Mixed Marriages

by Jude on December 12, 2011

in Smart.Sexy.Paleo

My husband and I have a mixed marriage. He worships at the temple of grains and conventional wisdom and I, as you know, am a dedicated worshipper of all things paleo.

For every Paleo power couple, there are many couples where spouses are on separate ends of the spectrum.

Heck, it doesn’t even need to be about Paleo. Pick any health improvement. Quitting smoking, losing weight, hitting the gym – you get the picture. You’re fully committed, your partner… meh. Not so much.

In a perfect world, you’d both be on the same page. Eating the same meals, complaining about the same brutal workout, getting excited about the same awesome recipes.

In reality, you’re shopping for two different ways of eating, washing pots and pans for two meals, working out alone and fending off constant criticisms about your crazy diet from your beloved.

(Or is that just me?)

So what do you do?

Yeah. That’s a tough one. I don’t really know the answer to that.

On one hand, you could be an excellent role model and encourage your beloved to make those changes – either by getting amazing results yourself or by some other, less subtle, methods.

Or, you could just move forward without your beloved. Tackle it alone and reap the benefits – waiting until some kind signal comes that they might just be ready to make a change.

Which is what I’m doing. I’ve discovered a new community and they (and you) get what I’m doing. I love spending time with people who actively care about their health and aren’t afraid to educate themselves. I’m going overseas alone two times in 2012 and am increasingly just keeping my mouth shut when it comes to anything health related.

We are living totally different lives. This is not the way I thought it would be – but in many ways, it is just easier.

I’m getting sick of watching my husband age so aggressively and see him move further away from me on the “Surviving – Thriving” continuum. I’m also tired of hearing about all of his mental and physical health concerns that I know would be improved by ditching all of the toxins and doing some kind of exercise – the answer is not at the bottom of a bottle of wine a night, or embedded into a violent computer game. But what do I know?

Sometimes you just need to make a choice. Put your own oxygen mask on first, or spend valuable time trying to help (battle with?) someone else to put their oxygen mask on when they just aren’t ready. No one wins in that situation.

None of this is new. There are countless stories of people who have made significant health changes and found that their marriage just isn’t the same anymore.

This post from October “When good health ruins a perfectly good marriage” has stuck with me ever since I read it. If I’m brutally honest, it is probably a little too close to home in some parts. If you haven’t already read it, please go do it.

So, over to you. Are you part of a power-couple or are you making your health changes on your own? Have you succeeded in encouraging your loved ones to make a few changes to their lifestyle?

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Tanja December 12, 2011 at 9:46 am

Great post & to be honest, this is something I’ve thought about a lot.

I am lucky enough to have an amazing fiancee, who supports me in every way. I was very sick for a very long time, which I believe gave weight to my plea for trialling paleo eating in the first place. He said yes, but only for 30 days. That was more than a year ago.

I won him over with cooking. I started baking, making smoothies and getting inventive in the kitchen in a manner that I had never done before. I made sure it was delicious, fun and never, ever difficult. He loved the food, he loved the new domestic goddess me, and the life change stuck.

Getting him to start CrossFit was a tad trickier. It took a few months, but my excitement eventually rubbed on and he’s as keen as I am these days.

Honestly, I couldn’t do it without him.

My hat goes off to you for being strong enough to carry the life change on your own shoulders alone. Good luck!


Jude December 12, 2011 at 8:38 pm

Hey Tanja – so glad that you and your fiancee are on the same page! Makes things so much easier!!

I appreciate your well wishes, I do feel strong enough to tackle this part of my life alone. And by doing that, I’m strong enough to work the rest out – hopefully together :)


Nicole Caulfield - Mealpod December 12, 2011 at 10:35 am

My husband and I try to do the same thing to an extent with eating. He even talked me into doing vegetarian or actually pescatarian last year, which along with a knee injury made me gain 15 pounds. We’re back to eating meat but with our meal system we used to have (mealpods – weekly cooking packaged individually) and I am back to my healthier weight. I however am eating gluten-free and as close to whole foods as I can and my hubbie eats his meals that I cook that way but not the rest of the time. So we are in a similar situation there. I also exercise 6 days a week and he is about to start… like usual, lol. Its tough to be on the same page!



