Dear Stephanie and Bruce: I have been enjoying my emerging identity as a fitness enthusiast but have been experiencing friction in my relationship with my wife. Although she is supportive of me working out at the gym during the week and hiking, biking or running on the weekends, I have sensed increased resistance to my desire to participate in events every weekend. What advice do you have to stop the emotional chaffing? Ray, age 52
Dear Ray: Successfully maintaining a healthy long-term relationship with a partner is challenging by itself before adding the stress of striving to exceed your fitness goals.
Here are five tips to help you achieve physical and relationship fitness:
1 – Communication. Talk with your partner frequently to let her know your plans for the week and month, to learn her plans and to thoughtfully remind each other of plans that were previously agreed upon. Consider making this part of your daily conversation to keep each other informed and avoid unwelcome surprises. If you are not already doing this, consider a shared calendar at home in the kitchen or an electronic version that can be viewed at a glance when making plans to avoid double booking dates or scheduling a triathlon on your wife’s birthday.
2 – Negotiation and flexibility. Prioritize your commitments and try not to worry too much about interruptions to your training schedule. An occasional missed workout is not the end of the world. If an event comes up that you really want to do, negotiate a deal with your family. Maybe you will do a fun run on Saturday but promise to take the kids to the zoo on Sunday. Plan ahead and try to do most of your training at times that do not interfere with family time. Be intentional with including your family as much as possible. For example, attend an event in a fun location that everyone would like to visit.
3 – Find a shared interest. Talk to your family about their goals and interests and find an activity that everyone enjoys. Perhaps the family can try new hikes, an adventure race or geocaching together. Maybe your wife would like to set some goals for herself but feels like she doesn’t have the time. Find shared interests and talk about how you can support one another.
4 – Honor your different interests. Perhaps you and your partner have completely different interests. How can you ensure that you are supportive of your wife’s needs, interests and desire to pursue her own passions? Sometimes individuals who enjoy physical challenges can become a bit obsessive about accomplishing these goals and dedication to their training at the expense of others. Realize that the world does not revolve around you and that others have different ideas of fun.
5 – Be physically and emotionally present. Find that balance between work, training and family life. Plan ahead so your workouts and events don’t interfere with important family activities. When you are spending time with your spouse and family, make sure you are not obsessing about your next workouts but are fully engaged and enjoying the time with the people you love.
Contact us if you would like a specific training plan.
Best wishes for your continued success.
Stephanie and Bruce
About the authors: Stephanie Norton-Bredl is the health and wellbeing director at the Auburn Valley YMCA and may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Bruce deJong is a group exercise instructor at the Auburn Valley YMCA and may be contacted at email@example.com.