What to Do When Hobbies Steal Your Spouse

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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?

Does your spouse have an all-consuming hobby? How have you learned to spend more time together? Leave a comment and let us know!

10 Comments

  • Nolan Kamp says:

    I hope this reaches dr Les and Leslie. My fiancée and I came to fight night in Feb of 2016. We were in love and happy. I don’t know how to get a hold of you so I am trying this way. We have come to a very difficult impass and I am hoping you can reach out to her or just pray for us.

  • Maggie Largie says:

    My husband has always been a car fanatic since our dating days. I used to accompany him to car meets, races, mechanic shops, junk yards for parts, etc. It was honestly so boring to me but this was the only way I could spend time with him. I’ve always felt it was unfair and selfish of him to never think of my interests or needs, but I guess he needed to be told and guided.
    Even as a married couple before having kids he would have project cars that he would spend every evening and weekend outside with while I was inside alone and pregnant. At times he wouldn’t come home from car meets until 3am.
    This caused a lot of problems and distance between us emotionally. I never took the gentle and kind approach like Dr Les and Leslie talk about in this blog. I was way too bitter and resentful but I made sure he knew how I felt.
    The only reason it has gotten better is because he has temporarily decided that it was financially better to get rid of his expensive car projects and car payments and opt for a reliable vehicle he could pay cash for. He has been around way more, spending more time with me and our son every evening and on the weekends. It’s been great, I just hope it lasts. I don’t mind him being into cars, I just think he has an obsessive personality that if it’s not cars, it would be work, or binge watching shows (which he has spent a lot of time doing since giving up his cars).
    Please pray for our marriage and for me to be able to speak to him kindly and lovingly.

  • Josh Robinson says:

    My wife’s hobby is quite simply her phone (and the many she can use it). It is next to impossible to engage when she is on it, and I feel at times that she values it more than time we can spend together. Frankly I don’t even try to engage anymore while she’s using it. Thank you so much for these useful tips on how to approach an overwhelming hobby. Please pray that I can share my feelings in a gentle and humble way and that we can come up with some possible solutions to make the most of our time together while still giving her her needed time with her phone.

    • Steve Beach says:

      If you need to talk to her while she is on the phone – try sending her a text message and ask for a date or appointment. Ask her to try to limit her addiction (?) to so many minutes/hours a day. Then see if she can do it. I hope you can help cut the cord to the device or at least ease the use of it.

  • Dave says:

    Thank you so much for your insight into this important subject. It definitely contributed to the conflict in my previous marriage as my former wife was consumed with her gardening and crafts and showed no interest in me or working on resolving our conflicts. I could have done better getting involved in her passion for her hobbies but was physically and emotionally drained by my work and the conflict in our marriage. I had no energy left. So I warn those in similar circumstances to take heed and follow Les and Leslie’s recommendations. It takes both to recognize and problem solve.

  • It looks like there are several couples who have or are currently struggling to get a spouse to become engaged in time with them, and we certainly included in that number. My husband and I have been married 27 years and it has always been this way for us. I had a very addictive personality and found if hard to not be” all or nothing” when I took on a job or hobby. Twice it has wrecked my health to the point of resigning form a teaching job in the middle of the year, and then about 15 years ago after we opened our own business and were putting in about 16 hours a day. My body completely shut down and I was forced to “quit” for almost a year to regain strength and health. My husband is very work and performance oriented and is highly intelligent and loves to read, learn and also invent things, so it has been a very lonely marriage for us at times. We love the Lord and each other but I have prayed for many years that God would lead us to the right books, counselors, conferences,etc. I have also prayed for wisdom and renewal o four love relationship, as sometimes it just feels like we run our business as partners but only live as room-mates. Now over 50, both of us realize that there is not enough energy or time in the day to do everything & that we need to let go of some things before we lose our marriage. We are currently looking to sell our business and asking God for the right timing and buyers so that our staff and clients don’t get left hanging. We really desire to treat them right and make provision for the long-term employees, etc. Please agree with us in prayer for God’s will in all of it

  • Fred says:

    It can be really challenging to juggle all the competing priorities we are faced with daily–managing the home, kids, our jobs and marriage. The only way we can be successful is to prioritize and be intentional about carving time for our marriage. It is tough but it can be done. May God give us the wisdom to make the right decisions, as we handle the many challenges life brings. Thanks for the insights!

  • Mark Morgan says:

    Great info unless you are a man and your hobby happens to be house cleaning. My guess is you’ll never have to worry about these conversations.

  • Kim says:

    Learning to enjoy their hobbies has many blessings beyond belief!

  • Tricia Dunsmoor says:

    Me and my husband have been married for almost 2 yrs now. His hobby is RC cars and messing around in the garage. I go to the races with help him get stuff packed in his number one fan. The problem is I give support and even act interested in the cars but he never give support back to me. He will stay out in the garage till 3am sometimes. I used to go out there with him cause that’s the only way to spend time with him but he will never come in and be with me. He thinks I should always come out there. So now I don’t even go out there anymore. It hurts me cause I miss him but I’m tired of always doing and not getting anything back. Another problem is I will text him and he never replies but his friends text and he replies real quick top them. How do I fix these problems? Give me some ideas.

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