Painting, fishing, bodybuilding, crocheting, gaming, shopping, skiing, and the list goes on. And on. And on.
Life offers us opportunities to learn and participate in so many wonderful activities and interests (alone or with others) that can fill our days with meaningful, happy, and interesting experiences.
However, it is all too easy to become passionate (or obsessed) with one hobby, all at the expense of other more important priorities in our lives.
So, what do you do when your spouse cares more about their hobby than they do about you?
You may relate with some of the following examples…
Andrea came home from work to be greeted by her husband, who didn’t look up from his video game, but did manage to squeak out an honest, “Hey, how are you?” to her as she walked into the kitchen. It was the same routine. He worked an early morning shift and got home earlier than she did. She didn’t know why it bugged her so much that he was always playing video games when she came home – it was his time to unwind after a long day, after all – but it bugged her. A lot.
Rob and his wife of thirty years were happily married with four kids. They had moved around a lot and had recently settled into their dream home. His wife, Michelle, had recently found a new group of runners in the area who were all training for upcoming races. She needed friends, and this new group welcomed her immediately. Michelle would get up early every morning to run with her friends, and often spent hours on Saturdays training with them.
Rob was starting to feel unsettled about this new running group. He thought perhaps it was due to his own insecurity, since the group had a lot of men in it. Men who shared his wife’s passion for running, and men who were a lot more fit than he was. He didn’t want to be possessive and tell Michelle that he didn’t like her spending so much time with her running friends, but he was starting to feel disconnected in his marriage and was worried about what to do. Michelle seemed so happy, and she was doing what she loved, should he really try and stop her? She had found people to connect with, to talk with, and to run with.
Rob felt an inner turmoil about what to do, but he was starting to feel like Michelle didn’t even need him anymore.
Beth was fed up with her husband’s hunting “obsession,” as she called it. He was gone, it seemed, every other weekend for three months out of the year. He spent all of his free time reading hunting, talking hunting, and thinking about hunting. Plus, he spent a LOT of their money on hunting gear, garb, and the like. Beth had tried to be supportive, encouraging him for the past thirteen years of marriage to pursue what he loved, but it had just become too much. She was tired, lonely, and feeling left out. Last year she had decided to try and get into hunting herself, but her husband didn’t seem to want to share his hobby with her. He said it was “his thing,” to do with his friends. She was hopeless, frustrated, and ready to put an end to either the hunting, or their marriage.
Continued without communication or change, these scenarios could possibly lead to addiction, affairs, and/or divorce, but they don’t have to!
If you or your spouse have found that your hobbies are taking over, it is time to re-evaluate and take a good, deep look at those priorities of yours.
WHAT CAN YOU DO IF HOBBIES ARE THREATENING TO TAKE OVER YOUR MARRIAGE?
- Nurture your marriage.
What is most important to you and why? If it is your hobby, then your marriage may be lacking the nurturing it currently needs.
First things first. Give your marriage and your spouse your best time, your best attention, and your very best self. Share with your spouse instead of your running buddy. Make date night, getaways, and talk ritualsmandatory.
2. Find shared interests and hobbies.
You need to work at creating shared interests and hobbies – and finding things you both love to do together. There will be nothing better for your marriage than developing shared interests and hobbies. As you spend time together side by side, doing what you both love, your relationship will thrive and your friendship will blossom.
The sad part in the examples above is that for Andrea & Rob, they hadn’t even let their spouse know that his/her hobby was starting to really bug and worry them. Beth had expressed her frustration many a time, but not in the most positive way (Which drove her husband towards hunting even more, where he could be away from his nagging, needy wife!).
Problems come when couples don’t communicate about or set boundaries regarding personal hobbies and interests. Communicateoften about how each of you feel about your personal hobbies, about how much time each of you will spend on your individual hobbies, and about who you will be spending that time with. You both need to feel comfortable and safe with the situation. You may need to set some boundaries to help you both feel safe and connected, even when you are apart.
- Make connection a priority.
In all of these scenarios, Andrea, Rob & Beth were feeling like their spouse’s hobby was taking priority over their marriage relationship. They were feeling lonely, hurt, or frustrated about the time and attention they were (or rather, weren’t) getting from their spouse, and were starting to feel like hobbies were going to mean the downfall of their marriages.
Andrea, Rob & Beth lacked connection in their marriages. And interestingly enough, their spouses were probably turning to the their hobbies in order to have some of their needs met, too. Lack of connection, lack of fulfillment, and other “needs” that aren’t met can distance spouses from each other if they aren’t intentional, mindful, and careful about their relationship.
Often, when people say their spouse cares more about their hobby than their marriage, what they are really saying is that they feel far, far away from their spouse. Hobbies threaten to overtake and ruin marriages when they cause spouses to feel disconnected and distanced from each other.
You can make efforts to connect with your spouse by learning your spouse’s love language, understanding his and her needs, taking time to talk, and creating special rituals of connection.
5. Finally, please remember that personal hobbies are important.
So your husband loves watching golf and you hate it. Let him have his golf time. Ask him if he wants you to pick up his favorite sandwich while he watches the big tournament. Or perhaps your wife loves to paint while listening to classical music. Encourage her to pursue her hobby and make sure she has time for it.
As you encourage each other in your hobbies, you will be more renewed, refreshed, and happy – for each other.
Please know that this article isn’t saying that personal hobbies in marriage are inherently bad, because they aren’t. However, they can only be good for a marriage when they take their rightful place in each spouse’s list of priorities.
As you make connection a high priority in your marriage, your hobbies will find their rightful place in your life – where they don’t dominate your life, and they aren’t swept under the rug, either – and you will find that you and your spouse both feel more connected, more fulfilled, and more happy as you figure out this thing called “marriage.”