What is it
about men that they won’t go to the doctor unless you nag them incessantly?
It’s almost as though they have blinders on that allow them to ignore even the pragmatic
reasons for staying on top of their mental and physical health.
It’s a little different in my situation because I’m married to a doctor who is mindful about his health, but so many of my friends vent their frustrations to me about how difficult it is to get their father or spouse to even just schedule an annual check-up.
wonder why it’s such a big deal to guys, but less so for women? It took me a
while to figure it out, but after years of working in the medical field, it became
clear to me that a lot of this has to do with cultural messaging and stereotypes
Many women might remember being a teenager and having to go for that first gynecological exam, and even if it was a bit mortifying in that teenage sort of way, you’ve still probably gone every year as recommended. By virtue of our reproductive anatomy, women are introduced to annual medical appointments relatively early on and accept that it’s a normal part of life.
Not so for
don’t go to the doctor unless they are actually sick or have a broken bone. They
often learn at a young age that it’s not okay to cry or talk about their
feelings and to push through pain rather than “be a wimp.” And many are encouraged
to be fearlessly independent, which helps them develop a strong sense of
autonomy. However, men can be very uncomfortable when something challenges this—like
a doctor who might tell them that they have a health problem.
So for a lot
of men, keeping their head in the sand seems to be a strategy for avoiding any unnecessary
“threats” to their sense of masculinity and self-control—much to the
frustration of their spouses!
There was a
really interesting survey done by the Cleveland Clinic a couple of years ago
that looked at why many men have such reservations about going to the doctor. I
thought some of these stats were pretty fascinating:
going to the doctor:
tells us A LOT, and although it’s a bit humorous, it doesn’t solve the problem
of how to get the important guy in your life to “man-up” and go to a doctor
when he should.
sensitive to how he probably feels about the possibility of having health
issues, there are a few ways you can broach this topic and encourage him to get
a check-up or treatment for what is bothering him:
I understand that it can be hard to convince
a man to do something he’s had an aversion to for most of his life, but it is
also possible to find new ways to get through to him to help him stay on top of
his health. Since nagging usually isn’t an effective strategy—and stresses out
both of you—looking at it from his perspective and using that insight to help
him deal with his concerns and fears in a compassionate way, just might be the
trick to getting him to pick up the phone and schedule that long-overdue physical!
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