What do you do when your husband hates going to the doctor–but he really needs to go?

A lot of guys just hate seeing a physician. In fact, that’s one of the reasons that researchers figure that married men live longer–their wives often push them to go, when otherwise they may never venture into the doctor’s office!

I know several men among our friend group who have prostate cancer right now, who are doing quite well because they caught it early. And I know one friend who died a few years ago because he waited to go the doctor, despite his stomach pains. And by then his undetected colon cancer was too far advanced. This stuff matters! When I asked on Facebook about tips to get your husband to go see the doctor, several wrote about how a melanoma was caught early, and now their husbands are healthy, because they went to get that freckle checked out.

Nevertheless, you really can’t MAKE someone do anything, and we shouldn’t treat husbands like children. Many men, though, have real phobias of seeing the doctor, and helping them overcome that can be the loving thing to do.

But I thought today I’d brainstorm 10 ways that you can encourage your husband to go to see a doctor, and stop putting it off. As a woman, I do find it funny that guys hate going, because we women are the ones who get our privacy invaded WAY more than guys do (how about that dreaded Pap smear?). Yet many guys avoid it, and that’s a shame, because catching heart conditions, blood pressure issues, diabetes, or even cancer early can have such a tremendous impact on people’s health!

In general, guys don’t need to go to the doctor every year until they’re 50, unless you have a specific health concern or specific family health issues. But if you do have a health concern, then the earlier you see the doctor, the better.

So let’s help our families get healthy. Whether it’s that your husband is simply due for a checkup, whether he’s been having some pain or discomfort, or whether you’re worried about depression or low libido, sometimes we all have issues that we need medical help for.

Here, then, are 10 ways to encourage your husband to go to the doctor–even if he hates the idea!

How to Encourage Your Husband to Go the Doctor: 10 ideas that will help overcome the phobias!

1. Have him take the kids to the doctor, and schedule his checkup at the same time.

Sometimes it’s easier to get him to see the doctor when it’s a family thing, rather than an individual thing. If you have kids, try booking their checkups all at the same time. Even book your own, too, and all go together!

2. Encourage him to make a pact with a friend

Don’t have kids, or does your husband not want to take time out to take the kids to the doctor? Then how about encouraging him to make a pact with a friend? Maybe you have a couple that you both like where the guy is also a little shy about going for a checkup. Guys will often step up the plate when they feel like it’s a competition or they don’t want to lose face. Challenge the husbands to make a pact!

3. Schedule health and dental checkups for his birthday every year, so it’s a routine

It’s often easier to do things if there’s a set routine to them. So if he has difficulty getting up the gumption to book himself a doctor’s visit, just make it a routine that you do all your checkups at the same time, every year–say around his birthday. Then it becomes less about having to make a decision each time, and more about a habit you’ve developed. It’s always easier to do habits than make decisions!

4. Create an incentive for him once he goes

When my daughter was studying for exams, she always found that she’d study harder if she was also giving herself a reward (“Once I’m finished studying three chapters, I get to watch one of my shows on Netflix”). Rewarding ourselves for a job well done is a great psychological tool! So what would incentivize your husband? Would it be taking a Saturday to play golf if he goes to the doctor? Buying a new tool or gadget he’s been wanting? Seeing a sports game? How about saying,

“Honey, I know you don’t want to do this, but I would so appreciate it if you went and had this checked out. So how about this? If you go to the doctor, I give you my full and complete blessing to….” (and you can fill in the blank).

5. Give him a reward yourself

Okay, I really don’t often recommend sex as a reward. I’m a big believer that sex should be a mutual thing in marriage, and a frequent and fun part of your marriage! But in this case, and as long as it’s done with humour, I think a sexual favour can go a long way. 🙂 Tell him that if he goes to the doctor, you’ll give him a night he remembers. Even throw in something you know he likes doing that isn’t on your go-to list (as long as it doesn’t violate your conscience or your dignity). Make a game out of it! Text him about it. And laugh lots.

And remember–studies have shown that the more frequently a guy ejaculates, the less likely he is to get prostate cancer. So you can tell him that if he takes care of his health at the doctor, you’ll take care of it at home. 🙂

6. Do something that YOU’VE been putting off

Misery loves company! And often we’re blind to our own faults, too. You may be bugging him for not going to the doctor, but maybe you haven’t had that difficult conversation with your sister that he knows is needed. Maybe you haven’t agreed to sit down and look at the budget or deal with your credit cards. Or maybe you haven’t gone to the dentist! So how about making a bargain? “Honey, if you go to the doctor, I’ll agree to…” And this time let him fill in the blank with something you’ve been procrastinating about!

