By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott
Last week, we talked about the importance of sharing hobbies and activities with your spouse. It’s great when the two of you can find common ground and cultivate shared activities, but what happens when your spouse is completely consumed by his or her own hobbies?
While it can make life interesting to be married to someone who is so deeply engaged with an activity they love, it can quickly become difficult. Once the honeymoon period has passed, you might find that your spouse begins to gradually move toward his or her favorite pastime–eventually favoring it over spending time together.
There comes a point in a person’s passion for their hobby when that passion goes beyond a healthy level of interest. A passionate interest can take over their personality and their life (and yours, too!). It can feel totally intimidating when you feel like you have to compete with something your spouse is obsessed with.
If your spouse’s favorite hobby or activity has stolen them from your marriage, it may be time to address the issue and set some boundaries.
APPROACH YOUR SPOUSE ABOUT ALL-CONSUMING HOBBIES
First, be empathic and have respect for your spouse’s interests. Even though you’re feeling upset, it’s important to approach your spouse with care. Chances are, they want to have a healthy relationship too, so speak the truth lovingly as you let them know what you need.
You need to be able to tell your spouse, “I love your hobby, and I’d never ask you to let it go. But it’s almost like you’re absent because your hobby is getting all your good energy.”
Let your spouse know that is feels like the obsession is beginning to take over, and while you want them to continue being able to enjoy their interests, you’re going to need more focused time with them–just the two of you.
Rather than complaining, brainstorm some good suggestions before your approach your spouse. Ask your spouse to block off 1 or 2 nights a week to spend with you, for date night, family movie night, or something similar. This will help them feel like they’ve still got freedom to spend time on their hobby, but now they know what your desires and and what is expected of them.
The biggest payoff for you? You won’t have to worry every night whether you’re going to get any attention from your spouse. You’ll be free to feel more enthusiastic about your spouse’s hobby because you’ll feel like there’s a part of them reserved for you.
TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF
Now that your spouse has agreed to set some time aside to spend with you, it’s time for you to decide how to spend time when they’re occupied with their hobby. When he or she has an activity planned, schedule some time with your friends or take your kids on a fun outing.
Whatever you do, give yourself something to look forward to! Don’t let yourself get bogged down and angry over a list of things your spouse isn’t doing while they’re engaged in their hobby. Fuming about your husband or wife taking time for their hobby isn’t going to do you any good, so find ways to enjoy yourself instead.
And you never know–when you start taking some time to do your own thing while they do theirs, they might even begin to miss you.
LEARN TO SHARE YOUR SPOUSE’S HOBBY
Once you’ve established your designated time together every week and decided to start making your own plans outside those days, it’s time to start investing some of your energy into their hobby. That may sound strange, but stay with us here.
Sometimes the greatest times of connection you’ll have with your spouse are when you purposefully step into his or her passion and spend a little time there instead of fighting against it. You might find that you share the best conversations or experiences together during these times.
Finding that shared experience together is the key–that’s when your spouse’s spirit will really open up. They’ll feel valued because you took the time to step into their happy place, to share that passion for an activity or interest that is obviously very important to them. And they’ll feel energized because not only are they participating in something that gives them joy; now they’re getting to share it with you.
There are so many opportunities for deep, meaningful intimacy to be forged just by showing interest in something your husband or wife loves. Ask questions to enter your spouse’s world as much as possible, see what’s good about it, then share it to the degree that you can. Why not be a part of something your spouse enjoys, in some way?
If you and your spouse or partner would like help with your relationship, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.