When Your Spouse is Unsupportive

When Your Spouse
Is Unsupportive

Why can't you just support me?

"This is it, I'm really doing it this time, (insert diet here) is FINALLY the one that's going to work, I'm pumped!" So you go tell your spouse/significant other your plan and you just get a blank stare.  Or worse, eye rolling, head shaking and negative comments, or WORSE outright sabotage.  I mean you TOLD him you weren't doing carbs anymore and he brought home pizza! What a jerk! So unsupportive.

Or maybe you've embarked on something better than a diet, like the Healthy Mind, Healthy Body Program; you're making small healthy changes like taking walks, drinking more water, making more meals at home, adding some veggies, and trying new healthier recipes.  You're so excited about the healthy lifestyle you're embarking on! But every time you ask your spouse to join you on a walk they say no, or they won't eat the healthy meals you cook, or they get mad when you won't watch TV because you want to get more sleep, or they get frustrated that you'd rather eat in than go to that fast food restaurant this week.  

And then YOU get frustrated because you don't understand why they're resisting these healthy changes so much.  I mean if it's good for you, then it's good for them and THEY could stand to lose a few pounds too!  Not only do we want our spouse to support our endeavors, we want them to join us, because we love them and we want THEM to be healthier and happier too.  

When you're trying to get your spouse on board with a change you'd like to make, ANY TYPE of change, there are some key things you need to do and NOT do.  Trust me, there's a right and a wrong way to do this, and most of us, even though our intentions are good, are going about it all wrong.  Some of the advice in this episode could change EVERYTHING in your relationship.  💕 


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I bet you've been here before you decide this is it, I'm making the change. I'm sticking with it this time. This is the real deal this time to go until your spouse or significant other, your plan and they're not excited for you at all. In fact, they seem really hesitant and it even feels like they don't care or they're purposely sabotaging you. How the heck are you going to accomplish this goal? If they're not on board? How are you going to deal with this? It's August, and we're continuing our month of focusing on relationships. So today we're talking about what to do if your spouse is not on board? How are you going to still accomplish your goals? And how can you get them on board? Let's go. 

Welcome back to the no nonsense wellness podcast, the place for women who are trying to do all the things and stay healthy, sane and actually enjoy life in the process. Hey, I'm Tara, a trained therapist, a life coach, a nutrition coach and a fitness instructor. And I'm on a mission to help you take back control of your mind, health and life. Each week, I'll be cutting through the nonsense and getting real with you. I'll bring you the insight and information you need to take control of your weight and health, find food freedom, and finally break free from the thoughts that are sabotaging you and holding you back. You, my friend, are powerful, and the world needs you to start showing up in a bigger way. It's time to get unstuck and start moving forward. So let's pop in those earbuds, tie up those shoes, let's walk and talk.

Personally, I have a really supportive spouse, I'm really lucky because he actually often believes in me even when I don't. And he shows his support in lots of different ways. Sometimes it looks like making dinner or doing the dishes. When I've got a deadline or something to accomplish something I'm working on. Sometimes it looks like making some healthy food for me when I'm just really busy. And I'm not remembering to eat. Sometimes it just looks like a subtle encouragement to go work out or go to the gym. And sometimes it just looks like not complaining about the cost of a gym membership, or those new workout shoes I just bought. We've even had a date together to go by running shoes. Like that was our date. These things are true most of the time, but sometimes in different ways. It feels like he just doesn't quite get it. So what if your spouse isn't supportive? What if it feels like they just don't get it? They're not trying to help or even worse, it seems like they're actively trying to sabotage you. There's no question. And there's tons of research to back it up that it's much harder to stay consistent with literally anything not just about health and fitness and weight loss that we talked about here. But anything, it's much harder to stay consistent with anything if you don't have the support of the people closest to you in your life. So today we're talking about your spouse or significant other, that's the word I'm going to be using a lot. But this really includes anyone that you live with, and your family, your social circle, these strategies and ideas will apply to all of the significant people and relationships in your life. Okay, so it's not just limited to your spouse, we're talking about all the significant relationships in your life and how their support or lack of is going to affect you and what you can do about it. 

