What to Do When Hobbies Steal Your Spouse

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!

22 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.

    • Christie says:

      I relate to this so much! It’s like you’re describing my life. My husband is also a car fanatic and needs to spend all his extra time and money fixing cars, racing them, dreaming about new projects, pining over the Ferraris (Like we’ll ever have so much money as to be able to afford them!), etc! It is super boring and I really couldn’t care less about cars. It’s to the point that whenever he brings up cars in a conversation, it starts a fight because cars are the LAST thing I want to talk about. I also used to try to involve myself in his hobbies but I just can’t even pretend to like it. I’m becoming resentful too because every spare moment he has he’s itching to go to his friend’s garage and work on them. There’s never a full weekend where he’s just at home with the family and I’m beyond sick of it.

      I’ll be praying for you and your family and that your husband can learn how to make you all a priority instead.

      Peace,
      Christie

      • Lisa says:

        Oh my. I literally LOL’d with a tear at both of your comments. I could have written them myself. My husband is OBSESSED with cars… It’s an actual addiction. Like, he needs ‘fixes’, like a drug. He is amazing with cars. Rebuilds engines, welds, body work… Etc. There is no doubt he has a talent for it. BUT we’ve been married for 10 years and both of us are engineers. I do not have a hobby or passion like he does. I work all day and find most hobbies exhausting at that point. I feel resentment because I feel like without me and my income he would not be able to do more than half of what he does. I feel like I’m his sponsor. I feel like he’s my spoiled grown son. On to of that, I’m pregnant with our first child… And I definitely feel like I’m doing this alone. All he can talk about is what car he needs to drive the child around in. He spends almost 100% of his time working in the shop, racing, texting racing buddies, searching the internet endlessly for car parts and cars. He actually has a Ferrari, Nissan 350z, Nissan 300, truck and car hauler, boat and side by side. He wants more all the time. At any given time in our marriage he’s never had less than 3 cars and sometimes upwards of 10 a time. He has purchased cars without telling me and hid them from me. He has purchased expensive car parts in the middle of the night without telling me and going against my wishes. I’ve taken the approach of the article but it doesn’t work. At the end of the day… It continues to be a problem. I am glad it’s not an addiction to women or drugs… But this is equivalent to gambling. Being pregnant I find myself getting emotional more and more because I’m worried for our marriage and future child. He has very little concept of how much money he spends and how much time he devotes to his obsession. I can’t even call it a hobby. I don’t even hate cars… But he makes me resentful towards them. I’m resentful towards his car buddies and the time they spend with him. I’m tempted to quit work after I deliver so he doesn’t have my income anymore and has to take a more serious look at our finances. It probably won’t work. I sometimes question if cars turn him on more than I do.

  • 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.

    • Trinity says:

      Actually,you are wrong. My boyfriend is obsessed with doing house projects, yard projects, basement projects, and chores. I never get to have free time when he’s home, until he is done working. He doesn’t spend quality time with me or the kids anymore. He just wants to be home “working”. He even bought a head light so he could continue working through the night until 5 am in the yard or fence that he made with sticks. He can not tolerate seeing me not work on a project or chore while he’s working. It’s draining to constantly have him tell me to find something to do. He makes me feel stupid and lazy. I’m very lonely because working is all he can do and there is no time for living.

  • 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.

    • Sad wife says:

      How’s the hobby situation going? I’m in a similar situation but with drones/quads taking over my husband’s life. Every day after work he’s at the quad workbench until well after everyone else is asleep and then sleeps in the guest bedroom because it’s close to the work station. We have two boys that he likes to sit in front of a smart phone or computer when I’m not around to monitor. The boys (5.6) love that dad gives them so much screen time. I feel like the only person with sense in my home. Just a couple days short of 12 years into this marriage and I feel like I’m hanging by a thread. I’m up and can’t sleep some
      nghts but he’s fine if he can be on the forums texting his buddies or tinkering on his hobby.

  • Kristi Brown says:

    My husband of 7 years is obssessed with playing softball. Playing or practicing at leadt 3 nights a week and playing tournaments every weekend that take up almost all of the weekend. When he is not playing ball he is at work or sitting his chair playing on his phone or watching tv. There is little to no interaction with me. Sometimes very little interaction with his 6yr old daughter. I have expressed my issues, concerns and despair many ways, many times and only get defensiveness and anger or major attitude back. So I know I ha e gone about it all wrong. My question is, how do I approach him now without him immediately becoming defensive? I tried to do it lovingly with positive words trying to reassure him that I dont want him to give it up completely, just scale it down a bit, but he rolled his eyes and said “So you’re gonna start that again?” So what do I do? I am feeling like there is no hope and that I should just give up 😭

    • SM says:

      I have the same exact problem with my husband playing softball, so we are going to do couples therapy. It just can’t be second fiddle anymore and feel like he enjoys playing softball more than he enjoys our time together. When we are spending time together he is bullshiting with his teammates via text or planning for his next tournament. I am fed up! I was grateful at first that he found something that made him happy, but it’s been years and it has increasingly become his number one priority.

