The Difference Between “Nudging” and “Pushing” Your Spouse.

[quote]Chris, since you already have a successful business please help me to give my bf the same drive. He’s currently working as a personal trainer and he said that is his passion but they don’t give him enough hours at work. He’s a smart handsome, charming guy but I don’t understand how he doesn’t have enough confidence to look for another job. How do I help him without sounding like a nagging gf??? Basically he has a lot to do every day but always falls behind and I keep telling him to write down his goals and to do lists but he just doesn’t have the motivation – which is weird since he motivates people for a living!  Please help! <3 you guys![/quote]

Dear Lisa,

What a fantastic question!  Many couples I know, including Lori and I, have struggled with this.  It’s tough when you see that your partner is struggling, but won’t do what it takes to change their situation.  Also, you are correct in wondering where the happy medium is between offering enough encouragement for him to make a change, but not crossing the “nagging” line where it could actually discourage him from making a move.  This is a very important balance that’s hard to strike.  This can sometimes be a very sensitive subject for men to handle, as they always feel like they need to be this great provider, so handle with care.

The first thing I would offer you is that you can’t make someone change until they are really ready for change.  You see, change is a scary thing to most people, and while someone can be unhappy in their current situation, they may be scared that the “change” could result in failure, thus making them even more unhappy!  The ironic part is, personally speaking, that every change that has scared me most, has always turned out wildly for the better!  Perhaps your first step is to have him think of other changes he’s been hesitant to make, and discuss how well they have turned out in the long run.

My next piece of advice is that it is always better to lead with a carrot than push with a stick!  Meaning, instead of letting the subject turn into fights, arguments or insults, always keep the discussions positive.  Offer him incentive to take small steps toward finding a new training job.  Perhaps find some potentially interesting job listings for him as a favor.  Lead by example by offering up changes of your own to accomplish, and commit to making these steps together.  People always accomplish more when they know that someone is doing it right along with them.

Finally, you must always be honest with him.  Sometimes people need to be shown bluntly but constructively that they have a choice to make, and by not acting on that choice, their life simply will not change for the better.  Remind him that they say “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results!”  There’s lot of truth to that saying.  You must tell him both when he’s doing a good job of moving forward, and when he’s using excuses or not prioritizing his goals.

Finding a new job is never easy, but nothing worth having ever is.  Stick together, and you’ll both benefit from him succeeding.  After all, a happy boyfriend makes for a happy girlfriend!

Best of luck,