There's a lot of reasons why it might feel like you are not being supported by your spouse, one of the biggest that we've very often fail to recognize is that we've been here before, we've done this before. I want to encourage you and I'm going to throughout this entire podcast to see things from their perspective, there's a pretty good chance that this is not the first time that you've decided that this is it. This is the thing. I'm really doing it this time. This is probably not our first rodeo, right? We've been here before. That's the problem with diets, right? They're unsustainable. So we turn into this crazy person for a while while we're on it. We're usually miserable, and then inevitably we quit, we fail. Our spouse is likely thinking like great, it's just that again, here we go again, they don't want to go through it again. So why would they be supportive and you're going through it again? 

If we're talking about the Healthy Mind, Healthy Body program, for example, you might know that it's not another diet but your spouse does not know. Right? You have been thinking about it for a long time. You've been listening to this podcast for a long time. If you've been mulling over the idea of a completely different way to lose weight get healthy. They don't know that they're not in your brain. They don't know what you've been thinking, feeling, experiencing over these last days, weeks and months, they don't understand why for you, this time feels different. So put yourself in their shoes, they've watched you in the past, try to adhere to all these crazy restrictive diets, and they've watched the person that you turn into, when you're trying to do it. You're crazy, you're overwhelmed with all of these, eat this don't eat that rules. You're constantly harping on everyone about oh, that's bad food, oh, that's gonna make me fat. Oh, I can't have that, uh, you probably got real bossy and real preachy about why what you're doing is so much better than what they're doing, you were probably in a bad mood, most of the time, you were probably not super fun to be around, most of the time you were on that diet, and then you probably got depressed when you couldn't stick to it and ultimately failed and gained the weight back. So let's just be honest here. Can you blame your spouse for not wanting to go through that again? No. 

So what are you going to do about this, the biggest thing you need to do is really just let them in on what's going on inside your head, how you're feeling, why you're considering doing this thing, whether it's healthy mind, healthy body or something else, let them in. Let them know what you want to accomplish and why and why you think this is the way that you're going to do it, let them in on your thought process, make them part of the decision making, give them a chance for some honest input. And that's not whether you agree with them or disagree with them. That's besides the point, give them a chance to actually give some input, they may or may not support your ultimate decision, but at least they will feel like they were part of the process. And that will go a long way to gaining their support in the future. Make sense? 

Okay, the second thing that we need to consider about why our spouse might be not on board or why it might feel like they're sabotaging us is because change is really hard. Now you know this, you know, for you just in your own personal experience in life, that making a change is always really hard. You put up your own resistance, right, we call that self sabotage, you are resistant to your own change. Now imagine how someone else outside of you is going to be resistant to your change. Change is not just hard on you, it's hard on everyone around you. Definitely for the reasons I just listed about how you might have been when you were on a diet, but also because when you begin to change your patterns of behavior and change your patterns of thought, it can really shine a spotlight on others and how they have not changed. And that might not feel really good for them. 

Now how you approach this is going to be key, because what might be going on for them is that they might feel a little bit resentful, because maybe they feel like they should be doing what you're doing. But they're just not ready for that yet. And there could be a trillion valid reasons why they're not ready for that yet. But it really shines a spotlight on them of oh, man, she's doing all these things that I feel like I probably should be doing but I don't really want to do or I'm not ready to do whatever the thing is, that's going to be really hard for them to be a part of and to go through alongside you. And this is usually where that sabotaging behavior comes in. Sabotaging behavior really is just resistance, it's resistance to your change. And most sabotage behavior is not intentional. It's not like your spouse is over in the corner like

evilly rubbing their hands together and thinking about “how can I make her fail at this new endeavor?” Right? They are not doing that. It feels to you like sabotage, because you are changing and they are not. To them. It feels like they're just staying the same. They're maintaining status quo. You're the one who's changing, you're at fault. Therefore I will unintentionally and maybe unconsciously, do things that are going to make you come back to the status quo. Does that make sense? They're not some kind of evil mastermind trying to stop you on your diet. They are literally just trying to maintain status quo. Does that make sense? It feels like they're sabotaging you but they're really not. Change is scary. Change is hard. Change is scary. Our brain does not like change the status quo is very safe. Therefore, without even realizing it. Your spouse is going to try and keep you at the status quo and stop you from changing that's just literally how our brain is wired. 

