Photo by Artur Kornakov on Unsplash
Photo by Artur Kornakov on Unsplash

Opposing Interests

Question

I'm newly married and have a lot of interests that don’t include my husband, but I always have to negotiate to get to do them. I know marriage means sacrifice—but sacrificing everything? I feel as if he wants me to give up all the things I enjoy! How can I do the things I love without feeling guilty or without starting a major war?

Answer

One of the most common mistakes many of us make is to incorrectly interpret what our partner doesn’t say and then function as if that assumption is truth. Has your husband clearly told you he wants you to give up all the things you enjoy, or is that your interpretation? Is it possible you’ve made some incorrect assumptions and jumped to the wrong conclusion? Has he really asked you to give up everything?

This may sound like a small first step, but over-generalization and all-or-nothing thinking results in exaggeration and inflation of a problem, which leads to discouragement and frustration. The next step is to communicate to him in clear and unambiguous ways your specific concerns and let him know specifically what you’d like to see different. What are some things you enjoy doing together? What are some things you’d like to do by yourself? Start with one or two that would be most meaningful.

Marriage does involve sacrifice. The biggest adjustment for many couples is going from “I” thinking to “we” thinking. That doesn’t mean giving up our uniqueness. While it’s important to maintain some of your individual interests, it’s also vital that you and your husband discover things you enjoy doing together. It’s easy for some couples to function as “married singles” and expect their life to be basically the same as it was before they were married.

While marriage involves sacrifice, it also involves sharing, working, playing, and praying together. Why not try some new things? Get involved in some of his interests, or ask him to join you in some of yours. After I was married, I went to a ballet and some cross stitch shows with my wife, and she  learned how to mountain bike and scuba dive. Yes, we still have some of our unique areas of interest, but our marriage is much richer and stronger because of the mutual interests we cultivated.

Gary J. Oliver, ThM, PhD
Executive Director at Center for Healthy Relationships | + posts

Dr. Oliver is the Executive Director of The Center for Healthy Relationships, and professor of Psychology and Practical Theology at John Brown University.  He has authored over 20 books and more than 350 professional and popular articles.  Dr. Oliver has over 40 years’ experience as a Clinical Psychologist, Marriage  & Family Therapist and Spiritual Director.  He leads seminars & workshops both nationally and internationally on a variety of counseling-related issues, healthy relationships as well as Emotional & Relational Intelligence (ERI).

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email