New research shows that your honey’s bad habits are affecting you more than you think. We’re not talking about how he leaves the toilet seat up or the way her shoes are always lying in the hallway.
We’re talking health habits. That second glass of wine. The bag of chips eaten on the couch after dinner. Deciding to skip working out in favor of a movie. What our spouse does, we’re more likely to do ourselves. We lead each other into temptation.
Actually, if we’re in a same-sex partnership, we lead each other into temptation. For straight couples, it’s nearly always the guys taking the lead and the ladies following.
Married people affect each other’s health choices in three key ways, according to sociologist Corrine Reczek. They influence each other with their own behavior, they engage in synchronous behavior (which is sociologist speak for doing stuff together) and they declaim shared responsibility in favor of personal responsibility.
So a dude who indulges in cupcakes for breakfast every day might influence his wife to try one, get her hooked on the habit of doing it together, and then say, “Well, it was her decision!” Classy.
In gay couples, bad habits tended to be synchronous. Partners would decide together to splurge on ice cream or skip a workout. In het couples, though, both women and men identified dudes as the “bad actors” the vast majority of the time.
This whole thing is fascinating, but the study was based on interviews with couples. I wonder how accurate the findings really were. Just because women and men both think that husbands are leading their wives astray when it comes to healthy living, doesn’t mean it’s the case. They could all be buying into some stereotypes that cause them to pay more attention to the times it’s his idea to bake cookies and less attention to the days she comes home with a six-pack after work.
What do you think? Does your spouse influence your diet and exercise choices? Is your loved one a force for good or evil when it comes to keeping you healthy?