So instead of getting angry and getting frustrated with someone that you feel is sabotaging you. Try to understand them. Get curious about what your change must be like for them. What does Does this change mean to them? How might it affect them? How might they think that it might affect them? Sabotage behavior, and resistance usually has something to do with underlying fears that might come up. So your spouse might be thinking things like, what if you become a different person? What if this new food that you're trying to get me to eat tastes disgusting? And I hate it? What if your new healthy habits make me confront my unhealthy habits? I'm not ready for that. What if people don't accept us? What if we both change, and then we lose friends because of it? Because we don't go to the bar every weekend, or we don't go do these things anymore? What if we lose friends? Because we change? What if you judge me or don't love me anymore? Because I don't change? What if I can't keep up with you? What if life gets uncomfortable? And the worst? What if I lose you? What if you change, and I don't, and you leave me, that is a genuine fear. However, rational or not, it is a legitimate fear that your spouse might be having all of those are. So we really need to understand what this is like for them what's going on in their thoughts and emotions? How are these changes possibly going to affect the relationship? You need to really start asking yourself these tough questions? Are they correct about any of those fears? Maybe you're maybe not. But you need to understand, am I doing anything that might stoke that fear? Am I saying or doing something that might lead them to have that fear that if they don't change, I will leave them? Like, really get honest with yourself about how you're acting in this relationship that might be feeding into some of those fears. Now, you may not be doing anything, it may just be fears that they have on their own that are not caused, or triggered by anything that you're doing, you're saying, maybe they are, you got to put yourself in their shoes, what is what is their experience of your changes. 

Overcoming this is going to look a lot like persistence, and not pushing us. Persistence is going to be things like offering healthy meals, offering to take a walk together offering just small, easy opportunities for them to join you in your new lifestyle. So not expecting and pushings a major overhaul for your spouse, like what you're trying to do, which, again, not what I would advise you to do. But what you're going to do is just keep offering them small little opportunities to take part in this with you, you're going to be really open to questions that they have about what you're doing and why you're doing it. And you're gonna be open to anything that they say any excuse that they give about why they're not ready to join you. Their excuses to them are valid, right? If they say they're not ready to join you in eating like this, or exercising like this, because of this, this and that reason. Those are legitimate reasons to them, and you need to be able to just hear them, just hear them and not judge not try to change their mind. Just hear them. Does that make sense? No judging, just compassion, you're gonna want to get really curious. Persistence means being curious. Are you interested in their perspectives? Are you able to deal with other people's viewpoints? Are you able to deal with the idea that they don't agree with you? Or that they don't want to do this with you? Are you open minded to hearing where they're coming from? Are you empathetic and compassionate to their viewpoints? Are you a really good listener, again, not trying to be pushy and change their mind, but just listen and hear a persistent person is also going to expect resistance, but you're going to remove all the drama from the resistance, okay? You they're going to put up resistance, they're going to do what feels like sabotage, you're not going to react, you're going to remove the drama from that end, you're not going to blame and shame them. Instead, you're going to try to have some understanding about where they're coming coming from. So for example, you decide you're going to quit drinking, but your spouse is completely stressed out from work all the time. And they think a drink after work is a perfectly acceptable way to wind down and they have no intention of stopping that behavior. What you need to do as a persistent person is just try to understand them try to understand what they're going through understand what that stress is like instead of preaching at them about you should not do this and alcohol is bad for you and blah, blah, and that's not going to get you anywhere. Instead you just need to have an understanding of why do they think this Where's this coming from? Why might they feel like this? That's then when you can do something with it. 

Now pushy, on the other hand, is when you get preachy and judgy. Because you're doing it right and they're doing it wrong. You're either with me or you're against me, pushy, sounds like judgmental, insistent, preachy, self righteous, dismissive of their ideas and points of view. Maybe you're really over enthusiastic, maybe even a bit, dare I say culty if you've joined the cult of hole 30, or CrossFit or whatever, not saying necessarily, they're inherently bad, but you could say some followers of some of these plans are a little bit culty. Because we're really, really excited about it, we think this is the thing that's finally going to do it, right. But when we get really, really excited about something, it's real easy for us to get really preachy. So we got to keep ourselves in check. And I am totally guilty of this, right? Like, when I get really passionate about something, I also get really preachy about that something. And it's just for me, personally, something that I've always tried to be aware of and work on, because it is definitely a tendency that I have, maybe that's why I started a podcast. But we all have a tendency to do that we get really excited about something and then we get really pushy and preachy about it. So just keep yourself in check a little bit, because you're not going to attract any bees without vinegar, you're going to want to attract the bees with the honey, as they say. 

