1 Small Step That Can Save A Relationship

Put “I” first. “Let’s” is good, too.

A nag. It’s the last thing we want to be, but when you care about your spouse, it can sometimes be hard to avoid this unfortunate label.


Nagging is one way we can unintentionally undermine our partner’s health, says Michelle May, M.D., chair of the Americans in Motion Advisory Panel for the American Academy of Family Physicians.

“It’s important to understand that spouses are like every other human being,” she says. “They’re motivated by positive small-steps approaches.”

Your approach, however, can make all the difference. May suggests using “I” statements, not “you” statements. Using phrases like “You need to” and “You should” can put your spouse on the defensive.

The Power of "I"

“I” statements, May says, are phrases like “I love you so much, and I really care about your health,” “I want you to be healthy for me and our children,” and “I’d love for you to go to the doctor. I can go with you if you want.”

“They can still say no,” she says, “but there’s no argument. They have to be able to respect that.”

When looking to motivate your spouse, May suggests using the following types of statements:

  • “Let’s spend some time together getting ready for our vacation. Let’s train for hiking!”
  • “Let’s work to get in shape so that we have more energy when we retire.”
  • “Let’s start packing healthy lunches for work the night before, so we don’t feel the urge to hit the fast-food drive-through anymore.”


Take positive small steps for your – and your spouse’s – health. Have an annual check-up with your family doctor. Don’t have a family doctor? Visit gwinnettmedicalcenter.org/physician to find one who will suit both you and your spouse.


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