January is here and almost gone – which means millions of people who were eating cookies and pizza in December are now drinking kale shakes and reading 1,001 Ways to Prepare Cabbage and Love It. There is something about a new year which makes people long for new beginnings. Hope rings anew. Failures from the past seem more distant. And, the thought, “I can do it this time” rises to the surface.
January, as is another beginning, leads many people to think about their health and attempt to do something about it.
Over the years, we have noticed many individuals note a desire for their future mate to be physically active and to eat healthfully. There is nothing in the world wrong with this desire; in fact, it is understandable and good. The problem comes when one person says, “Sure, I will be healthy with you” without truly desiring a lifestyle filled with greens and exercise. Or, when one or both people think they want to live a healthy lifestyle but fail to count the cost before jumping on board.
There is a great difference between ‘I hike or mountain bike at least once a week and enjoy attending vegan cooking conferences’ and ‘I eat a few salads a week and I think I might like to start exercising more.’ If health and wellness is simply a nice thought, it is not in your bones yet; and, until it is in your bones and a part of who you are, it is unwise to commit to such a lifestyle. Eventually, you will get sick of it and your partner may feel deceived and betrayed.
So, at this point in your relationship, you should be looking, researching, and learning. What do I believe about health? What part should healthy living play in my life (and my future spouse’s life)? What does God’s Word say about healthy living? What is overkill? What does a healthy lifestyle look like? Why do I believe this? Are we on the same page or close to it?
Keep a Notebook!
If you have not already, we recommend you start a notebook to keep track of the different topics you will cover with your significant other on your way to creating your personal creed and eventually your couple’s creed. Decorate it. Have fun with it. It will come in handy at the end of the year when you construct your final product!
In the area of health and wellness, how do each of you answer the following questions?
- What is my overall idea of a healthy lifestyle? (List as many aspects as you can think of in 5-10 minutes)
- On a scale from 1-10, how important is it to me for my future spouse and I to live a healthy lifestyle (like the one you just finished describing in the above question)? What made me choose that number?
- What influences, life lessons, or experiences led me to my current feelings and beliefs about health and wellness (e.g., what a healthy lifestyle looks like and why it is important)?
- How am I already living the ideal healthy lifestyle I listed in the first question? How long have I implemented each part (e.g., exercise, healthy diet, emotional release, etc.)?
- Which (if any) fears or concerns do I have regarding my health, my future spouse’s health, or my children’s health? Are these fears likely to impact my decision making?
- What amount of money (or percentage of my income) am I willing to spend on healthy living (e.g., food, exercise equipment, personal trainers, health-focused getaways, etc.)?
- What is your health heritage? How did your parents/grandparents approach health? In what ways do you want to continue in their footsteps? In what ways do you wish to change paths?
As you think of other questions, feel free to add them. The list above is meant to get you started in thinking about your beliefs and to get a solid conversation going between you and your sweetheart. How are your views on health and wellness similar and how are they different? Are the differences ones which can be resolved?
Learning More about Our Health Beliefs
Some people come into relationships with an unwritten health lifestyle already in action while others are at the starting line. Wherever you are right now is fine. It is where you are heading which matters. If you already know what you believe, share your thoughts with your partner. Then, give him or her room and space to research on his or her own. Be open to questions and be non-defensive when questioned.
If you are both starting from scratch:
- Read books.
- Read blogs and articles.
- Watch YouTube videos.
- Watch documentaries.
- Interview people you admire who seem to have a handle on healthy living.
- Read Scripture.
- Try new activities and foods and document how you feel.
Be patient. Our understanding of health evolves as we grow. For now, you are looking for a foundational belief regarding health and how much of your time, energy, and money should be going towards it. The more you genuinely agree, the easier this area of your future marriage will be!
A Few Scripture Passages to Study and Discuss:
“Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. (I Timothy 4:7-8, ESV)
“Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. (Proverbs 3:7-8, ESV)
“Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, ‘Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king’s food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.’ So he listened to them in this matter, and tested them for ten days. At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king’s food. So the steward took away their food and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables. (Daniel 1:11-16, ESV)
Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. (Genesis 9:3-4, ESV)
We hope this post leads to some quality conversation and helps you get to know each other better. Health is such a broad topic – food, exercise, emotional well-being, air quality, WiFi/radiation, medical exams, medications, etc. Go to your list from the first question and start working through each aspect of your ideal health life one by one. Compare and contrast. Learn and grow. Be honest with yourself and each other.
Eventually you will conclude – do we have the same beliefs regarding our health and are we heading in the same direction? It is far better to be honest and realistic than deceitful and/or optimistic.
We are not suggesting that this topic must be a deal-breaker, though it certainly can be if your views are too conflicting. However, if you are comfortable with what you agree on, that is what is important – even if you do not see eye-to-eye on some aspects of health. However, you should both be 100% on board with anything you add to your couple’s creed.
Maybe you can talk about it while you walk the track or ride bikes? Just a thought. ~smile~
Is health and wellness important enough to you and your significant other to make it into your couple’s creed?