7 Steps to Keep Your Hobbies and Marriage Intact
By Nicola Beer, International Relationship Coach
Note: The names have been changed to protect the true identity of the Individuals that are being discussed in this article.
Jack and Jane were a couple who came for marriage counseling, as they were constantly fighting over Jane's love of fashion and the financial cost of her shopping sprees, her husband Jack couldn't keep up with it and thought that there were far more important things to be spending money on. Jane felt hurt that Jack didn't try to understand her passion and angry as he spent plenty of money out 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.
Martha and James, another couple that sought marriage counseling to save their marriage, were also struggling to see eye to eye over the amount of time James 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 Martha 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.
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.
Here are 7 Steps to Keep Your Hobbies and Marriage Intact - Save Your Marriage
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 to accept 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 Jane explained to Jack, that he was benefitting 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 Martha of James’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 rather 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 yourselves what is it 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 what precisely what is on your mind so you can move forward and compromise. Be vulnerable and you will reap the rewards! Rather than say “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.
P.S. If you feel hobbies have already come between you and you are barely communicating. Then I recommend you focus on 4 things to get back to a good place:
1) Affection, 2) Appreciation, 3) Intimacy and 4) a Joint Activity... this will lead to a deeper connection, so communication can improve.
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