I thought I had hobbies — until I met my husband. He takes hobbies to the next level.
Whether it’s beach volleyball, rock climbing, free diving, working out, or video games, the man has hobbies for days, and would spend every waking minute doing them if he could. In talking to other military spouses, I’ve learned that many other active duty members also have similar hobby obsessions, spending countless hours in their garages fixing cars, doing woodworking, making knives, and more. Perhaps the military mentality fosters a passion and intensity that easily extends to extracurricular activities. Or maybe our spouses are just nuts – the jury’s still out on that one.
Over our years of marriage, I like to think that I have become more accepting and accommodating of my husband’s hobby habits, but I will be the first to admit that there are still times I want to throw the video game console out the window or hide every volleyball in a ten-mile radius. For solid, proven advice on living with a hobby fanatic, we would probably need to call my mother-in-law who has lived alongside one for thirty-plus years, because hobby addiction is indeed a genetic condition. Nonetheless, here are some ideas and strategies for having a happy and argument-free(ish) marriage to a hobby addict.
Note: I fully recognize that the introduction of children into our household will completely change this hobby dynamic and my stance on it. However, hopefully with some alterations to these strategies, my husband can get a moderated version of hobby fulfillment, while I still get the help and support with the kids I need!
1. Nurture your own interests
There is value in having your own interests and energy outlets, outside of time spent with your spouse. I have always been passionate about long-distance running, working out, writing, and reading, so my husband’s individual hobbies have encouraged me to continue to foster my own. While my hobbies don’t take up as much time as my husband’s – I can’t run for 6 hours every Saturday, but he could play beach volleyball all day – they provide me with a channel to develop my own skills and focus on myself. Also, at our last duty station, my husband played volleyball every Tuesday night, so I sought out a Bible study that also met every Tuesday night. That way we both participated in our individual activities, and then could talk about them together at the end of the night!
2. Find ways to partake and support
During one of our quarterly hobby-arguments, my husband said that he wished that I played volleyball so we could do it together. Unfortunately for him, he married one of those athletic, but uncoordinated people, so me playing volleyball would actually be worse for our marriage. But the comment made me feel better about his time spent playing volleyball – he wasn’t participating in all these activities to purposely get away from me, but rather because he gets true joy and fulfillment out of them. So, I have tried to find ways that I can support and participate in his hobbies where possible.
When I have time, I try to go to the beach while he plays volleyball to watch and hang out with the other spouses. Also, we do have some shared hobbies that we can pursue together, like hiking and rock climbing. Hence one of many reasons why we have requested to move back to California – so we can pursue these activities together!
For a long time, I would be annoyed in silence when my husband would leave for a hobby-filled day, which later would just manifest itself through passive aggressive comments and eye rolls on my part. But that is NOT healthy for a relationship! I was trying not to say anything because I didn’t want to be the nagging wife, but I learned that by bottling it up, I would eventually become the nasty wife instead! When we started communicating more, my husband shared with me that he doesn’t mind if I set some boundaries for him, like asking him to be done with volleyball by a certain time so we could also have time to go do something together or asking him to work in some chores around his activities.
Through these conversations, my husband also shared that he didn’t have to play volleyball, he just wanted to be doing something physically vigorous. So, we decided we would work on finding some more physical activities that we could do together, like kayaking, paddle boarding, etc. Also, as a result of these conversations, my husband has become better about talking to me before committing to a day of activities, ensuring that I didn’t already have something fun-filled in mind for us. While these simple conversations seem obvious, in talking to my friends, I know I am not the only one that harbored hobby resentment but didn’t talk about it!
But would I really change him if I could?
While there are obviously times where I wish my husband could practice more moderation in his hobbies, his passion and dedication are qualities that made me love him in the first place. The passion he puts towards his hobbies is the same passion that I know he applies to his job and to our expanding family. Thus, at the end of the day, I guess I wouldn’t change much – maybe just dial it back to a hobby aficionado, instead of an addict.