Home Q&A Wednesday Q&A Wednesday: He Won’t Stop Complaining When We Work Out!

Q&A Wednesday: He Won’t Stop Complaining When We Work Out!

by Erika Nicole Kendall

Q: Now that I’m more active, I notice that my partner is… well… not. In fact, it seems like the more active I become, the less active he tries to be. He fakes like he wants to do stuff with me, but then complains about it the entire time. IT DRIVES ME NUTS! How do I deal with this without killing him?

A: I think, first and foremost, you have to ask yourself a hard question: is this a serious enough issue that you’re willing to leave your mate over it? If the answer is yes, then just simplify everything and be out. If the answer is no, then recognize that your partner deserves your compassion and understanding, and this should be in the forefront of your mind when dealing with him regarding this issue. You want to get your point and your needs across, but you want to be sensitive to his feelings, too. He does have them, regardless of how he acts, and if you truly want things to work out you’ll remember that hurting their feelings today will result in lots of problems down the road.

Honestly, talks like this have to happen, because the way things are currently is resulting in you feeling some kind of resentment. No matter how petty [you or he may feel] it is, you should feel comfy with sharing your thoughts and feelings, so long as you remember the other side does have feelings, too.

The next time you decide to engage in an activity together and he starts complaining, ask him, “What’s wrong? Do you not want to do this? You don’t have to do this if you don’t want to, [insert pet name].” If you get push back on it, say “No, really… I can tell you’re unhappy, and I don’t want you putting yourself through this if you don’t want to, so really… just go back home, relax, and I’ll be back soon, okay?” and if you get more push back, tell ’em “Alright, now… but if you’re going to stick around, you’ve got to chill with the complaining. None of us truly “loves” putting ourselves through this, but we just suck it up, y’know?”

I feel like people who do things and complain about them the entire time are doing it because they’re not comfortable. They may be uncomfy because they don’t know enough to feel comfy, they may only be doing it because they feel some sort of obligation to do things you obviously enjoy, they may be doing it because they feel like they have to go with you in order to let “the competition” know you’ve already got a significant other in your life… or they may be there begrudgingly because they fear that if they don’t work out, they’ll lose you.

Considering these four reasons, we can take them one by one. If they fear they’ll lose you if they don’t try to work out too, it’s in your best interest to tell your mate that they have nothing to worry about. You’ve already decided, by this point, that you want to maintain your relationship, and it isn’t healthy to have one partner be constantly afraid of losing you for no reason. If you can quelch their concerns, then you should. If you can’t, then that is a-whole-nother issue in and of itself.

If your partner simply believes that they have to let others know that you have a significant other, then you can tell them – often, if necessary – that they have nothing to worry about. On top of boosting their ego a little bit – and who couldn’t use a little ego boost every now and again? – you’ll reassure them to the point where this becomes a non-issue. If it doesn’t become a non-issue, again, that’s a-whole-nother issue in and of itself.

If your partner feels obligated to like the things you like, let ’em know: “Listen, you can try anything I do, but if you don’t like it, you don’t like it… and that’s okay! Trust me – I don’t like your [insert really annoying thing they do] and I love the fact that you don’t make me struggle through it… so I don’t want you to feel like you have to struggle through this.” Two people don’t have to be eternally adjoined at the hip just because they’re in a relationship with one another and it is, in fact, healthy to have interests that don’t involve one another. If you get the “but this is something that I really wanna like!” response… I’d simply come back with “Then you have got to relax with the complaining… I know it’s hard and the learning curve is steep… but that complaining is making it hard to help you out..”

The last one, to me, is the easiest. If your partner’s complaining simply because they don’t really know what’s going on or how to use anything, tell them – “Look, if you want, I can show you the ropes… all you’ve got to do is ask me.” For your partner to admit they don’t know something is a pretty vulnerable place to put themselves in front of you, so you’ve got to be gentle with it. Don’t lord over them and assume they know nothing about exercise. Leave them alone in the gym or on the field, and whenever they’ve got a question, answer that question as thoroughly as possible. Let them know that you can be their resource and that it doesn’t bother you to give them the tools and tips they need today, because tomorrow, it’ll be different questions… or – even better – less questions. It’s an investment – you might have to deal with being A Human Google for now, but eventually they’ll be knowledgeable enough to hold their own during your workouts… and both of you will be more fit for it.