  • Kristi Brown says:

    My husband of 7 years is obssessed with playing softball. Playing or practicing at least 3 nights a week and playing tournaments every weekend that take up almost all of the weekend. When he is not playing ball he is at work or sitting his chair playing on his phone or watching tv. There is little to no interaction with me. Sometimes very little interaction with his 6yr old daughter. I have expressed my issues, concerns and despair many ways, many times and only get defensiveness and anger or major attitude back. So I know I ha e gone about it all wrong. My question is, how do I approach him now without him immediately becoming defensive? I tried to do it lovingly with positive words trying to reassure him that I dont want him to give it up completely, just scale it down a bit, but he rolled his eyes and said “So you’re gonna start that again?” So what do I do? I am feeling like there is no hope and that I should just give up 😭

  • francesca says:

    If anyones spouse/partner are obsessed to the point of ignoring you or their children and other responsibilities they have. Please research aspergers syndrome. It’s more common than you think and no, you can’t always spot it…..it’s usually wives that spot it eventually.

  • Savannah F says:

    My husband and I have been married for 14 years. He LOVES CYCLING. He has an obsessive personality. I cycle too, but I stay home with my 2 girls while he goes riding. He’s finally realized that it wasn’t fair for him to go all the time so he stays home on Thursdays while I ride. He also counts steps religiously. He works out after work instead of coming straight home b.c he says traffic is so bad it makes more sense to just stay there. In my head I’m thinking “REALLY”?? He’s home around 730 8..which is really late. I’m afraid he’s admiring the wrong things/qualities in women. His face lights up when he hears another woman talking “bike talk” . It annoys the crap out of me..any suggestions?

  • Heidi says:

    Selfish spouses should be taken to task for their selfish behaviors. I’m not sure all this ”gentle approach” stuff works enough. If people knew there were consequences such as being dumped/divorced they would step it up and be gentlemen and loyal partners. I think women put up with way too much. Many women know the nature of the guy they are going to marry and marry them anyway even if they display too much selfishness. Not smart ladies! No matter what our brain dimming hormones/heart tells us, there are billions of fish in the sea out there – ones who will treat you like they cherish you. Hold out for someone like that. (of course I know men can deal with this with their women as well) Anyone who has to deal with someone with this kind of attitude – my heart goes out to you so much because I know what it’s like to be treated that way, but you don’t need them! After all, its so easy for them to not need you. Think about that.

  • Sara says:

    Well, Dr, if you are still in the house…since I was 16 I’ve been with this man. I’ve single-handedly raised our 4 kids in 33 years of lonely marriage to a traveling salesman who pads weeks away to hike or explore, then takes vacation with his best friend (also married male) to hike Swiss alps, Kilimanjaro…all around the world. This started as a celebratory hike on their 50th birthday and I’ve been told, will continue annually. I raised the kids alone, tried working to fill the gap…helped our family members pass to the other side…and now in my 50’s I’m lonelier than ever. I can’t have friends because they all think I’m crazy to be with him and they don’t know him, but they all think he must be cheating. They don’t understand it’s not a woman…it’s mountains, and airplanes, and cars and anything he likes doing. These are things I can not join him on, physically it’s too hard. So I sit and wait (for his one or two days home)…in the same house, wondering if new paint would cheer me up. I worry that I’m enmeshed, needy, crazy…but wouldn’t anyone else feel the same? He doesn’t know why I can’t just be happy for him that he has accomplished such amazing hikes 😐. I’ve been to counselors and a psychologist. Their opinion was that I suffer abandonment issues and CPTSD. Their advice was this: if I stay…it’s my choice. What I need is a way to cope. He is otherwise a great man or I wouldn’t have stayed. I’m here until I die…but do I always have to suffer?

  • SLP says:

    I am on the opposite side of this issue. I have a hobby that I love. It brings me joy and keeps me physically active. I also have met some wonderful people that have become my friends. I don’t do anything other than this as a hobby and am conscientious of my time on anything that has to do with my hobby because I know my husband is not happy about it. I spend one to two hours a day 6 days a week on my hobby. My husband is the one that hates it. He thinks I don’t care about him and don’t devote enough time to our business. I am home all the time other than those few hours a day. I work on our family business from home and get a lot of work done daily. I do all the laundry, work in our office (invoices, organize jobs, make calls, enter all job information, emails, pay invoices, do the taxes, etc.) I organize and pay all the bills, keep the house clean, care for our kids and home school my youngest that is 12. I go golfing with my husband and go to car events with him as well. I ask him to go do things together to make sure he knows I want to spend time with him. He has quads and goes camping and I go too. Sometimes he goes with just his friends and I encourage that. The part I don’t understand about my husbands frustration of my hobby is that he has a HUGE car collection, motorcycles, quads, golfs but gets upset about my one hobby. We live in a small guest house and bought a 20 acre farm four years ago to build a house. We haven’t built a house but we built a 4,000 square foot garage that cost up over 250,000.00. Honestly, I am totally fine with that. I love cars too. I love my husband and want him to do what he enjoys. He has over 30 cars and motorcycles. He had a friend of his move into a trailer on our property to work on his cars. I was a bit irritated with this since he didn’t talk to me first about it… but okay, it makes him happy. I talk to him about the cars and his golf. I do not feel I am being hard or selfish in any way. He does work very hard; he is a General Contractor and his work gets very hectic. I try to support him through that as much as I can. I often feel his distaste for my hobby is that he is overwhelmed in his own world and craves simplicity and my 100% undivided attention and love. It is unrealistic really. I don’t think someone should give up what they love to make someone else happy. Unless it was something truly damaging to someone. As long as you make time and love each other it should work out fine. For me when I see him building his cars or golfing it makes me happy because it makes him happy! But mutual respect for ones passion should also be respected – in my circumstances anyway……

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