It can be difficult if you or your partner have a hobby you passionately embrace and the other one sees it as nothing but an intrusion. Yet it is critical to reach a compromise to prevent frustration and resentment from building, as resentment can often lead to angry silence, withdrawal or explosive rows.
Ian and Kim were a couple who came in for marriage counseling, as they were constantly fighting over Kim's love of fashion and the financial cost of her shopping sprees, her husband Ian couldn't keep up with it and thought that there were far more important things to be spending money on. Kim felt hurt that Ian didn't try to understand her passion and angry as he spent plenty of money on socializing and drinking. They came to save their marriage, as after years of not understanding each other's interests they had grown so far apart, they were living separate lives under the same roof.
Reshma and Binod, another couple that sought marriage counseling to save their marriage, were also struggling to see eye to eye over the amount of time Binod would spend watching cricket, tennis and football on TV. Any game, any time of day when he wasn't working he would want to sit and watch TV, this drove Reshma crazy. She was concerned what that would teach their 3 children and annoyed he didn't seem interested or make an effort for family time.
Here are 7 steps to help keep your hobbies and marriage intact
1. Recognize we all have hobbies. I've noticed, working with many couples, that on average men tended to have one hobby that takes up a lot of their time and women had several activities (which they weren't counting as hobbies). For instance, I love to run, swim, practice yoga, write, dance, cook and try alternative healing courses. None of these hobbies individually take up much of my time, but collectively they add up to be more than some of the most consuming hobbies.
2. Ensure you both have hobbies. Expecting your partner to be your hobby or vice versa can be a recipe for disaster. It's just like expecting them to make YOU happy, only YOU can do that. If your spouse is having difficulty accepting your hobbies and have none of their own, help them to find something enjoyable and stress-relieving.
3. Find the good. We tend to love our hobbies. To us they are noble, important and engaging. If you think your spouse's hobby is silly, trivial or dumb or they say the same about yours, you are judging each other, when you need to be supporting each other.
Look for the good in each other's hobbies. For example, Kim explained to Ian that he was benefiting from her fashion and make up passion as she always looked good and took care of her appearance, which he always complimented her on.
The benefit to Reshma of Binod's hobby was that he could play with the children and watch TV at the same time, so she could get on and do things she needed and liked to do. Plus, she was grateful that his hobby was not a financial burden to them.
4. Accept all hobbies, as they are part of who we are. When we reject the hobbies of our partners or they reject ours, we are in some way rejecting a part of each other. As our hobbies make us who we are and for most of us are a source of stress relief and happiness. Would you prefer a grumpy, bored spouse with plenty of time or a happy, content spouse with a hobby? I'd choose the second.
5. Learn about each other's hobbies. I love the statement "If you can't beat them, join them!" I think this is a great approach in marriage to learn more about each other's passions. It will enhance your conversation and connection even better if you can join them.
6. Always have at least one hobby you share. Find a hobby you look forward to doing together. This will help you become closer and strengthen your relationship. If we engage in all our hobbies without our spouse, we miss the opportunity for the fun and excitement to be brought into the marriage.
7. Talk about your boundaries. Despite the above, we all have boundaries. Think about what you both really need to be happy. Chances are, it's often not the hobby that really bothers us. It's the time or money spent on it, especially if the time or money isn't being spent on something else important to us!
Ask yourself what it is that bothers you? Could it be you want more time as a family? More intimacy, affection or appreciation? Are you concerned financially that you won't have enough money for the car, holiday or children's needs?
Learn to share precisely what is on your mind so you can move forward and compromise. Be vulnerable and you will reap the rewards!
Rather than saying, "I hate you doing that stupid hobby", instead say, "I miss being with you and would love to spend more time together".
Or if your partner has a problem with your hobby, ask them lovingly what concerns they have. Then work out a compromise that suits you both and fits in with the family.
Hobbies can help a marriage if the right balance is struck. Aim to support one another and speak up if you need to.
From my heart to yours, Nicola
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