Jude December 12, 2011 at 8:40 pm

Hi Nicole :)

Congratulations on your results and getting back to a healthier place. It sounds like you guys are a great team :) )

So glad you stopped in!



Jamie December 12, 2011 at 11:02 am

It’s always a tough one, Jude. Often we come together on a platform of shared values, e.g. two people came together for their shared love of the same type of music. But values aren’t rigid and they can shift with time. Pursuing your own health, almost by definition, is very ego-centric and can often become quite a selfish endeavour. But one that no one should ever apologise for. Some of the choices that we often have to make to increase our health, can leave loved ones and partners being out in the cold. But what is the alternative? You sacrifice your health to keep another individual happy? I made a good living as a PT/Nutritionist consulting to (mainly) women who had sacrificed their own health for partners and family. Almost without exception there becomes a backlash when an individual, who may have dedicated a good portion of their time helping someone else fulfil their values, suddenly sacrifices some of that time for themselves. For example, a wife who previously made sure all the kids were sorted for breakfast in the morning, allowing the husband a “casual” start to their morning, now has hubby having to get up early and deal with the chaos of the morning while they head to the gym.

I guess, moving forward, one always has to assess what values need to take priority. If your relationship and the values this fulfils is ultimately more important than absolute optimal health, then a scarifice has to be made. But then of course, the reverse could be true. Though it need not be that black & white I suppose (said by a very black and white person). It could be that you both find a mutual strategy that you undertake together where your personal health value gets pushed back on the priority list?? I don’t know.

For me, I know it would be a deal breaker. I couldn’t imagine sharing my life with someone who doesn’t prioritise their health – coming from someone who has spent far too much time and emotional energy trying to convince people who have let their health go that it needs to be reprioritised and I can see the toll not doing so is taking on them. But then I’m an incredibly selfish person at the best of times!

Nice post and links. Great to see people putting this stuff out there.


Jude December 12, 2011 at 8:54 pm

I really appreciate you stopping in, Jamie.

I’m nothing if not honest and happy to put it out there. May as well give people the real me.

I’m going to give him the chance to come along for the ride (even part of the ride) with me, but I’m certainly done worrying about what his choices. Hugely liberating.

Interestingly, and this is very personal (which is obviously why I’m discussing it in the comments!) that I’m not healthy/fit enough to be attractive to the sort of people I’m hanging out with these days – especially considering the vast damage I’ve done to myself. But, the sort of people I might be physically attractive for, are generally the kinds of people that I am moving away from.

Anyway, that is all just talk. It’s not like I’m looking for someone else.

It is something that I’ll work on with him, knowing that there will come a point where it may no longer be worth it. I’m a pragmatist and would rather be single for the rest of my life than put my values and priorities down the list for someone else.

I don’t think selfish is a bad thing – especially when it relates to health. I’ve become a much better person for taking that selfish route. Well, I think so – and that’s all that matters ;p


Jamie December 13, 2011 at 5:48 am

“I’m not healthy/fit enough to be attractive to the sort of people I’m hanging out with these days – especially considering the vast damage I’ve done to myself. But, the sort of people I might be physically attractive for, are generally the kinds of people that I am moving away from. ”

I’m not entirely sure you get a say in that, Jude. I read/hear these sorts of statements quite often – where people dictate who will or won’t find them attractive. Given the amount of biochemistry involved, I’m not sure the it is as subjective as you are perhaps alluding to above.

A moot point – but an interesting one to consider, nonetheless.


Stone Age Mom December 12, 2011 at 2:33 pm

I relate 100%. My husband was 7 months post divorce when I met him. He had some Atkins books, lifted weights a bit, and went on short runs. He was 30 pounds less than now. I was floundering a bit in paleo-land back then as the resources were much more sparse. But I thought he was pretty health conscious.

Fast forward to now. He doesn’t pound away the Doritos or drink up Slurpees. However, he has every symptom of metabolic derangement: he’s on statins, has very high triglycerides, shaped like an apple, had his gall-bladder removed, has gastrointestinal problems. He sort of believes what I tell him, but wants to be “normal.” He takes one piece of bread off of the sandwiches he gets through the drive-throughs. Has a zillion cans of soda a day. And meanwhile talks about other people who have no “self-control” with their health.

