Hax: Wife has to choose improve her health

The Washington PostAugust 22, 2013 

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn: Please help me to get my wife to exercise and lose weight before she has a heart attack. My wife of 20 years is 5 feet 2 and approximately 170 lbs. She used to be quite athletic, but no matter what I try to interest her in, whether walks, bike rides, etc., she usually replies, "Next week." She is on several medications for high blood pressure.

I love her so very much, but I have no idea what I can do to help her. The times I have mentioned a diet we could do together, and how I am worried about her health, have ended up with her becoming angry and defensive. There seems to be a sort of hurdle she can't get over to begin helping herself.

I know she reads your column and respects your advice. I find her as beautiful as the day we met years ago, but I am so worried she is killing herself with inactivity and food.

WORRIED

This is the answer no one wants to hear, but your wife has chosen this path, and you cannot force her off it, even when you have reason to believe it's hurtling her toward an early death.

There are things you can try, of course, and it sounds as if you've tried them all, for all the right reasons - promoting exercise-related couple time and eating better together are the two best, for sure. Yet they take you no further than the line where it becomes her choice.

Re: Worried: I wouldn't want to exercise with my husband if the reason was he thought I was out of shape. If the reason was that he liked my company, or there were interesting things to see, then I wouldn't want to miss out.

ANONYMOUS

Fair enough, but there's a point at which we're asking way too much of our loved ones, in expecting them to serve us their feelings in the one perfectly shaped and flavored form that we're willing to find palatable.

Worrying about your health is caring about your company, since the person wants you to live. Isn't it better for both of you just to set aside your huffies and go for the damn walk?

Email tellme@washpost.com. Chat online at 10 a.m. Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.

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