House Call

Heal Thy Husband?

Encourage and support, but don’t nag

Peter N. Landless & Zeno L. Charles-Marcel
Heal Thy Husband?

My wonderful, loving husband is sedentary, prediabetic, overweight, and has irregular sleeping habits. He seems to be in denial, so how can I help him?

A supportive, understanding, Christlike approach that does not downplay the seriousness of his health risks has a good chance of being successful. Denial is often a coping mechanism that protects us from overwhelming emotions or situations and provides a period of adjustment that gives us time to process information at a pace that feels more manageable. Prolonged denial, however, can hinder effective self-care.

We suggest that you start with and persist in prayer. Ask God for wisdom. Praying together and seeking God’s guidance for strength and healing, and together exploring relevant Bible verses that emphasize taking care of one’s body as “a temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 6:19), are advantageous. If you tap into your husband’s own self-motivation, internal drive, and personal values as a son of God, who has been “bought at a price” (verse 20), you are more likely to be effective in the long term.

Pick a suitable time and private place for an open and honest conversation. Express your loving concerns in a caring and nonjudgmental manner. No one likes to be nagged. Avoid addressing the issue in front of others, as he may become defensive. Ask him how you may best support him. Some men prefer “going it alone,” while others enjoy doing things together. Allow him to express his own concerns, thoughts, and feelings. Listen actively and show that you value his perspective. Don’t trivialize his resistance or fears and don’t belittle him. Respect his preferences and acknowledge his feelings. Show compassion and keep your own emotions in check. The objective here is to have an amicable dialogue that leads to his decision to make some tangible changes.

You may also do some things that indirectly influence the health habits of your entire household: keeping nutritious foods readily available, creating opportunities for physical activity, and establishing a relaxing (or enticing) bedtime routine that favors healthier choices. As a twist, ask him to help you make some needed improvements in your health habits and include him in your improvement plan. Suggest some outdoor activities in the spring that you can do together: walking, swimming, bicycle riding, gardening, fix-it projects, and the like. Playing outdoors with the children (or grandchildren), picnics, and other recreation may be subtle nudges in the right direction. 

Engage him in conversation that involves how a person’s lifestyle might impact their overall well-being, including energy levels, mood, and daily activities. Encourage conversations that explore the potential for a better quality of life with healthier habits. If needed, consider seeking professional counseling or consulting with a health-care professional together. They can provide personalized advice and guidance, reinforcing the importance of health from a medical standpoint, never underestimating God’s power to help (see Phil. 4:13). Moreover, through your actions and words, let him know that you want to grow old together with him, by God’s grace.

Peter N. Landless & Zeno L. Charles-Marcel

Peter N. Landless, a board-certified nuclear cardiologist, is director of Adventist Health Ministries at the General Conference. Zeno L. Charles-Marcel, a board-certified internist, is an associate director of Adventist Health Ministries at the General Conference.