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navigating through differences in a relationship
Gena Ellis, Healthy Relationship Facilitator
Every time I introduce myself to a group, I always lead with the fact that I have been married for 24.5 years. I often see wide eyes and hear deep sighs after that. Then I tell them we’ve been together for 30 years, which is often longer than some of the participants have been alive. Some will even give a round of applause. I say my husband needs a standing ovation for being with me all these years.
As we move toward our silver anniversary, I’m thinking about and reminiscing on the things that allowed us to make it when so many didn’t make it to five years, much less 25, especially since my husband and I are so very different.
There are two main things that keep us together:
1. For us, quitting is not an option.
2. We choose to accept and respect the differences we have.
4 keys for taking up a hobby together
During the Yamadas’ adventurous marriage, there haven’t been many dull moments. “I wouldn’t describe either of us as risk-takers, but we are definitely not afraid to try new things,” says Mrs. Yamada. “We enjoy ballroom dancing, mountain biking and scuba diving, but I couldn’t see either of us bungee jumping.”
Several years ago, the Yamadas tried taking up a new hobby together — flying. “I have always had a love for aviation,” says Mr. Yamada. “I used to build model airplanes as a kid. Learning to fly has been a lifelong dream. My wife loves to travel so getting our pilot’s license greatly expanded our travel options, which makes her very happy.”
Getting their pilots’ licenses would not be without its marital challenges. While Mr. Yamada seemed to innately know about spark plugs, electrical systems and mechanics, his wife would definitely not describe them as second nature. She had to work hard to keep up.
If you’re interested in taking up a new hobby together, here are some valuable lessons the Yamadas learned that may be helpful:
- Make the ground rules ahead of time. There will be conflicts and disagreements. How will you handle them when they arise?
- Be patient. It is easy to get impatient with each other if you aren’t moving forward at the same pace. Keep the end goal in mind!
- Guard against being critical. There are some things that each of you do better than the other. Take advantage of this by learning from each other instead of criticizing.
- Apologize when you are wrong. This did not come easily for Mr. Yamada, but over the years he has learned he is not always right.
It usually takes six to 12 months to get a pilot’s license. The Yamadas got theirs in 90 days. They would tell you it was a great experience and ultimately a good thing for their marriage.