As one half of a whole, there will always be times in a relationship when you and your partner don’t see eye-to-eye. Whether that involves finances or parenting techniques, it’s simply impossible to agree on everything all the time. It comes with the territory of having a significant other—your life is no longer just about you. When the disagreement involves something like mold exposure and your health, that’s when things get dicey. Getting your partner on board with mold, a little-discussed, massively misunderstood, and expensive topic, may be one of the biggest hurdles in a relationship.
But, it’s one that you can work to overcome!
A Simple Breakdown of the Problem
Feeling ill and not having an answer as to why can be a physically draining and emotionally exhausting experience. Unfortunately, that happens all too often with mold. We, as a society, rarely discuss indoor mold growth and the effects it can have on health. To make matters worse, environmental exposures like mold aren’t typically included by medical professionals when they’re attempting to make a diagnosis. These issues lead to a prolonged process that oftentimes seems like there’s no end in sight.
The entire process can be one giant mess of obstacles, being told you’re crazy, or treatment plans that don’t work. When it’s affecting your children as well, that makes the situation that much worse. Eventually, you’ll probably feel overwhelmed and lost. All you want are answers and someone to help you and your family heal, but the journey towards wellness seems impossible.
When a lightbulb moment occurs and a potential answer to your troubles comes your way, you’re probably going to want to dive right in and explore the idea. Even if it’s a topic you’ve never heard of before, like mold exposure. You’re in the trenches of feeling chronically sick, so your mind is already open to fixing whatever it is that’s wrong, no matter how you have to do it.
Coordinating this desire for action doesn’t always translate to others, though. While you want to full throttle in investigating this suspected or recently discovered culprit, getting your partner on board with mold may be more challenging. It has been for many, many others!
There’s a high cost involved with remediation and medical bills, a general lack of mold awareness to overcome, empathetic hurdles to cross, and communication issues to parse out. If they don’t feel the effects of exposure, getting them on the same page can be even more challenging. But, it's not impossible!
The main aspect to remember is that you are not alone in this experience. Others have gone through similar situations and made it to the other side. The key is to work with your partner to help get them on the same page. When you’re feeling ill, this might seem like yet another difficult task on your plate, but having them in your corner can help lessen the burden of this life-changing event. Not to mention, it will help alleviate the relationship tension, reduce resentment, and help avoid other pitfalls.
Getting your partner on board with mold will look different for everyone, but following the steps below is a great place to start building a solid foundation.
1. Become an Expert
The first step towards getting your partner on board with mold is to become a mold aficionado. Like most people, they’re probably woefully unaware of mold and the health effects of exposure. They’ll have questions just like you did. Jumping into a conversation without fully understanding the issue, or being unable to answer their questions, can set you up for unnecessary frustration and open the door to doubt. In the end, it may make them less inclined to back your decisions to remove the mold and begin detoxing.
Not to mention, if they’re not experiencing symptoms, it’s difficult to feel sympathy and compassion for something you don’t understand. They’re going to need that extra help, information, and assurance to get over this mental hurdle.
To help set yourself up for success and to show them how much this means to you, dive into getting the answers before starting the conversation. Whether this involves your own research or contacting an expert for a consultation, figure out what it is that you are battling so that you can better explain it to your partner.
Key points to look for are:
- What exactly is mold?
- What are the misconceptions about mold?
- How does mold begin to grow in a home?
- How can mold affect health and what are some of the symptoms?
- How do you test your home for mold?
- What’s the process of mold removal?
- Which company should you choose for remediation?
- How do you detox your body from mold?
- What doctors can help you?
- What does your insurance cover concerning mold growth?
These are just a few example questions, but the idea is to gather as much information as possible about this little-discussed topic. It may seem like information overload at some points, so make sure to keep all of your research organized and continue to tackle one question at a time. When in doubt, seek out professional help! But, make sure they’re qualified, know what they’re talking about, and have your health as their top priority.
Chatting with others about their experiences is a great way to set the stage as well. See what they went through, what they would have changed, what they wish they had known before, and how they worked with their spouse to solve the mold problem. By becoming an information hub, you can show your partner how serious you are about this issue and help them overcome any brain hurdles they experience.
