food, sugar and smoking ultimately harm physical and dental health.
But you have no choice, regarding being left on your own to carry the load of home and child care.
You can’t force him to change, but you can sure tell him what you won’t accept anymore.
However, before looking at that response, look at another possibility you may not have considered:
Does your husband have reasons to be depressed? Sleeping all day fairly often, is unusual, especially in a man who’s still young. Or has this always been his habit?
Was he raised on junk food, always avoided dental and health care, and grew up with smokers? If so, his attitudes are pretty set.
Also, stopping smoking takes a determination that his current low energies can’t face or handle. His immediate need is to find out why his body is so sore and fatigued.
Try this: List all his symptoms and ask your own doctor to recommend what s/he thinks you can do or say to your husband.
Also, include the information whether something changed him more recently - e.g. anxiety over Covid, his job, finances, whatever?
If the bottom line is: This is just him, stubborn and uninterested in any change... then stop beating your head against the brick wall of his indifference.
Find a solution for yourself and the kids.
Consider getting some help with child care from a grandparent or other source that’s affordable and safe if the children aren’t yet in school.
Or maybe get some paid help with the house, or ignore some of the chores and make simple meals that don’t require a lot of preparation.
Meanwhile, don’t keep arguing with him about his poor habits. Just be direct: A father who only sees his children one hour in a day because he needs to sleep instead, is unhealthy.
He won’t be around for their later years either, if he keeps ignoring whatever’s causing his pain and fatigue. Sad choice.
FEEDBACK Regarding the man who took an invitation to make a return visit with his wife to a friend’s cottage, to mean that he could also bring along his friend (Sept. 10):
Reader #1 – “As a 40-years-plus cottage owner, if this partner brings a third uninvited guest along, it’ll be a guarantee that the couple never get invited back, especially under the circumstances (a health-compromised mother staying there with the cottage-owner).
“It is a thoughtless and selfish move on this man’s part.”
Reader #2 – “As a cottage-owner with limited refrigerator space, I’d tell people NOT to bring a meal but instead ask the host what’s needed and offer to bring it.
“Otherwise, something coming that needs refrigeration can pose a real problem which is far from what any guest would want.
“A small gift like pretty napkins or hand towels for a bathroom are well appreciated instead.”
Tip of the day:
When a partner’s poor health habits affect the whole family, be the better model for your children while you encourage self-care.