Bottom line up front: Any ideas for healing over a relationship if you screwed up because of your primal success?
An earlier question got me thinking about my situation. I first played with Paleo in 2006 after reading Cordain's "Paleo Diet". I was turned on by an article in Runners World.
I was living as a geographic bachelor so it was fairly easy to be Paleo. When we began to live together again I fell of the wagon BIG TIME.
In January I made the decision to go back and I am committed that this is my life henceforth. My wife and I joke that we now have a "food divorce". Sadly I think I have blown it with her. My success, (lost 30 pounds and have better regulated moods) put her off because I frequently pontificate to those who have questions.
Further she chastises me because I believe that Paleo is the "only way to go". Any ideas?
You might want to approach Paleo the same way as you would a religion. MikeD's point about how we're true believers leads me to observe that Paleo converts aren't much different in behavior from born-again Christians. We often incorrectly believe that given enough facts, figures, and scientific studies, that any person should follow the logic and convert to the Paleo Diet. But obviously it doesn't happen. Instead, what's actually happening is that you're attempting to change your wife's belief system: her beliefs about what is good and evil, in her food choices.
So put yourself in your wife's shoes: if your wife were trying to convert you to another religion and she talked about it constantly, and kept proclaiming how much better your life would be if you'd only convert, well, it's easy to imagine how irritated and resistant you'd be as well. Moreover, the implied sentiment behind the statement "Your life would be so much better" is that she is inferior to you for not choosing Paleo and more importantly, that you don't respect her decisions. And that will make her defensive and resistant.
What's the answer? It seems like the relationship is a little strained as a consequence. You need to take a good hard look at the way you feel about your wife in terms of her eating habits. Yes, you have great health, but your wife needs to know that you respect her beliefs and her decisions. More importantly, show her that you respect her decision to not go Paleo, even if you don't agree with the decision itself.
So take Paleo off the table. Stop talking about it with your friends, with her. And stop with the food divorce; you both are isolating yourselves during what is a quintessential human experience: the preparing and eating of food with loved ones. This isolation basically reinforces the sentiment "You're on your own; do what you want." That's not a good sentiment in any aspect of a marriage, which should be about teamwork. So show in your actions that you support her decision by helping her prepare her half of the meal ("Want me to boil up some pasta for you?), and ask for her help in preparing yours ("Can you help me out by chopping up some asparagus?"). Then when you eat, offer her bites off your plate and have bites off her plate, YES, even the pasta! If you're taking one for the team to show her you care, it's not a hard sacrifice to make.
I hope that helps. My husband was the first to convert to Paleo and it wasn't until he took Paleo off the table, that I became interested and willing to learn.
I had a similar experience with my wife. Simply put, she thought that because I'm so strict, and can be a little soapbox-y that I was judging her. I think it's important to help your significant other understand that you don't want to force them into anything they don't want to do, that you don't judge them, that you love them the way they are, and want what is best for them. I had to learn how to not treat her like everyone else; she is special, and deserves to be set apart (especially from my paleo food "suggestions"!).
For us, I just have to make sure that she feels loved and valued despite any dietary decisions she makes- No judgment at home!
First, apologize sincerely (as Eva said). Be nice, be gracious, be polite. Answer questions only to the level appropriate to the questioner and only when they ask. I would think it would be okay when apologizing to offer a short (elevator-speech-length) explanation of why you eat what you do eat. However, I would avoid saying why you don't eat what you don't eat since this is where I think most people start to feel defensive.
Remember, honey is paleo, vinegar is neo. :-)
I would absolutely not go with Stephen-Aegis' answer. If my SO tried that with me- nuh-uh, nothing doing. I'd feel offended that my SO missed the point so blatantly.
I don't think that what you're going through is about paleo, per se. It's about her reaction to your new lifestyle. Sure, jealousy might play a part of it, but it's probably as much the fact that she might feel preached to, or that you're "spoiling" social interactions (either through your pontification, or refusing certain foods/drinks/activities, etc).
