Last March, when I moved to Ottawa, I set out to change my life. Husband wasn’t here, so I spent a lot of time at the gym, and imposed upon myself a strict diet change. Since then, I’ve lost a fair amount of weight, and gained a good amount of muscle. My stamina is up, and so is my energy in other things. This was really exciting for me. I even like myself more. Not because I now better fit the confines of conventional beauty or anything like that, but because my body is going things I want it to. I can lift and bend and run and do whatever I put my mind to. Confidence is up, too, which is pretty fantastic.
When Husband moved to Canada, I imposed many of the same life changes onto him. And it worked.
Husband says that he will never deny me anything I ask him. I want a manual transmissions? He’ll learn to drive stick. I’m having a shit day? He grabs me gelato from the shop down the street. So when I told him I really wanted him to be healthier, he didn’t say no.
He’s healthier now, losing weight and gaining muscle and energy and confidence. Some days, though, it occurs to me that I am in fact changing my partner. He wants to change — we have discussed it at length — but it’s not uncommon to see cartoons where the woman changes the man and then in the last panel she comments, “you’re not the man you were when we met,” and the poor guy looks utterly perplexed.
So which is it — is it ok to change your partner or not?
I think the answer to that, similar to any other question, is, “it depends”.
There are days when Husband doesn’t want to go to the gym but I force him. There are also days I don’t want to go to the gym and he forces me. Just because I inspired the change doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a change he doesn’t want. Like anything in a relationship, change must come naturally and with mutual understanding.
If he’d told me flat out he had zero interest in losing weight, would I have forced him to give? Probably not. But The fact that I am the one who incited the change could, by some, be seen as problematic. The phrase fat-phobic comes to mind. And with that a whole host of concerns that, by forcing my spouse to change for me, I am being insensitive to him.
For that, I would of course call bullshit.
I love my husband. I mean, I married him with no expectation for him to change in any way, shape or form. I want him to be happy and healthy for a very long time, and if that means asking him to join me in a lifestyle change that will provide us with healthier, happier years, then I’m ok with that. If he told me the changes I was asking were too much, I would ease up, and I would of course never make him feel like any sort of change was a requirement for my loving him forever. But asking him to change in a meaningful way, and communicating with him about how the change will improve our time together? That’s just life.