It’s all in how you handle it. You just have to approach the situation calmly, and ready to get down to the bottom of the issue. Let your mate pour their heart out, let them explain and diagnose it accordingly. Being “the fit one” in the relationship has its responsibilities, and one of those responsibilities is acknowledging that while you may have already had your “come to fitness” moment, your partner may not’ve… and you can’t force that on them. All you can do is strive to be the change you wish to see in your mate, and wait patiently. Before you know it, your partner will either slowly come around or learn to give you your space free of their negativity. Just remember that their feelings shouldn’t be ignored, and you shouldn’t try to force anything on them that they don’t want. If you’ve decided to say, you’ve decided that your partner is worth the emotional investment and respect for their feelings. As long as you remember that, very little can go wrong here.

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Marion@affectionforfitness June 8, 2011 - 10:51 PM

I’ve discussed this with many gym buddies. They do not work out with their husbands, mainly because they are doing harder workouts than their guys and because they don’t want to do the same things. Someone has to compromise if you work out together. And, I’m sure not compromising my workout for anyone.

The other issue here is whether any woman can persuade a non-exercising man to change his ways. I remember how stubborn I was about refusing to exercise about 5 years ago. NOBODY, not even famous fitness trainers, could have convinced me to exercise. So don’t get disappointed in yourself or him, it just has to be his personal choice to get fit or it will never last.

I have been working out hard for about 4 1/2 years and my husband is finally coming around to fitness. He’s not the fitness freak I am, but he has been going to the gym with me (we ignore each other as soon as we get there.) So all we can be is role models, and sometimes our influence works!

🙂 Marion

Danielle June 9, 2011 - 2:02 PM

I agree with Marion 100%. I wouldn’t recommend working out with your significant other- but that’s just me.

I think it goes deeper than he’s complaining and it’s annoying though- is it you see him as lazy and no longer physically attractive? (I’m being real here)

My hubby isn’t the most active, and when I started losting weight, at first I was all gung ho about him doing what I was doing since it was important to me and a lifestyle change. But you know, we were both overweight, and he always made me feel like a size 4 Ms Universe when I was chomping on chicken wings sooo I didn’t think it was fair of me to be all self righteous about him not having the same feelings that I did.

That was then, noooowww he’s exercising on his own and eating right because I’ve lost 30 lbs (woot!) and am visibly looking smaller.

The other thing I figured out is that my hubby doesnt want to the same exercises that thing I do. I hope you’re not dragging the poor guy off to Zumba and yoga and wondering why he is complaining 😀

You mentioned also that he is faking wanting to go then complains…Like it sounds like he is trying to please you by saying ‘sure booboo, i would loooove to go to that pilates class that you keep mentioning over and over and over’ but when the fat (his) hits the fan (actually working out) he doesn’t want to.

I hate to sound mean, but you can’t force your come to fitness moment on him and judge him by your standards. It’s like a Born again Christian getting mad at their spouse who goes to church just to keep the peace but complains about the length of the service, etc etc.

I hope it all works out though!

Bannef July 24, 2011 - 10:52 PM

That’s what my mom always said, except about smoking. It doesn’t matter how much the people who loved her hated that she smoked – she had to decide to quit in her own time. And she did, and hasn’t touched them in more than ten years now. 🙂

Perkisha June 10, 2011 - 1:11 PM

Aww, this makes me remember the days I use to whine and complain when my fiancée and I went to the gym 🙁 I must have been so annoying, lol. I especially hated when he would stay there for more than an hour. But now I get up for the gym earlier than him and when he’s ready to leave, I’m like “Dont be rushing me!” lol

I agree with Danielle, you have to give him time to adjust to your new passion and allow him to move on his own fitness journey. Be encouraged because there is still hope that you can enjoy fitness together, you just have to do what works for the two of you. For example, my boo and I go to the gym together, decide on the time we’re going to leave the gym and then work out separately until it’s time to leave.

Renee H. November 20, 2013 - 9:08 AM

Tell him what my old track coach used to say:

Winners TRAIN…losers COMPLAIN!!

Diatta @ Femme Fitale Fit Club May 5, 2014 - 10:55 PM

I honestly feel like people who complain all the time are actually content in their unhappiness and discomfort otherwise they will get fed up and make a change.

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