7. Confront lifestyle issues and guilt issues

Often guys don’t want to go to the doctor because “I know what they’re going to say anyway.” The doctor will tell him to quit smoking. To quit drinking. To start exercising. To cut out bread. You know the routine.

And because he doesn’t want to feel guilty and he doesn’t want to stop doing those things, he doesn’t want to go see the doctor because he doesn’t want to be subjected to the lecturing.

That’s often how the checkup is seen: it’s all one big thing.

I go to the doctor –> I have to give up something I love

But what if we take the last bit out of the equation? Say something like,

I know you’re likely scared that the doctor will tell you to clean up your act, and I know you don’t want to and don’t feel you have time for all of that right now. So how about this? We forget about that. I won’t pressure you into doing that. I just want you to get whatever tests are needed. So even if the doctor says you need to quit something, I don’t expect anything to change. I just want to make sure nothing’s wrong. So if I can live with you like this, and you can live with you like this, then let’s just make sure that we can at least stay like this!

And what if you actually DO want him to change those eating habits or the smoking? That can be a subject for a different day. For now, let’s just get the tests done. Then you can battle the rest! Let’s not try to combine too many issues all at once or else you may fail to deal with any of them.

8. Calm the “worst case scenario” fear of going to the doctor

I have a friend whose father died at 36 from colon cancer. So when my friend’s husband turned 35–he stopped wanting to go to the doctor. He was so scared that the doctor would find the same thing that he preferred to keep his head in the sand.

Sometimes these fears take on a life of their own when they’re allowed to fester in darkness. That’s when it’s time to bring them to light.

My mom had breast cancer when she was 42, and so I’ve been going for mammograms since I was 32. But one thing that helped me a lot was knowing that my chance was not 100%. That sounds silly, I know, but often deep down we assume that if our parent had these problems, then we will, too. The risk of breast cancer in women is about 1 in 8; if you have a first degree relative (mother or sister) with it, then your chance doubles to 1 in 4. But that still means that you have a 3 in 4 chance of NOT getting it! Not just that, but most of that increase is caused by specific gene mutations. If you don’t have those genes, then the risk is pretty much normal. In fact, 70-80% of women with breast cancer have NO family history. Once I learned all of this, I calmed down considerably, and mammograms, though uncomfortable, are not nearly so scary.

The same could be true with any health issue your husband is dealing with. He is not his father or his grandfather. So do the research, and put some numbers to it. And then remind him of this: Even if he does inherit this, if you catch it early, then it’s often not a huge disaster. 

When your husband HATES going to see the doctor!

9. Talk about your retirement–and what you want it to look like

Dream with him about what you want to do in your later years. Do you want to travel? Start a hobby? Visit the grandkids? Do you want to volunteer more, be active more, make a difference in your community?

Well, you can’t do that if you aren’t healthy. So going to the doctor is about investing in your future together. Frame it that way, rather than reprimanding him for not being responsible. (Seriously, nagging doesn’t work!)

10. Sacrifice on another budget item so that he can go

This isn’t an issue in Canada where we have public health care (though we have other issues, like not being able to choose your doctor or, especially, not having a family doctor at all, because there’s such a shortage), but if you don’t have insurance or if you have to pay a huge deductible, then avoiding the doctor because of the financial cost can be a big problem.

So how about this? If you really want him to go to the doctor, then what are you willing to give up? Take a look at your budget over the next few months, and say, “If it’s going to cost us $X for you to go, then I’m going to find that in savings by cutting our grocery bill, not buying new clothes, foregoing some gifts…” or whatever else you can think of. He may want to be responsible with money, and that’s admirable. But if this is a priority for you–then let’s put your money where your mouth is!

There you go–10 ways to encourage your husband to go and get a checkup, or get a health concern checked out.

Now I’d love to hear from you–have you ever had to convince your husband to go make a doctor’s appointment? How did it go?

SheilaSidebarAboutMe - Top 10 Ways to Get Your Husband to Go to the Doctor Sheila Wray Gregoire has been married for 27 years and happily married for 22! She loves traveling around North America with her hubby in their RV, giving her signature "Girl Talk" about sex and marriage. And she's written 8 books. About sex and marriage. See a theme here? Plus she knits. Even in line at the grocery store.
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