Okay, the next thing that I want you to think about in trying to get your spouse on board with whatever the changes that you're making is, what if they're right? What if their right to not support you in this? Now, I know this is going to be really hard for you to wrap your head around for a second. But we tend to really, when we decide to do something, we decide to make a big change, we really get into that mode of you're either with me or against me, you're either helping me or you're hurting me. And there is no gray area for us in so many of these cases. But the gray area is where your spouse is at what if your spouse is both? What if because your spouse is with you. They're against this plan that you're currently trying to do. That makes sense? Like, what if, because they love you, they are trying to stop you from this. That is not sabotage, my friend that is love. That is protection. Now you need to see it that way. Because that's the way that they are intending it. Maybe it doesn't maybe they come across as gruff, or short, or not really entertaining your ideas or you feel like they're not listening. But what if what they think they're doing is protection and love. What if? What if they really believe that they're protecting you from something that will be bad for you? And what if they're right? What if this is not a good decision for you? Sometimes we get so caught up in our emotions that we lose sight of the logic and the reality of a situation. 

Just consider in your own past, a time that you have felt so fed up so fed up with your health or your weight, or, or your job, or whatever it is that you decide to do something drastic, like the cabbage soup diet, or a juice cleanse, or some other random crazy thing that you've probably done. Sometimes, especially when it comes to our bodies, our emotions, outrun our logic, Is it logical to go on a cabbage soup diet to lose weight? No, that's a terrible idea for so many reasons. But do we do it? Yeah, because our emotions ran away with us. We saw the before and after pictures, we read the testimonials. We got really passionate that this is the thing. Now logically, it's a terrible idea. Emotionally, it was a great idea. So what if your spouse is actually trying to protect you? From a terrible idea? Are we really surprised that our spouse is not on board with the cabbage soup diet? Like, why is that shocking to us? Why would we be shocked that our husband would be like, no, no, we're not doing the cabbage soup guy. That's terrible. That's stupid. I'm not doing it. Right. Why are we surprised by that? They're right. When I have felt at different times that my husband was not being supportive. I knew that it was because either he didn't understand what I was getting at. He didn't understand what what I was thinking or what I saw. And I needed to be better at explaining it. Or he was trying to protect me. Usually he's trying to protect me from some sort of painful failure experience that he doesn't want me to go through. And he doesn't want to be a part of me going through. It's usually not very pretty when I have those kinds of experiences. So what I needed to be in those moments was, I need to be better at sharing my own heart with him and sharing my thoughts of sharing my why. And I needed to be better at showing him that if I failed, I could handle it. Here's how I would handle failure since I knew that that's what he was trying to protect me from. I needed to express. I understand that that's a possibility. And here's how I'm going to handle it. I'm not going to get depressed and stay in bed for a week and leave you to do everything that's not going to be like that. Here's how I'm going to handle it right. He needs to know those things. He needs to know that I wasn't going to fall apart and he would have to pick up the pieces If he feels confident that he's going to be more on board with whatever it is I'm trying to do. Does that make sense. So whatever you think it is they're trying to protect you from, maybe you need to have a conversation about that. Or maybe it's just that they don't understand where you're coming from, and why you want to do this and what you want to get out of it. 

Now, I don't know about you guys, but my husband is very practical, very logical, very A plus B equals C, like very analytical. So he is really good about challenging me to not just use my emotional brain, but really to engage my more logical decision making No, I don't always want to hear that. I don't want to be challenged, I don't always appreciate that in the moment that he's challenging my emotional decision making. But I do not choose to see those challenges to my logic as sabotage, I choose to see them as love as caring as protection, and him wanting the best for me. And normally, what happens is that he does engage my logical brain, he makes me think about things from a different perspective. And sometimes I realized my initial idea was terrible. And sometimes I realize my initial idea was great, but I just didn't have enough facts behind it. Or I didn't have enough reasons behind it, or I've done the right research, right, I needed more information myself, instead of just the emotional things I was basing it on. Makes sense. So his challenge is usually for me end up always helping, even though in the moment, I could see it as sabotage. but I choose not to, yeah, you following. 

