Monday, November 17, 2008

Killing Your Spouse (or How to Save Your Partner’s Life)

USDA Food PyramidImage via Wikipedia · If your partner is obese, you are more likely to be obese.

· If your partner does not quit smoking, then you are less likely to be successful in quitting.

· If your partner has heart disease, then you are more at risk for heart disease.

So if you want to kill your spouse, the best route short of prison, appears to be to take on an unhealthy lifestyle. Your unhealthy lifestyle is likely to encourage the same lifestyle for your spouse, increasing his or her chance for a premature death.

On the other hand, your lifestyle choices can not only benefit you but also your mate. By making changes in your health habits, you can extend your life and that of your spouse. What is the best way to make sure that your partner joins you in healthy change?

Discuss the Health Benefits You are Striving For

Research has shown that focusing on positive outcomes with clear health benefits can motivate change. Tell your partner what you wish to accomplish. Avoid pushing you partner to adopt the same goals. If he or she is not prepared to adopt these goals, then such a push is unlikely to be successful.

Discuss Potential Stumbling Blocks and Enlist Your Partner’s Help

It is beneficial to anticipate obstacles to change. This is not negative thinking, because you are also considering ways to avoid or overcome such obstacles. By enlisting your partner’s cooperation in this effort, you will motivate your partner to consider the effort necessary for change. Indirect suggestion that change is possible is more powerful that full frontal assault on your partner’s resistance to change.

Encourage Your Partner to Verbalize Objections to Change

When your partner suggests that attempts to change are likely to be fruitless, it is tempting to argue that change is possible. Instead, listen to your partner and show acceptance for his or her viewpoint. Clarify your mate’s views and the reasoning underlying these views. Accepting his or her views as legitimate will not encourage your partner’s negative thinking, it will actually soften such thinking. Arguing for your view will create polarization, a hardening of one’s position.

Ultimately, the most powerful force for change will be your success in change. If you stop smoking, then your behavior will demonstrate that stopping smoking is possible. Regular exercise will yield results that will demonstrate the benefits rather than simply talking about them.

Your effort to improve your behavior will not necessarily result in your partner’s change, but you can rest assured that you have done your best to be a positive influence on your partner’s health.

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