You may find yourself in the spot where you and your spouse don’t have much in common in the way of interests or hobbies. Maybe you think you have nothing in common. And you may wonder, should I care about my spouse’s interests? If I don’t share my spouse’s interests, does that mean I don’t care about my spouse? Just how important is it to care about what they like to do??
Let me tell you about my situation. I fish. It’s what I do. My wife, not so much. Actually, not at all.
But I will tell you what my wife does do. She recognizes when I need to de-stress, and says, “Babe, you need to go fishing.”
Here’s my point: She does not at all share in my love of fishing. But she cares for me enough to support my love of fishing.
There are two bottom lines here. The first is, if you care about your spouse, you will naturally care about their interests. (Notice, I didn’t say you will share in them.)
Here’s why it’s essential:
- Your spouse’s interests (assuming they’re healthy interests) are what helps them be a better version of themselves. How fulfilled do you feel when you’re doing something you like? Do your interests give you a sense of meaning and identity? Of course. That’s why you take part in your interests. Your spouse feels the same way.
- Your spouse’s hobbies help them to practice self-care. Whether it’s fishing, scrapbooking, running, cooking, reading, or yard work, our interests serve to bring our stress and anxiety levels down a few notches. It’s part of how we maintain our mental health. What your mate does for fun allows them to de-stress and unwind.
- Your spouse’s interests help them to be a better spouse and parent. Add up the two previous points, and your spouse is in a better position to be what they need for your family.
The second bottom line is this: caring about your spouse’s interests doesn’t mean you have to share those interests.
There are ways to show care for your spouse and support them in their interests without feeling the need to invest waist-deep in those activities yourself.
Here are some possibilities:
- Encourage them to do what they enjoy doing in times of stress or anxiety. You know your spouse. You can tell when they need a break or just a mental health tune-up. Like anyone else, sometimes they may need a reminder that doing something they love is just what they need at that moment.
- Affirm and compliment them in their interests. When I catch a fish I’m proud of, I take a picture and send it to my wife. The truth: she couldn’t care less about how big a fish I caught. But she always compliments me on it and tells me, “Good job! Way to go! You are such a studly fisherman!” (Okay, I made that last one up, but I’m sure that’s what she’d say.) Let your spouse know you like them doing what they like doing.
- Participate as a “one-time experience.” Your spouse may feel supported if you participate once in what they like doing, understanding it’s not a regular thing. The outdoors may not be your thing, but joining your spouse on an easy hike, just this once, can show them your support. The point here isn’t that you’re going to try to love cooking, but that you love being with your spouse. And all this without the pressure of requiring yourself to take up hiking every weekend.
- Allow your spouse to be the expert. I love it when my wife asks me something about fishing because it allows me to tell her all I know about it. Truthfully, she may not remember the difference between a spinning rod and a fly rod. But she cared enough to ask me about something I love doing that I know she doesn’t love.
- Encourage growth in their interests. Part of the joy of having hobbies is they give you something to grow in knowledge and skill. It feels good to improve your ability to camp, sew, do woodworking, or paint. You are in the position to be your spouse’s biggest cheerleader with this.
You can offer lots of care and love for your spouse without feeling the need to take on a hobby you have no interest in.
I’d encourage you to share an honest conversation about the interests you share and don’t share. ✦ Don’t forget! Carve out time to do things together you both love to do. No matter what, be sure to let them know you love them loving what they love to do as well.