I started a series a while ago about becoming better friends with your spouse. Austin and I were very good friends before we got married. Investing in this side of our relationship has been very important.
Over the course of the years, I have come to find that there are some important things you need to do in order to develop your friendship with your spouse. This is something that you have to be intentional about, it isn’t just going to happen.
So far, I have written 3 other posts in this series that have addressed different ways to be better friends.
How to Develop Friendship Through Steering Conversations
How to Use Physical Intimacy as a Springboard Into a Deeper Friendship
How Flirting Can Benefit Your Friendship in Marriage
How Developing Separate Interests Helps Your Friendship
Today I want to talk about how developing separate interests can help your friendship. Oh, I hear you now, how is that supposed to help your friendship? Shouldn’t you be talking about how we are supposed to be attached to one another’s hip for 24/7? NO!
That is part of your problem when it comes to being friends. Have you ever heard of this thing called “smothering”? When you are in each other’s faces all day long, then there is no way your friendship can flourish. Instead, you just feel obligated to be together all of the time and never enjoy anything away from each other. That is not friends…that is a ball and chain.
My Parents Modeled Separate Interests
All of my life growing up, my parents modeled this for me. In fact, they are still this way. My mom is an amazing pianist, seamstress and avid book reader. My dad can build anything, works with wood, tinkers with his old car, and enjoys working outside.
My dad worked out of town for the majority of my life. He would go to work first thing Monday morning and return on Friday night. Saturday, he would get up and go out in the garage and work. He always had projects going.
Mom would spend her Saturday mornings reading, playing her piano, or sewing, or whatever she felt interested in. By the afternoon, they would both stop what they were doing, and then go out on a date with one another.
This worked so well for them on many different levels. Since they were both good at different things, there was nothing that my parents couldn’t accomplish.
The Difference of Interest in My Marriage
I’ve talked about this before, Austin and I are polar opposites when it comes to our idea of fun. I think dancing around the house, going for walks, crafting, sightseeing and anything active are fun. He thinks a movie marathon, YouTube vids, studying scripture, debating theology, learning more about fundraising, and anything sitting down is fun.
Over the years, we have both learned to appreciate what the other person is interested in. It has taken a lot of work on both of our parts to take part in the others interests. Regardless of how much we have tried, some of his interests will never appeal to me, and that is ok.
I have learned to tolerate and somewhat like some science fiction. However, there are a lot of science fiction movies and books I can’t get with. I go away and let him watch those shows on his own. I buy him books that will appeal to his taste.
The Difference Between Interests and Passions
Passions and interests can go hand in hand to a degree. However, passions become those productive things that you spend your time on, not simply your hobbies.
You might feel passionate about volunteering in a specific organization or pursuing a side job from home. Maybe you turn your hobbie of crafting into an entrepreneurial venture.
It’s Ok That I Don’t Like All of His Interests or Passions
It is ok that I don’t watch every single sci-fi show with him. It’s ok that I am not going to read a fiction book with him. Those are his interests and I can be excited that he has something that helps him relax and enjoy life.
He can do the same thing with me. There are things he knows I like, that aren’t necessarily what he likes. He can sit back and let me enjoy the things that I like.
How Separate Interests Help Marriage
There are a lot of ways that separate interests can help your marriage. In my marriage, these are the things that our differences have done for us.
Gives us something to talk about.
In my opinion, this is one of the top reasons that separate interests are important in marriage. Since Austin doesn’t know the ins and outs of everything to do with my desires, he can learn a lot by talking to me. He isn’t going to do a ton of research to find out more about the subject, but he can learn so much because I have.
It goes both ways. I can listen to him talk about the books he’s been reading, fundraising podcasts he’s listened to, and other things without already knowing all of the information. It makes it easy to ask questions and listen.
Gives us something to focus on other than each other.
One would think that you need to focus on your spouse as much as possible. However, I think there needs to be a balance. If you spend so much time with each other and focusing on each other…well..you’re going to annoy the crap out of one another.
Am I right? How many of you love your spouse, but can’t take them all day everyday in your space? I know I’m not the only one.
Sometimes, sending too much time together adds to problems in your marriage. You need to take time away from one another so that you can enjoy things you like. Then you can come back together feeling renewed and refreshed.
Gives us a break from our responsibilities.
We have 3 young boys that are not old enough to be left alone. There is no way that we can afford sitters on a regular basis. Since we both enjoy doing different things, one of us can manage the kids while the other one goes out and does something alone.
By having our own separate interests, it gives us a reason to take a break from our responsibilities. For a number of years, Austin was willing to give me a break, but I never knew what to do when I left. Now that I have things I am passionate about, I can go out and do those things.
Gives us a sense of self-worth.
It is very satisfying to spend a little bit of time investing in something that is mine. I’m not talking about raising the kids or cleaning the house. Those things belong to Austin and me. However, I have things that are mine…just mine.
When I have the time to invest in the things I’m focusing on, it helps me feel special; it gives me a sense of self-worth. I can walk away from the things I have vested myself into that are mine, and present it to my husband. He can appreciate what I’ve done and give me credit for my accomplishments. I don’t have to share any of that with anyone else.
The same thing goes for him. He gets to invest his life into his passions and feel proud of his work. I can commend him on his achievements and tell him what a great job he has done.
If you are looking for ways that you can be better friends with your spouse, be sure to invest in yourself. This is very important for the health of any relationship. Both people need time apart so that when they come back together, they have something to share with each other.