For the most part, this isn’t a huge problem. Except when it comes to my son, he CONSTANTLY is slipping him things. Well, not constantly, but every time I have him in charge of my son. Which makes me want to be more of a martyr and care for him as much as I can myself. The other problem is the crap we have around for when his daughters are around. I feel really bad because they both are on the path towards being overweight, and I can already see that the youngest is going to have all sorts of health problems due to her buttered noodles diet.

But that’s where techniques in “letting go” come in handy. I have to step back and realize that my son eats well about 80% of the time. A million times better than other kids his age.

The good news is that in the last two days, my husband has asked me to pack a lunch for him as he realizes that going to the drive through isn’t doing him any favors. It hasn’t stopped him from getting his sugar-free lattes from McDonalds. But it is a step, since he is a self-proclaimed leftover hater.


Jude December 12, 2011 at 8:58 pm

Hey Stone Age Mom!

Firstly, WOOO about your new developments. Having hubby asking for help is a great step. You must be feelin pretty good/optimistic?

The whole kid thing is another issue entirely. I’m grateful I don’t need to worry about that – it is a big responsibility to set kids up with good habits and it adds another layer of complexity!

Still, you keep doing what you’re doing – it’s obviously working. Your son has good habits, your husband is asking for help – I’d say things are lookin gooood :)


Marilyn December 12, 2011 at 11:55 pm

DH and I have been married over 31 years, followed diet and exercise routines together, mostly GAINED weight together. I had to take the first step by myself this last time, and after I’d dropped almost 40 pounds, he got interested and joined me. We’re both only half-way through our health-journey, but it’s become more essential since we lost our health insurance this year. He’d been diagnosed with hypertension and diabetes and has eliminated most of his meds, with our doctor pronouncing him “cured” from both diseases, which is pretty remarkable, IMO. However, we’re both still quite overweight now – just not morbidly obese any more! It’s good to have his support and enthusiasm for the changes, and although I was perfectly able to prepare him different food for the first few months, it might’ve gotten real old real fast had he not decided to join me when he did! :-) Since he’s blood-type-A and I’m blood-type-O, I’m not surprised that he still dreams about pizza, etc. – but on those rare occasions when we’ve indulged in anything containing WHEAT lately, we’ve both been struck by how disappointing the actual eating experience, how fast the cravings return, and how quickly we feel CRUMMY – just not worth it!!


Nury December 21, 2011 at 3:35 am

Thanks for the thoughtful post, Jude. It definitely hit home for me. I have been paleo for about 9 months and my fiancee has not joined me. Aside from the odd comment about how strange some of my food choices are and occasional offers of pizza or ice cream, however, he is actually very supportive. He also (mostly) enjoys my paleo cooking and helps by grilling our meats. He has come to my CrossFit gym for a friends and family day and came out for the gym’s anniversary party. He says he can’t commit to going to the gym at specific times and so can’t do CF, but he has changed his workout routine to include more metabolic conditioning. Although it would be extra nice to have a partner in my paleo journey, I feel very lucky and happy that he is so supportive.


Kellie December 21, 2011 at 8:23 am

This rings true for me also. I have been paleo for a year, and my husband is not. Most of the time he is happy to just let me get on with it, but sometimes he is very negative and thinks the whole ‘paleo thing is a big load of bullshit’. Mainly because he doesn’t get that we are not trying to imitate the exact lifestyle and food availability of our paleolithilic ancestors – just trying to eat what is optimal for our health. We have had many an argument with me trying to make him understand that – it is very frustrating. Having said that he is happy for me to make paleo meals for him and the kids, and always enjoys the food. I have cooked pasta for them only twice in the last year and he has not complained about the change of food offered for dinner. He continues to eat lots of sugar, smoke, and eat grains. I have given up trying to change him. All I can do is try to educate my children about healthy eating habits. Don’t get me wrong, we are still very happy & I love him to bits, but it is disheartening when his health could be greatly improved if he just ‘got it’.


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