Cabel & Wendy McElderry
Earlier this year the Advocate asked me to contribute an article to a special section they were publishing on health and fitness. I really wanted to do something special for this section, something different. Wendy and I co-wrote this piece on the steps to supporting your spouse and working together to develop and acheive your fitness goals. I hope you enjoy it.
This is the time of year many of us are setting new goals. If you are married or in a relationship chances are your spouse or companion is also setting new goals. I am sure Wendy and I are not alone in acknowledging that for many husbands and wives it’s very difficult to know how to properly encourage or support your spouse as they pursue their own goals. Yet as individuals the encouragement, support or lack thereof from our spouse can have a dramatic impact on whether we ever reach our goals.
I knew I couldn’t write a column on this topic alone so I turned to the best expert I know and together we have outlined our best tips for spouses to motivate and encourage each other.
1) Set your goals and most importantly write them down. Do this together and it will be much easier for your spouse to be supportive when they know exactly what it is you are trying to accomplish. After you have written your goals assist each other in defining the steps that need be taken to accomplish them. This doesn’t mean you have to have the same goals.
2) Once you`ve set your goals you might make mini challenges or find ways to challenge each other. You can be companions but you can also be competitors. Seeing the other push harder in turn makes you want to work harder, but also set rewards at the end. If she wins the challenge maybe she gets a new outfit, if he wins the challenge maybe he gets a back rub or a trip to the sports store, either way make it worth something.
3) If at all possible do the activity together. It’s easier to find motivation to improve when there is someone holding you accountable and that you will disappoint if you bail. It’s also harder to make excuses not to do it when you know that other person is counting on you to participate.
4) Listen to your spouse talk about their goals and experiences trying to achieve them. Talk to your spouse about what they are doing. Women especially love to just talk and be heard. The more excited and supportive you are to her ideas, the more excited she will become just talking about it. You don’t need to give suggestions, unless she asks, but just listen to her spill her guts about her awesome workout or how great her butt looks now. Whatever it is just listening is the key. Guys go back and read this one again.
5) Encourage your spouse to do activities they love. Let them know it is ok to take time away from work, the relationship, the housework, whatever it may be to do something just for themselves.
6) Support them with your actions and get involved even if it`s just once in a while. Words can mean a lot, and people need to hear encouraging words but actions speak far louder. Try and get involved somehow to show that the other person`s interests are important to you. Share in their passion, even if it’s only once in a while. Showing interest is one way to make someone feel that what they do is important and matters.
7) When things get hard, because they always do, remind and affirm each other about the reasons they can succeed. We all need encouragement and affirmation far more often than we receive, in a world full of negativity and fear it`s important to be that person who can bring a positive twist back to our companion`s day.
As individuals we can accomplish a great deal but as a team we can accomplish far more. As you both set and embark on new goals committing to these seven tips will not only help you reach your goals but create an avenue of growth providing even more important reward. Though it may sound easy on paper being able to properly encourage and support your spouse is something you get better at with practice. Use these seven tips and don`t forget to start out small, have fun doing it and be patient with one another, all good things take time.