Creating mold awareness will also help you tremendously during the mold removal process. You’ll know what to expect before the remediation team even walks through your front door.
2. Decide What You Need From Your Partner
This may seem silly, but trust the process!
Before going to your partner and explaining your plan of action (if they haven’t been involved yet) sit down and decide what you want from them. Do you want to leave the house? Is hiring a mold inspector the top priority? Are you seeking emotional support? List out everything you’re hoping to achieve.
When you understand exactly what it is you’re looking for, you’ll be better able to guide the conversation, articulate how they can help you, and alleviate a lot of the ambiguity. That’s typically one of the hardest parts! The ultimate goal is to give them a roadmap of what’s going on in your head: what your concerns are, how you’re feeling emotionally and physically, and the steps you’d like to take to overcome this life obstacle. By the end of the conversation, they should fully understand how passionate you are about either seeing if there is a mold problem or getting rid of a recently discovered one.
Combine your goals with your research and make sure you have a solid foundation for starting this chat with your partner. If there are any information gaps, make sure to fill them in before beginning the process of getting your partner on board with mold.
3. Prepare for the First Conversation About Getting Your Partner on Board With Mold
The initial conversation is often the worst part. The key part to remember during the entire process is to reign in the emotions and try not to get angry or lash out. The whole point of the talk is to get both of you on the same page. That foundation will not be built by frustration; it will only lead to disappointment.
A few tips before going into this conversation are:
a) Schedule a time to chat with them.
b) Don’t go into it trying to be right.
c) Come prepared with your research.
d) Have a clear picture of the message you’re trying to convey.
e) Recognize that you are not your usual self right now, so try to remain calm.
f) Be ready to hear them out.
Learning how to communicate effectively is often one of the hardest parts of being human. We’re emotionally driven, and especially in this tumultuous climate, we’re not always the best at listening to others, practicing empathy, and compromising. It’s a "my way or the highway" world out there, which doesn’t always lead to healthy relationship practices. Your partner may struggle to overcome these hurdles, so it’s up to you initially to set the tone and start this journey off on the right foot.
Have a plan in place and try your best to stay level-headed, even though you don’t feel well. Just remember what the goals are and remind yourself that you and your partner are a team. Together, you can overcome mold exposure and get your lives back on track. That all starts with completely open communication so that you both understand each other’s points of view and can work to unify and overcome the obstacle. Plus, they agreed to love you unconditionally, and this counts as one of those times!
4. Start the Dialogue to Initiate Change
First things first: begin the journey on the right foot. Don’t just jump right in and demand action. No one responds well if they feel like they’ve been cornered. Instead, be open and loving. Concisely and gently explain the problem to them and show them all of your research.
Keep in mind that the human brain cannot process an abundance of information, so don’t overwhelm them with data!
Just let them know you did your homework and that you can answer most of the questions they have. Reassure them that this isn’t some far-fetched idea and that you’re prepared to tackle the challenge that is mold. It’s something that you need to achieve because it’s your health that’s being affected.
Pay attention to your non-verbal cues during this time as well. Keep yourself open, be non-confrontational, and wear your heart on your sleeve. Do not close down or demand certain things to happen at a certain time. The whole point is to ease them into this topic because chances are, they have no clue mold can be this much of a problem. You had time to acclimate to the idea and you're experiencing the wide-ranging effects of exposure; they’ve had no time and they might not be feeling any symptoms. The conversation may challenge their personal views, it may spark feelings of guilt and fear, and it may leave them reeling as they try to catch up. Mold is a difficult pill to swallow!
That being said, if the conversation absolutely isn’t going anywhere, or if they’re being particularly difficult to speak to, consider going to a therapist to help referee the conversation and help you both get through it. Sometimes you need a little help to get through a particularly tough situation in a relationship, and mold definitely counts as one of those instances.
While this process is great for that initial conversation, it’s also a good idea to continue it as your mold journey progresses. Chances are, there will be a lot of hiccups and many more conversations with your spouse that follow.
