Dear Birdy: My Spouse Loves Meat!
My wife refuses to go plant based with me. I know I can’t force someone to be vegan, but she is nearly boasting about it, and eats way more meat and cheese than she did before. I don’t know if it’s like a child rebelling, or she is genuinely being argumentative. It’s as if she is taking it personally that I won’t eat animals anymore. Is there some sort of boundary that we can set up, so I don’t feel so insulted, and she doesn’t feel like I’m demanding she ditch the dairy?
D from New York
There’s an old, sexist quote by H. M. Harwood that goes “Men marry women with the hope they will never change. Women marry men with the hope they will change. Invariably they are both disappointed”. He’s wrong about the stereotypes, but there’s something to be said about each person in a relationship taking turns changing while the other writhes with worry and contempt. I remember, years ago, I decided to give up alcohol for a month to try and lose some weight. My boyfriend, who drank too much, reacted so poorly. He was so fearful I was judging him or would force him to join me, that it catapulted us into our eventual breakup. So much for bettering myself.
Now, years later, my (different and much healthier) partner recently decided to start working out. He’s waking up at 5am to exercise in our extra bedroom, which he’s turned into a home gym in a matter of just a few Amazon shipments. And the change, in habit and pectoral size, really scares me. Does he want me to exercise more? Will I ever be enough? Who am I really? This is not my beautiful house! I’m understanding how it feels to watch someone change, and it’s not always fun.
By the sound of it, you’ve only recently made the decision to go vegan; apologies if that’s not the case. It’s the right thing to do, by all accounts. You’re saving the lives of animals, helping the environment and potentially adding years to your life and, therefore, your marriage. And I bet it scares the crap out of your wife. It’s always easier to be the one changing than to be the one watching your partner do it.
It doesn’t make sense to chronic fixers, like myself, when my partner doesn’t want to immediately join my manic self-improvement journey. However it’s something we must respect. That means giving the people we love the space and time to make their own decisions. Just because they’re closer in physical and emotional proximity to us doesn’t mean it’s any more important for them to go vegan than it is for the rest of the world. She’s not a child rebelling, she’s your adult wife who is deserving of your admiration. Since you’re comparing her to an argumentative kid, you won’t find her to be very accommodating, and I can’t say I blame her.
That said, marriages between people with different ethical codes can be complicated, especially if children are involved. Since it sounds like you’re committed to her despite the recent animosity, I suggest that you both sit down to work out a social contract. You must agree to not coerce, threaten or guilt her into following veganism. (pro tip: it never really works in the long run anyway), and she’s got to lay off the boasting too.
Malcom Gladwell describes contempt as one of the biggest signs a marriage is in trouble. If you are committed, you’ll work to turn this around. Give her some time. Work on changing your perspective about her refusal to ‘ditch the dairy’. Try to reframe this tough situation into a way to gain some insight into your individual needs. Hopefully, she’ll find veganism on her own. As her husband, you must choose to soften-up and place your marriage ahead of your wish for her to go vegan. In the meantime, learning some stellar vegan dessert recipes can always help!
Best of Luck,
A Note From The Raise Vegan Staff
Don’t forget to check out the Facebook Group Vegan Eats For Smaller Feet, for some great ideas on easy peasy meal ideas for that amazing plant based family! If you’re looking for other like minded parents, we have the main group, Vegan Pregnancy and Parenting, over thirty thousand parents, all Raising Vegan! From homeschooling, to food and everything in between. We have you covered for every over asked question that may come your way. Check out articles such as Support Versus Judgment, How To Deal With It and Parenting Choices We Have To Make.
Raising children vegan is sometime wrought with worries about nutrition, and doubts from outside influences. You are doing an amazing thing for your kids, the planet, and most importantly, the animals. We thank you, we are grateful to you, and we admire you! Keep on rocking vegan parents, we are changing the world together!
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