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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 intense pain. By the time he went, the undetected cancer had advanced too far. 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.

Perhaps in your marriage it’s YOU who won’t go to the doctor! I talked yesterday about 10 tips for making pap smears easier. Many women have phobias about doctor visits, too.

Before we launch into husbands, just a note about yesterday’s post. A huge debate broke out on Facebook (and a bit here) about whether pap smears were even necessary, and how it’s okay to avoid them. I am NOT a doctor, and I’m very reluctant to ever tell anyone that it’s okay to go against what the medical guidelines are for their country. If you do research and talk to your doctor, though, that is of course totally up to you! And cervical cancer is tied to HPV in the vast, vast majority of cases, and if you weren’t sexually active with anyone and your husband wasn’t, your risk is totally minimal. That’s my situation, too, and that’s why I told my doctor I wanted as few as was wise.

AT THE SAME TIME, even without Pap smears, there are very real reasons for internal exams. I had polyps on my cervix that had to be removed that could only be found from an internal exam. When you’re pregnant, they’re going to have to do a ton of them. You may have issues that require an internal ultrasound (done that too, many times). Anything to do with the uterus, ovaries, or cervix is often looked at with an internal ultrasound.

I think it’s important, as women, to realize that this is a part of our body, just like any other part, that can have things go wrong with it. It isn’t pleasant, but we likely do need to get used to internal exams–even if we forego the Pap smears!

Sheila

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 intense pain. By the time he went, the undetected cancer had advanced too far. 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.

Perhaps in your marriage it’s YOU who won’t go to the doctor! I talked yesterday about 10 tips for making pap smears easier. Many women have phobias about doctor visits, too.

Or maybe you have a husband who is just great at this stuff and this isn’t an issue for you! (Yay!).

Some of you, though, are married to men who genuinely won’t go to the doctor. I wrote about this a few years ago, but I thought it might be a good day to revisit it since we’ve spent all month talking about pelvic floor issues and I’ve been encouraging women to seek what can seem like super uncomfortable medical help. Let’s not leave the guys out of the conversation!

So 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!

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. 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!

6. 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.

7. 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. 

Husband at the Doctor - 10 Ways to Encourage Your Husband to Go to the Doctor

8. 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!)

9. 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 in places with a doctor shortage 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!

10. Look at bigger marriage issues, if this is a sign of something else

Finally, if you’ve looked at all of these and none of them would work for your situation, it may be that your husband has something bigger that does need to be dealt with. Part of being an adult is doing essential things that you don’t like doing. Adults pay bills. Adults go to work. Adults contribute. And adults do not shy away from their responsibilities.

If your husband stubbornly refuses to do something that he absolutely must do for his health, it is okay to make this a big issue. Take a look at my series on emotional immaturity, because that may give some insight. Talk to a counselor. Bring in some mentor friends. But if it’s stubbornness and immaturity on his part, and he refuses to do something about it, then that is honestly not okay. If it’s mental health issues, you may need even more help. Talk to those in your circle who can support you, because likely there are bigger issues that need to be dealt with, too.

There you go–10 ways to encourage your husband to go and get a checkup, or get a health concern checked out. I hope some of these resonated with you!

And true story: I originally had “give him sexual favours” as one of the points. I put in all of these caveats–IF sex is easy for you and IF you’re in a healthy marriage and IF you’re generally playful together and IF it wouldn’t start a weird dynamic in your marriage because you don’t want to reward certain behaviour–but I just couldn’t find a way to get it to work that wouldn’t potentially be harmful to some couples! Sigh. It is tough talking about these issues. (But if you’re a couple where you know that might work and wouldn’t lead to harmful dynamics–then consider that your #11 that I didn’t actually write!). 

 

10 Ways Encourage Husband Doctor - 10 Ways to Encourage Your Husband to Go to the Doctor

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?

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum

Sheila has been married to Keith for 28 years, and happily married for 25! (It took a while to adjust). She’s also an award-winning author of 8 books, including The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila is passionate about changing the evangelical conversation about sex and marriage to line up with kingdom principles. ENTJ, straight 8

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