5. Put Your Listening Ears On While Getting Your Partner on Board With Mold
Getting your partner on board with mold also involves the other half of communication: listening. Hear them out, no matter what their initial thoughts are. Channel your inner empath and try to make yourself understand what they’re saying and how they’re feeling. Ask them questions about what their fears are, why they may not believe mold is a problem, any hangups they have about the situation, and anything else you can think of to dig deeper inside your head. They could be battling mold removal and the truth about mold for hundreds of reasons, but you’ll never be able to work through them if you don’t know what they are in the first place.
By getting into the nitty-gritty of their concerns, you’ll know what you need to do to start getting your partner on board with mold. Are they concerned about finances? That’s okay, together you can come up with a plan to budget in detoxing and remediation. Do they feel guilty that the culprit could be right there in their home? We parents take on a huge burden when it comes to our kids. Bringing them into a house full of mold may give us a huge weight of unfulfilled responsibility that’s hard to face. First of all, mold growth and the effects of exposure are not your fault!
This situation can happen to anyone, and you’ve got to remind your partner of that. Shouldering these emotions like guilt may manifest as denial or pushback.
As mentioned earlier, the main goal is to get you both on the same page, which involves a full understanding of what’s going through your partner’s head. So, make sure to not interrupt them and really consider what they’re saying. Figure out how to address their concerns calmly and what you can both do to work together to get you on the path to healing.
Take a break if you have to as well. Indoor mold growth can be a doozy of an experience and one that’s difficult to wrap your head around. If you or your partner begin to get frustrated, take a step back for a moment to cool off and further process what’s going on. Every person and relationship is different! Some individuals are more stubborn than others, and that’s okay. Just continue to remember that you love each other, you became partners for a reason, both of your happiness and feelings matter, and that you’ve managed to work together to tackle whatever trouble life threw your way.
6. Remain Vulnerable During The Entire Process of Getting Your Partner on Board With Mold
Getting into an emotional rut and an everyday schedule can be easy. We’re so busy getting through the day that we sometimes forget to open up with our partner and have deep conversations or have a full-on feelings session. That’s okay! Life can get crazy. But when it comes to dealing with mold exposure and the physical and psychological toll that takes, it’s about sharing the burden. Your partner may not feel affected, but you do.
They won’t know how you feel if you never let them in, though.
That means you’ve got to be vulnerable. From that initial conversation and then throughout the entire process, give them an open view of how you’re feeling. Put down all of those mental walls and let them see right in. Tell them how exhausted, scared, anxious, etc. you are so that they can understand where you’re coming from. They may not understand how mold can be an issue at first, but they’re your spouse. They agreed to be there for better or worse, richer or poorer. You’re their person, and if said person is in a bad place, their job is to be supportive and help you get through it. In this case, that involves healing the home and healing the body, even if they think it’s crazy! That's the beauty of having a partner—they’re the one that’s always in your corner. By opening up, they’ll be able to see how much this experience is affecting you. Hopefully, that will be one of the pieces needed to help them get over the mental block of wanting to tackle mold.
7. Set Clear Expectations While Getting Your Partner on Board With Mold
Working together is the ultimate goal, but at the end of the day, your health and your family’s health are on the line. If your partner is struggling to accept the idea that mold is a problem, even after you’ve practiced patience, done the research, and addressed their concerns, you’ve got to let them know that their response will not be tolerated. Reassure them that you’re willing to work with them on this problem, but that inaction is not an option. Mold growth won’t just go away on its own, and neither will those symptoms. They will just continue to fester and get worse as the exposure continues.
Again, dealing with mold is an instance of "for better or worse." Your partner might not get it, they might be stressed, and they might think it’s a non-issue, but they aren’t the only ones in the relationship. It takes two to tango. Ask them to flex that empathetic muscle and give you the support you need. Whatever hurdle they’re experiencing, they’ve actively got to attempt to get over it. Especially if they want to help you heal and get back to your normal self.
8. Maintain Their Involvement in the Process
Another step in getting your partner on board with mold is to involve them in every aspect of the removal and detox process. Bring them in on the conversations with mold inspectors and remediators so that they have a clear idea of what’s going on and why certain actions are being taken. These professionals will be able to answer any questions your partner may have and get rid of some of the ambiguity surrounding mold. The individuals you speak with should know exactly how much indoor mold growth can affect health, and that will translate to your partner during these discussions.
