Have you ever made a lifestyle change? We often associate this term with health-related habits, like eating healthier, eliminating things like alcohol or tobacco, or being more physically active. But it can encompass a lot of other things, too. For example, maybe a big career change will have a significant impact on the pace of your day-to-day life. Perhaps one of you has decided to stay home with the kids, and that means dialing back on any extra spending. Maybe you’re moving from big city to a rural area, away from friends, family, and all the conveniences you’re used to.
While there are many different circumstances that could have fueled the change, chances are it wasn’t easy, and it didn’t happen overnight. If you and your spouse are facing a similar situation together, it might feel daunting. In order for it to be sustainable, you’ll have to be on the same page and have each other’s full support. Here are five crucial things you’ll want to discuss:
What is the “why”? In other words, what’s the main reason for the change? Think big picture and long-term. If either of you are hesitant to jump in with both feet, this is a great thing to discuss. If the answer is clear and you’re aligned on it, that’s great! If not, then you definitely have some things to talk about, and this is a great place to start.
Will you both need to go “all in” or is there wiggle room? For some lifestyle changes, it’ll work best if both of you to stick to certain guidelines very strictly – like if you’re significantly changing your money habits or you’re both cutting out alcohol. Being wishy-washy in these instances might undermine the changes you’re trying to make. In other situations, there might be room for more leniency for one or both of you. For example, if you’re both aiming to live a more healthy lifestyle, but one of you has specific dietary rules that need to be followed. Maybe you decide that adhering to the same diet and exercise will work better for you as a couple, or perhaps you determine that you can both do your own thing while working toward the same greater goal. It will all depend on your unique situation.
Discuss potential obstacles and individual needs. What things might stand in the way of successfully sustaining your lifestyle change? It might seem negative to focus on this, but thinking through potential sources of sabotage can help you be prepared or avoid them all together. Maybe you know there are certain people, places, or habits you’ll need to steer clear of or certain things that you anticipate struggling with. Maybe you’re moving from a big city to a rural area and are worried about how both you and the kids will adjust. Talking about these things ahead of time along with ideas for how you might mitigate them can help you stay the path when things get a little bumpy.
Determine the specific ways you’ll support each other. You’ve probably talked about how you have each other’s back and feel confident in each other’s support. But in the day-to-day when you’re actually living the change, it can be helpful to know concrete, specific ways you can help each other. You’ll both need to think through your own needs (which you might have done as part of the previous bullet), then translate them into ways your spouse can help you. Don’t forget to leverage your individual strengths! For example, if you tend to lose motivation to workout, but your partner is actually great at planning workouts, maybe they can commit to pre-planning a week’s worth for you so that you don’t have to think twice about it.
Set a date for a future check in. As we said before, changing your lifestyle doesn’t happen overnight. It’s going to take time, and there’s likely going to be a period of transition, which can be challenging. Set a date when you’ll check in with each other to see how things are going and make any necessary adjustments. Don’t be afraid to bring it up earlier if you need to!
For many couples, committing to a lifestyle change is a major milestone. It can be really hard, but also very rewarding. The key to success, of course, is supporting each other and communicating well. Talking about these things can help you achieve both.