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A Million Reasons Why They Won't Go

  • They feel invincible.
  • They see it as a sign of weakness to see the doctor.
  • They fear what the doctor will say.
  • They are too busy.
  • They believe that medical care too expensive.
  • They are embarrassed about the illness or medical condition.
  • They are fearful of painful medical procedures.
  • They have had a bad experience in the past with a particular doctor, healthcare facility, or medical procedure.
  • They are in denial about their current health status.

The list is endless. Perhaps your significant other has a reason not to go to the doctor that is not on the list.

The trick is how to get them to the doctor ... without nagging.

Right. That's the tricky part!

Here are some thoughts about what you can do ... and what you shouldn't do ... when your spouse refuses to get necessary medical or psychological help. I say spouse here because it is more often men who refuse medical intervention, but some women are also resistant to the idea.

What You Should Say and Do

  • Tell your spouse that you are worried. Talk to him or her about the fear you feel over this situation.
  • Talk to your spouse about your own feelings related to the impact this refusal of help or treatment has on you.
  • Accept your role as spouse and not as your spouse's mom. Your spouse is an adult and capable of making personal medical decisions.
  • Tell your spouse that you want him/her to see a doctor because of your love. You can also offer to go with him/her.
  • Ask if you can set up an appointment for your spouse to see a doctor.
  • If you believe your spouse's refusal to seek medical or psychological care is life-threatening, then you need to get professional help in getting your spouse the help that is needed.
  • Consider seeing a counselor on your own to help deal with your mixture of feelings. It is important that you take care of yourself and accept your own feelings of frustration, anger, etc.

What You Should Not Say or Do

  • Do not nag.
  • Do not set up an appointment with a doctor without your spouse's okay.
  • Do not continue to have endless arguments about this issue.
  • Do not manipulate your spouse into getting help.
  • Do not threaten to leave the marriage (unless you really mean it).

On average, your husband will live a shorter life span than you by about 5 years. Why? Because of the ideals of masculinity: Men are supposed to be strong, tough, resilient, hard workers, good providers, good lovers, partners, husbands, parents, and bosses.

Wanting never to appear weak can in the end lay you low. It's pain that motivates most men to seek help, and by then, it is often too late.

The combined force of changing attitudes, access to affordable health care, strong public awareness campaigns all help change behaviors.

But the reality is, even if men become more receptive to the messages about prevention, women are a long way from shedding their frequent role as the family's primary guardians and gatekeepers for health care. So keep up the honest concern for and the honest talk with your spouse (or husband, as the case is likely to be.)

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