Q. I’ve been married to my loving and hard-working husband for almost 10 years. We have a wonderful marriage and two beautiful kids. But one thing is causing friction: He hasn’t gotten a physical in at least three years. He takes pretty good care of himself by eating healthy and working out regularly, but in my view, that doesn’t take the place of regular checkups. I keep telling him how important it is to me that he get a new primary care physician and make an appointment (he didn’t like his past PCP, which is part of what halted the physicals).
The discussions started off pretty calmly, but have now sometimes gotten heated. He keeps responding that he will find a doctor, but still hasn’t many months later. He knows how important this is to me — I love him very much and want him around, and our kids need a healthy dad — but it doesn’t seem to rise to the level of importance for him to take time out from his busy life. He says he wants to be very selective about a new doctor, and I think he’s using that as an excuse to delay. I think he’s being stubborn and possibly rebelling against my request as a power struggle (though he denies this, of course). I do get that it’s HIS body in the end, and his choice. But I wish he’d take to heart how much his health affects our family, What do you suggest here?
– Don’t Keep the Doctor Away
A. The thing about primary care physicians is that they’re often the gateway to every other doctor we need. I understand why your husband might not think much of an annual visit where you get weighed, blood pressure is checked, etc. — especially if his health is consistent — but what about the other tests that come with age? What about the colonoscopy you get at 45? A skin check by a dermatologist? I have to focus on the colonoscopy stuff because of family history, but I can’t do that without a point person.
Ask him about those bigger tests — the ones that often save lives. If it’s time for him to get those exams, what’s his plan?
I would also ask him if you can be helpful. Perhaps this is about time and energy, and maybe he’d be open to you making some calls.
This might make things worse for your argument (sorry), but I’ve done a lot of reading about how often people should see doctors. I was anxious about it during lockdown, when so many loved ones couldn’t get to their basic checkups. Some experts suggested, in articles, that these annual appointments aren’t vital, and that there are better ways to work with doctors on preventative plans. That would mean it’s important for your husband to really trust his next PCP.
Perhaps if you let your husband know he has a point — that annual appointments aren’t everything — some of that resistance will go away. Then you can move on to practical next steps.
A little heavy on the “I, me, my” in this letter. This is about you, not him. . . . He takes care of himself by eating healthy and exercising regularly. Leave him alone. JOEYMAMA
I take good care of myself, eat healthily ... and I ended up in the ER with a blocked artery. Keep after him and maybe he’ll get checked and say, “See, told you so!” JONRUNSGRAFTON