Nicola Beer, through her work as an international relationship specialist, has helped many couples find their way through the tough times. One aspect that crops up time and time again is the imposition known as a ‘hobby’. She has found that it is difficult for one partner, who has passionately embraced an activity, to understand why the other views it as an intrusion. Yet, she says, it is critical to reach a compromise to prevent frustration and resentment from building, which could lead to withdrawal or explosive fight. Here are some tips to ensure that hobbies help and not hurt your relationship.
1 Recognize that we all have hobbies- I’ve noticed, while 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 don’t count as hobbies.
2 Ensure that 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 partner is having difficulty accepting your hobbies and has none of their own,help them 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 partner’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.
4 Accept all hobbies- When we reject the hobbies of our partners or they reject ours, we are, in some way, rejecting a part of each other. Our hobbies make us who we are and, for most of us, are a source of stress relief and happiness. Would you prefer a grumpy, bored lover with plenty of time or a happy, content partner 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 relationships as you learn more about each other’s passions and it will enhance your conversation and connection.
6 Always have one hobby you share- Find a hobby you look forward to doing together as this will help you become closer and strengthen your relationship. Dr. Harley in ‘His Needs, Her Needs’ explains that if we do our hobbies without our spouse, we miss the opportunity for the fun and excitement to be brought into the relationship.
7 Talk about boundaries- We all have boundaries so think about what you both really need to be
happy. Chances are that it’s not the hobby that really bothers us, but the time or money spent on it. Ask yourselves what is it that bothers you? Could it be that 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 precisely what is on your mind so you can move forward and compromise. Be vulnerable and you will reap the rewards. Rather than expressing ‘hate’ for a ‘stupid’ hobby, tell your partner how much you miss being with them and spending time with them. Find a way to work out a compromise that suits you both and fits in with the family.