Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
My husband is a couch potato. When we retired and bought our fifth wheel trailer I thought we were headed off to explore the country. I love to walk and I make sure we camp near hiking or biking trails or scenic areas where we can explore on foot. My husband is in good physical shape, but has no interest in hiking in these areas we visit. He just wants to watch his stupid TV. The most exercise he gets is adjusting his satellite dish. He could do that at home. How do I get him off the couch?
--NASCAR widow in Winslow
Let me start by saying, “There is nothing abnormal about watching TV and acting much the same way on the road as you would at home.” That said, there can be a point of boob tube addiction. If you look forward to hiking and physical activity, it makes it that much more enjoyable. It just doesn’t turn some people on. Those people need to work at it. Your husband may be in that category. I would explain to him the fact that aging will catch up to him very quickly if he doesn’t move a bit more. “Use it or lose it.” I have known many people in my life that retired and did absolutely nothing. Most died from boredom, others from sedentary lifestyle disease. A healthy relationship should include doing things with your partner you may not enjoy as much as they do. That could mean in your case that you learn some NASCAR lingo like “trading paint,” and your husband works his way up to doing a three-mile hike to a scenic overlook. Retirement and RV travel are all about doing the things and exploring the places you have always dreamed about. That can take some teamwork. If he isn’t into all the hiking activity that you are, find a group to join. In most areas you can connect with other birders, ranger walks, historic tours etc. For his own good, do get him to agree to more physical activity. In the long run it will be good for both of you. He doesn’t have to take up jogging. Photography, birding, paddling, hunting, metal detecting and dozens of other interests can get people motivated to get off the couch, out of the rig, and discover there is exercise more enjoyable and exhilarating than channel surfing.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink