Want More Encouragement from Your Husband?
Today, as I ate my salad for lunch, a couple was seated in the booth in front of me. Both were carrying way too many pounds, enough to make it difficult to walk.
The restaurant was the sort where every meal comes with enough calories for a family of four. Most of the food there is fried, covered with cheese, and accompanied by fries or a free dessert.
She ordered a salad. She was apparently dieting and ramping up her exercise levels for health reasons, and she wanted his encouragement and support. He was nearly silent, except for a few one-word answers. She kept trying. She tried through his cheese-topped chili, through his butter-grilled meat and cheese sandwich, through his mound of french fries, right through his free dessert.
Her timing was awful. I hope she did not leave the restaurant believing her husband does not care about her efforts to improve her health. More importantly, I hope she wanted the kudos she was asking for, not a change in his behavior. Her timing was bad for kudos and dreadful for a change.
Today's tip is this: if you want encouragement or a change in your husband's behavior that will make you happier, seek it when you can tap into his strengths, not when it will diminish his pleasure.
Her request for support in her self-moderation came across as criticism of his enjoyment of the meal. He could not share his enjoyment with her. She could not get the kudos she wanted, and she certainly could not convince him to join her in her health quest right in the middle of the meal he had chosen.
Does he do yardwork, swim, or play volleyball? She could look for feedback on her eating and exercising changes when he's fresh from doing something physical or when he's chosen grilled fish from a better menu.
Did she want to ask him to lose weight, too? She should just ask, directly. And do it while he's more inclined to find it a good idea he can commit to, like while he's changing out of a tight suit into something more comfortable or while they are planning a future event together, not while they are eating in calorie city.
Real encouragement makes a marriage stronger. Criticism makes it weaker. You will get better results if you seek encouragement when it will make both of you feel like better people.