Not to mention, since these statements are coming from experts, their responses may provide an extra layer of validity.
Doctors’ appointments can be another layer of involvement during this process. Hard data showing your partner exactly how much toxicity is in your body or the bodies of your children can be that extra oomph of "why" they need to get through their mental blockages. These numbers will be a visual representation of what exactly is going on, with a doctor there to explain how crucial it is to detox and what exactly it will take to heal. Each discussion is another layer of added support to push for action.
From there, include them in any other details of the experience. Whether that be talking to insurance companies, budget planners, family members, rental management, air quality experts, or whoever, the main point is to involve them in the process. Help them see the bigger picture as to why mold is not something you want in a home. This includes making them feel less isolated, helping them better understand, and addressing their questions and concerns. What better way to do that than to lean on the professionals?
9. Give Them Thanks For Getting Your Partner on Board With Mold
Part of getting your partner on board with mold involves also thanking them, and thanking them often! It’s easy to get consumed with other thoughts when you’re not feeling well or you’re fully concentrated on solving the mold problem. You’re trying so hard to find answers, stay afloat in your daily life, and start down the path to healing, but just as we mentioned earlier, you’re not the only piece of the relationship puzzle.
The experience with mold wasn’t easy for you, and it definitely isn’t easy for your spouse either. As they work to help overcome this problem, better understand the issue, or simply attempt to make the journey easier for you, pull out that vulnerability again. Tell them how much it means to you and show them that you notice how hard they work. Especially if they don’t fully agree or understand what’s going on. The truth is, they’re probably experiencing some aspects of the physical and emotional toll of mold as well, and they too need support. They may just not ask for it.
Not to mention, validation is one of the key aspects of any relationship, whether a mold fiasco is going on or not.
Making them feel appreciated shows that you see them and you care, even during all of the craziness. Maintaining that emotional connection will be pivotal during this challenging time. Focusing on positivity can also help lessen any resentment and continue to keep conversations open, which is a huge part of achieving success.
Above all, though, remind them of what the ultimate goal is and how appreciative you are of them helping you get there. They could have argued and refused, but instead, they’re doing their best to help you both overcome it. That’s a pretty awesome thing, even amid the trauma that is mold.
10. Keep Your Eye on the Prize
Experiencing mold is like walking through fire. There are innumerable hardships, a pile of feelings, and countless hurdles to overcome. That’s why it’s important to create a list of goals you wish to achieve in the beginning and focus on ticking them off one at a time. Keep in mind that every experience with mold is different. Sometimes, you’re not in a position to completely deal with a mold problem as soon as you find out it exists. That’s why mold removal should be tackled one step at a time. You and your partner have to focus on doing what you can do when you can do it, but have a clear image in mind of what the end goal is: a mold-free home and a mold-free body.
Picturing that will help you both get through the trials and tribulations of mold exposure. It’s rarely easy, and it’s emotionally charged, but it is possible. You and your family can heal, and you will begin to feel like normal again. You’ve just got to practice patience, remain determined, and work together as a unit. It may take extra effort sometimes to get in sync with one another, but it’s well worth the work.
Also, continue to remind yourself and your spouse that when you’re living in a toxic house, you are not yourself. Make sure to give each other and yourselves a break as you continue to push through this life experience.
It’s Hard Work, But It’s Worth It
The ultimate goal is to make it to the other side of this life event mold-free, healthy, and together.
Sometimes, that may seem like an insurmountable task, but it’s not impossible. As long as you both remember to love each other throughout the entire process and remind yourselves that working together is what a partnership is about. The list above is a good way to get started, but there are many other steps you can take as well. You know your partner better than anyone, so follow your instincts on this one.
If you’ve got to do it on your own, then start down the path kicking that mold to the curb ASAP. Determination and sheer willpower are going to be your friends here. Just continue to trust your gut, fight for your wellbeing, and keep pushing forward.
Mold is a hard road to travel down, but you will end up on the other side eventually. When you cross that finish line, you’ll be so thankful you pushed through.