How to Talk to Your Partner About His HealthJuly 7, 2016
June 13-19 is National Men’s Health Week. This may not be the most anticipated event of summer, but for the man in your life, it could be a pivotal one. If you’ve been wanting to talk to your significant other about his health or if you’ve never given his health much thought, this is the perfect springboard for conversations about well-being.
Men and women have different health risks, and individual histories create even more specified health profiles. But learning about both of your risks, making a plan of action, and sticking to that plan is something best tackled together.
Not only will you each benefit from better health through accountability, but your relationship is also likely to improve. Physical activity can boost your sex drive and make you better at managing stress — individually and in your relationship. And sharing new experiences can be a breath of fresh air in a long relationship. Watching a movie together is great, but it can’t offer the bonding experience of a long bike ride or finishing a 5K together.
Broaching the Subject
Health can be a touchy subject, and there are right and wrong ways to bring it up. This is not an opportunity to nag your boyfriend or husband about his beer belly. Be humble, and emphasize your desire to improve your health as well as his. Remember that you should be partners in this endeavor, not a trainer and trainee.
It’s important to keep in mind that health concerns like weight gain or poor eating habits are sometimes rooted in deeper, more complex issues. Be supportive and patient, and don’t try to control your partner by hiding food or withholding intimacy.
Making Your Action Plan
You may have goals such as losing weight or toning up, but many health concerns are unseen. A concrete plan for a healthier life should include practices that address both internal and external concerns.
You may be aware of risks like ovarian cancer or pelvic mass, but you may not be as informed about men’s risks. Here’s a checklist for men’s health that you can use as a starting point in your discussion:
Get to the doctor. You’re (hopefully) visiting your gynecologist every year to get a well-woman exam, but men are less likely to see a doctor regularly. Encourage your man to schedule a visit to his general practitioner to check his blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar, along with his weight and waistline. Your man’s prostate, bowels, and skin should also be checked regularly to catch problems early.
Understand health history. If you aren’t sure what health concerns run in your and your significant other’s family, start the conversation this week. If you and your man have or are planning to have kids, it’s important to understand what diseases they could be at risk for. For example, 15 percent of all ovarian cancer cases are tied to genetics, which can be passed down by mom or dad.
Cut out bad habits. You already know this, but here it is for good measure: Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption are not healthy! Make a pact with your partner to cut out at least one bad habit (whether it’s junk food or tobacco), and hold each other accountable.
Develop good habits. Diet and exercise can work wonders on your body — inside and out. You need five to 13 servings of fruit and vegetables each day, depending on your age, sex, overall health, etc. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise each week, too.
Don’t forget about mental health. General well-being goes beyond physical health. Mental and emotional health are also huge factors. From meditating to journaling, you and your man should take the time to mentally decompress each day. Perhaps consider seeing a licensed therapist if you’re feeling anxious or depressed.
This Men’s Health Week, take the time to learn about your man’s health, and invite him to join you in the process. This could literally be a life-changing step toward elevating your physical well-being as well as your relationship.