We're so quick to assign a negative motive to somebody else, like our spouse, like assuming that they are trying to sabotage us. But what if we intentionally chose to assign the motives of love and protection to what they're doing and saying, I guarantee your perspective will totally shift, and likely your entire relationship would totally shift. And all you're doing is deciding that what they're trying to say and get and have a conversation with you about is from love and protection, not from sabotage and resistance, all you did was change your mind and it changed everything. That's something that is not easy to do. In the moment, I realized it takes practice, but I want you to start practicing it. Because what if your spouse really is just trying to protect you from something they think isn't going to be good? Like, what if that's it, and you totally miss that and you call them evil, and you call them sabotage or sneak get mad at him, right? That's not fair to them. 

The last piece here in how to deal with a spouse that's not on board, is sometimes you just have to learn how to do you, sometimes no matter what you do, they're just not ready. They're just not ready to be supportive, they're not ready to join in, at least not right off the bat, they might just need some time to warm up to your new changes to get a good feel for how it's going to affect you and affect them, and affect your relationship and really just to just trust this whole thing. So maybe they're turning their nose up at your healthy dinner, maybe they complain about the time that you're spending at the gym, maybe you've tried to involve them in lots of different ways and get them on board with little things, but they're just not ready yet. They are not there have a little compassion here. Even if they're not ready yet, doesn't mean they'll never be. And it also doesn't mean that you have to stall your progress. You're not in charge of them. You're only in charge of you. You can't control anything that they do say think feel act, you have no control over that you only have control over you. So you have to respect that it might take time for your spouse to connect with their own reasons to want to make a change. Right. Here's the question. Those of you who have joined the Healthy Mind Healthy Body program, how many podcasts Did you listen to before you decided that was a good idea?

How many times did you look at the website and the page talking about the program before you decided it was a good idea? How many conversations did you have with me personally, before you decided it was a good idea to join that program, you went through an entire process that could have taken days, weeks or months, your spouse also is going to want to go through a similar process and it might take them days, weeks or months. So have some patience, and have some respect for wherever they're at on their journey. But in the meantime, you can hone your skill of being able to focus on you. Why do you want to make this change what is driving you deep inside without ignoring them without ignoring your spouse or your loved ones? You can focus on your own personal growth and development. Whether they're on board or not. It's good to have them you don't need them. You can keep moving forward without them holding your hand or are propping you up, you are capable of that. And consider this by working really hard towards achieving a happier, healthier, more confident, capable version of you, you become the inspiration, you become the positive influence over your spouse, your family or friends. Influence goes both ways. It's not just about how you are being influenced by your spouse or your family or friends or loved ones. It's about how you could be influencing them. 

So the key really is, if you've exhausted all options, if you've tried all the things, you are persistent, and you are caring, and you are compassionate, and you are non judgmental, and you are assuming the best motives, and you've tried all these things that we're talking about, and still nothing is working. So what keep moving forward, it does not matter, literally what anyone else thinks or feels or does. If this is the right path for you, then you must persist on that path. keep growing, keep changing, keep failing, keep moving forward. Because ultimately, it's on your shoulders. Ultimately, any positive change that you want to make in your life is up to you. You're the one taking the steps, you're the one putting the fork to your mouth, you're the one drinking the water, you're the one doing these things, not your spouse. So of course, it's easier if they are on board. But if they see you growing and changing and not moving away from them in the process, they'll come on board, they'll join you, they just need to see that this change is going to be good for you and for them and for your relationship. And if you can keep showing them that as you're changing, they will join you eventually they will get on board eventually. Because You my friend are powerful in the world needs you to start showing up bigger until we talk again my friends, Be well. 

Friends, thanks so much for being here. If you found value in today's episode, will you do me a favor and head over to iTunes? Find the no nonsense wellness podcast and subscribe and leave me a review. It would mean the world to me and help other people find the show. And I'd love to connect with you more. So find me on Instagram. I'm @tarafaulmann. Take a screenshot of this episode and share it in your stories and tag me. I'll see you over there.
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