Sit down and talk with her about how she feels. Be honest about how you feel- emotionally and physically. If it helps (you or her) reframe it- how would you feel if she suddenly picked up a religion that significantly changed her (looks, behavior, social interactions)? How would you feel if she got into doing raw vegan, and it did for her what it did for you?
This isn't about paleo. This is about how you two are interacting right now.
I know it's hard not to pontificate. But try. Also helps if you are not a nazi about every little thing. A spoonful of ranch with canola oil is not THAT big a deal. It's probably fairly easy for most people to do 80% paleo. Try for that instead of diehard perfection. Emphasize the positive. Do not harp on the negative. Also remember, we don't know everything yet. Even paleo eaters will probably learn more and tweak the diet in the future. Also, another piece of advice for men everywhere, say you are sorry! (and learn how to say it properly without including a sentence about how it is part her fault or somesuch..)
I personally would be unable to live with someone eating a toxic diet. Not only having to put up with that, but having to watch a loved one slowly poison themselves and know that I'm likely going to outlive them.
If you want to keep the relationship regardless, I'd suggest a 30 day compromise.
For 30 days, she eats strict paleo(not fruitsugar faleo either), for those same 30 days you don't talk about it at all except to help her stay the course.
If after 30 days she doesn't look and feel better. Have a concession about talking about it in front of her. If she does look/feel better(as the greater majority of SAD humans do) then win win
This is going to be tough.
For people into health and fitness, lifestyle choices are a big deal. It's not comforting to spend a lot of your effort on being healthy, and then watch your spouse or mate do the opposite. You start to wonder, 40 years form now when I look like Art De Vany and enjoy being healthy and active, will my significant other be terribly ill and sedentary?
I think your only hope is to gradually convince them to see things your way and maybe "convert" them in a manner of speaking.
I hate to say it, but something like this can be as difficult, like with people having very difficult religious beliefs trying to work it out. And some people practically worship bread.
My sudden switch to paleo initially caused a very negative reaction from my wife. In her defense - I caused the situation. From the time we first met neither of us ever gave much thought to food quality - SAD and SADder... I went from running to Taco Bell to get us a bunch of tacos and two large Mt. Dews to strict paleo pretty much over one weekend. I also suddenly didn't want any of the pasta, rice, or other side-dishes she'd customarily cook. I started down a path of trying to get her to join me and I hit the same problem I think you're facing. The pressure pushed her farther from my position than closer.
So I stopped. I accepted a temporary "food divorce" as you put it. I did my thing, she ate whatever she wanted and I tried not to make faces when she'd continue drinking Mt. Dews (not easy).
Six months later she started coming around. She's now about 80% paleo - not as strict as I am but WAY better than the way she was eating. Not surprisingly, she's dropped about 25lbs now (2-3 months later) and she's starting to appreciate the changes.
Good ideas are hard to resist long term if they aren't shoved down our throats (no pun intended). Don't add pressure, that will only slow things down.
Luckily my husband is at least supportive. My mother on the other hand... she approves of whole food, but thinks saturated fat is evil and beans are wonderful. I spent the week with her at a family vacation a month ago, and we argued non-stop on the cooking. We had been given some venison meat from a hunter relative, and she promptly threw it into a chili with tons of beans. >:| Later in the week she relented enough to buy me some sweet potatoes, so I made us some hash browns. She came in to help, turned the stove on, asked what oil I wanted to use. I said either butter or olive oil (the best options in the house) she goes, "oh don't be silly," and pours CORN OIL in, and dumps my lovely grated sweet potatoes in before I can even start arguing. :*( Anyway, sorry this is more of a vent than an actual answer. I guess it's different when you aren't living with a person year-round, but my best success was with simple statements rather than holier-than-thou arguments... like pointing out that beans have lectins in them and are bad for rheumatoid arthritis, and letting her do the follow up if she so desired. The snarky comments ("How do you squeeze OIL out of CORN?") seemed less successful, though they made me feel better.