It’s fairly easy to pick up on possible health ailments in our spouses: Just keep your eyes and ears open. However, it’s much harder to broach the topic of seeing a doctor.
Brian Jones, MD, with Methodist Family Health Center – Cedar Hill East has seen hundreds of patients — some who were more than willing to make the appointment and others who had to be coaxed, bribed, or practically dragged into the physician’s office. However they may have ended up there, the important thing was that they did.
Bribery and force not your style? How about creative, concerned communication? Below, Dr. Jones helps dissect the do’s and don’ts of encouraging your spouse to see a health professional.
Because you probably know your spouse better than anyone else, it’s easy to make assumptions about how he or she would react if you brought up making a doctor appointment for them. But you know what they say about making assumptions, right? The direct approach can actually be quite successful.
If you have never simply come out and told your loved one that you are concerned about his or her health, you might be surprised by the reaction you’ll get. Your spouse might just agree to letting you make that appointment on his or her behalf.
Dr. Jones encourages this approach and agrees that starting with telling your spouse how truly worried you are is the best entry to the conversation.
Chitchat fun fact: Men prefer to have conversations side-by-side, so consider having the conversation in the car or while taking a walk.
Lead the way
Make it as easy as possible for your spouse to say yes. Find the doctor — most people prefer physicians of their same gender — and schedule the appointment for a time you know will be convenient. If your husband wants you to keep him company, go to the appointment with him.
Buddy system benefit: Having your husband or wife present at a doctor appointment is often helpful, Dr. Jones says, since he or she is most likely the one who noticed your signs and symptoms in the first place.
Make it your spouse’s idea
If your spouse isn’t the type who would relish your taking the reins and making all the arrangements for him, then there is always the option to try and make it his idea.
This strategy — most successful for those with the gift of gab — often unfolds with posing a question that leads your loved one to suggest the very outcome you were aiming for. For example, “Honey, I’ve read there are ways to reduce the cost of health insurance if we schedule physicals. What should we do?” When your spouse suggests going to the doctor, it’s a win-win for a lot of couples because no one feels cajoled into a decision.
Say yes to persistence, no to nagging
Dr. Jones wholeheartedly believes that spouses must be persistent with expressing their concerns. Just be careful not to nag. Many of his most reluctant patients finally came to see him after their spouses wouldn’t let them ignore their health any longer.
Work on being loving and encouraging, and in the case of husbands, appeal to their analytical side. If your hubby tends to be competitive and protective, use that angle by focusing on how much you need him healthy and in your life and that seeing a doctor would allay your fears.
By nature, people are more apt to do something with a partner — seeing the doctor is no exception. If your spouse seems willing but reluctant to make an appointment suggest that you both make appointments and go together. Laying the foundation for a more comfortable doctor-patient experience will make your spouse more likely to go again. Dr. Jones states he has witnessed this countless times.
Surrounded by fun
Unpleasant tasks are more tolerable when combined with enjoyable activities — no surprise there! Suggest going out to dinner and a movie afterward to lessen your spouse’s reluctance. If more fun is needed, try scheduling something fun before and after the appointment to make the doctor’s visit seem like a small detour on a fun-filled day. This tactic could make the appointment seem less foreboding since it’s just another task in an otherwise feel-good, busy day.
Has your husband or wife ever rejected one of your suggestions only to jump all over the exact same suggestion when it comes from another person of influence? While this can be super frustrating, use it to your advantage.
Reach out to a trusted person in your loved one’s life and recruit him or her to talk to your spouse about seeing a doctor. Remember, don’t take it personally if it’s successful — it’s a win for everybody!
Whether you will be tasked with finding a doctor and making the appointment for your spouse or just creatively guiding “the talk,” it comes down to one goal: helping your beloved get the medical attention he or she may need.