Dear Dr. Glick:
My husband is diabetic and has been told over and over by the doctor to watch his diet, to eat small amounts frequently, and to monitor his blood sugar level regularly. The doctor has warned him that if he isn’t careful, he could easily end up having a limb amputated or, God forbid, dying! I keep warning him, but he doesn’t seem to care. When I see him eating cake or ice cream, I grab it away and scream at him. He just keeps doing it. He very frequently forgets his doctor’s appointments, so that I now keep track of the appointments. It doesn’t help.His excuses are that he forgot, got tied up, fell asleep, etc. What should I do? He is driving me crazy. Even if he doesn’t care about himself, what about our kids? Please help!
So Fed Up
Dear So Fed Up:
The question you are asking is: How can I get someone to do something that he won’t, or can’t do himself? You could try to convince him. You could try to encourage him. You could try to force him. Sometimes you can try to get someone else to influence him. But unless you have total control over that person, in the final analysis, you cannot do anything. If he truly wants to change, but can’t, you could try to find a way to help him.
That is often the situation with regard to addictions. But even then, no matter how much you want to or need to, you cannot change someone against his will or ability. I am assuming that is the situation you are in. It is a frightening, helpless place to be. Sometimes it is possible to convince, or cajole, someone to go for help. Most of the time that is not possible, and even if it is, it is usually not helpful. So that leaves you with the question of what you can do. That’s the question that people have always struggled with in every aspect of life.
Obviously you should try all of the things that you, or anyone else, can think of. When you find that nothing else helps, you need to stop trying. Continuing to try to change something you can’t, destroys whatever goodness you can have in life. This is slightly analogous to terribly hating yourself for being overweight. You try and try, but keep gaining weight. If that is your situation, you can constantly be angry with yourself, and get more and more depressed. That doesn’t help you lose weight, it just makes you miserable! It would be far better if you would accept the fact that despite all of your intentions, you aren’t losing weight, and stop thinking about it. Focus, instead, on taking care of your appearance and becoming the best person you can be.
Try to encourage your husband to do what helps him, even if it is totally inadequate. Then focus on making your marriage and life as good as it can be. Stop fighting him; it doesn’t work. And then shift your attention to making your relationship with your husband and family as good as it can be. Try to build things that you’ve had, try to encourage things that you might be able to achieve, try to increase family activities and try to help him build his relationship with his children. It doesn’t solve your problem, but it makes life much better.
Mordechai Glick, Ph.D.
Rabbi Dr. Mordechai Glick was a clinical psychologist in private practice in Montreal for 35 years as well as a Rabbi at Congregation Ahavat Yisroel. He can be reached at: mordechaiglick_gmail.com
By Rabbi Dr. Mordechai Glick,