On this, our 9th wedding anniversary, I’d love to hear from couples about a question I’ve been pondering: what do you do when you have an interest/love/hobby that your partner doens’t share?

I love live music, for instance, & public gatherings, & Rachel likes neither. She likes football & Rush. I’ve generally found people to go see music with, & to attend parades, pride events, &c., although I’m starting from scratch with making friends out here in Wisconsin, which is why it’s come up.

So do you:

  1. tend to not do the thing you like
  2. tend to drag the person who doesn’t like it along
  3. or do you just do your own things, & then come together to do the things you do both like together?

As maybe everyone knows at this point, I feel “dragged along” – even if I haven’t gone anywhere – when she watches football at home. In the small apartments we’ve lived in, I don’t have much escape unless I want to go somewhere else for a few hours.

So I’m curious, & waiting to hear what kinds of solutions all you creative, coupled types have come up with.

7 Replies to “In(ter)dependence”

  1. I’m seeing a bit of implied negativity in the choices – “not do the thing you like” and “drag…along”.

    You might want to look at the perspectives of giving vs taking.

    For the first perhaps eight years, we had a model that worked like this:
    She wanted to watch scary movies and they frightened me too much, so she didn’t.
    She wanted to go out and party, so she did and I stayed home and got bitter.
    I wanted to watch comedies, so either we did (and she got bitter) or we didn’t (and I got bitter).

    There were things we both enjoyed – like camping – so there were shared aspects of our lives. But the bitterness broke through (especially my jealousy), and we broke up.

    For three months.


    What we learned was that we valued both our separate lives and our lives together. So I can go on a trip and she can do something at home. Or she can go off with her friends (she doesn’t party so much these two decades later) and I will do something else. And we will share the things we both love.

    We give each other the freedom to do what she loves. We make time for each other. These are gifts we give to each other, and we don’t keep score (if a score is kept, it’s not really a gift). It’ important to give (offer) these to each other rather than to take (demand) them from each other (anything taken is not really a gift).

    So I would say we’ve done 1 and 2 and survived the damage they caused, and moved on to 3. But 3 was never a bargain or an agreement. It’s a gift that comes from a place of love.

    Blessings to the two of you on your ninth anniversary.

  2. Happy anniversary!

    I would say we do a little of everything. I watch stuff on TV that maybe my wife doesn’t want to watch but she sits through it at times and vice versa. We have attended gatherings, concerts, or whatnot that were maybe tailored more towards the likings of one of us more so than the other, but in the end we both end up having a good time. If anything, I sometimes pout and fuss about going to public gatherings, but once there have a good time.

    Finally, if either one of us goes to a movie, sport event, etc. that is not liked by the other then we just go with friends with no regrets.

    I guess I figure we just generally make each other happy and compromise when we can.

  3. Congrats on your 9th anniversary!

    My partner and I have tried a few different things over the years.

    For one, not everything we’re interested in is something we feel the need to share. She likes vampire movies & fiction. I like Roman history. We’re perfectly fine pursuing our interests independently there. A lot of individual movies and books fall in this same category.

    But now and then something comes along that is really important for us to share with each other, and in that case we try to explain why it’s important to one another. Then we make good-hearted attempts to find was to engage.

    For example she loves photography. She’ll spend hours trying to find the perfect spots, get the right lighting, pouring over the comparative benefits of this lens over that one. I just don’t have the patience for it. But I do try to support and encourage her hobby: I help her on shoots when she requests it, help her justify big decisions about expensive equipment when she feels “selfish” for spending so much, and take the time to appreciate the results of her effort. That’s an example of something I mostly still don’t care for personally, but we’ve worked out ways for her to feel my support and appreciation without necessarily “dragging me along” everywhere.

    But sometimes a goodhearted effort to support one another has lead to something we mutually enjoy. For example, I had never taken the time to read Jane Austen, and expected to find it stuffy and dull – something that didn’t age well with the times. She asked me to watch the A&E “Pride & Prejudice” mini series with her. So I did. I got totally hooked, and now we enjoy finding other Jane Austen books or dramatizations when they’re available. That’s an example of a hobby we didn’t used to share, but do now. (This doesn’t always happen in one direction, by the way. I introduced her to Joss Whedon’s “Firefly” and the rebooted “Battlestar Galactica” series, and she might have ended up liking them even more than me).

    And, of course, there is inevitably just stuff you can’t help but feel “dragged along” to. We try not to do that to one another terribly often, but inevitably in any relationship this stuff happens sometimes. Now and then there’s going to be a party she really wants to attend but I don’t, or a dinner with a couple I really want to see while she’d prefer to stay in. In those cases we try to be honest enough to admit we’re asking a favor of each other, along with a light-hearted “you owe me” kind of agreement. We don’t actually keep official score. Just the acknowledgment that this one is not a mutual interest but we’re supporting our partner anyway is enough to keep things from getting pouty.

  4. I’m into guitar pedals and making weird noise with them. She’s into dogs.
    I spend money on pedals and time on music forums online. Our relationship is such that it doesn’t impact her much. I don’t get to make as much noise as frequently as I’d like but that’s been the case in every living situation I’ve ever had. We have enough room in the house that I can keep my guitar stuff out of the way and she can choose if she wants to listen when I play or not.
    She walks the dog alone most days and is most responsible for taking care. On weekends, if I feel like it, I’ll walk with them. When she has other obligations, I’ll help out with the dog.
    I guess it’s mostly #3 for us.
    As for solutions, we start from a mutual understanding of the priorities of the relationship. I get home before her from work and, often, I’ll start dinner. I haven’t had much noisy time lately so I told her I didn’t want to make dinner and she said she would. Sometimes she gets too tired to do the dog’s nightly routine and I’ll take care of it. We’re both in touch enough with each others’ feelings to not step on toes.

  5. 9 years, Congratulations!

    well. . . we’ve been together for 14 years, married for 7 and have a 5 YO. . .

    With a kiddo our “free time” is spent with him. We like doing things together as a family. Regular stuff: Movies, dinner out, board games, work in the garden, vacations to the beach, holidays. . . getting together with friends who also have kiddos.

    We both work. She has the high powered job. . . mine is more flexible and allows me to take care of kiddo when he gets home early from camp or school.

    Most of the time we share the same friends. On the off chance that my spouse wants to get together with her friends. . . or I with mine. . . separately. . . we carve out time for each other and the other person gets some 1:1 time with kiddo. In which. . . kiddo and I like to go to the cafe and read a book. (Richard Scary is a fav) and then go to the park.

  6. oh. . . but i do like to watch a little football (less nowadays for some reason) and my spouse is addicted to “House Hunters International.” We watch both of them together. . . even though one of us is more “into it” than the other. . .

    Unless it’s the D-list, then we’re both up for it!

  7. I want to add my congratulations, too, on your 9 years. We had our 34th anniversary a couple of months ago.

    We live with alternative no. 3. We are not joined at the hip. Recognizing that means identifying boundaries: she is she, and I am me.

    As much as I love my partner, we are still two separate individuals. We like to touch each other, we like to be with each other, but we also know that we can survive — and our love can survive — without constant presence.

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