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Today’s Thriving Marriage Insights
Married couples need to have some fun together! And one of the best ways to do that is to find hobbies for couples.
We’ve had some heavy topics at To Love, Honor and Vacuum lately, and so I thought it was time to revisit one of my favorite posts ever and run it again, with some fun changes, so it could be higher up in the queue!
Let’s emotionally connect and have fun together again! No matter where you are in your marriage, you need some hobbies! A hobby is simply an activity or pursuit that you do together. And during COVID, we all could use some new ideas, too.
Hobbies can bring couples close because of two communication principles:
- It is often easier to communicate side by side, when you’re doing something, than it is to try to communicate face to face.
- When we spend more time together with shared activities (like hobbies!), then we build up goodwill, which makes it easier to tackle some of the bigger problems in marriage.
We all need shared activities, because that builds shared memories. You feel more like a team. You start chatting again (and the more you talk about little things, the easier it is to talk about big things!). And you laugh. Whenever you laugh together, walls come down. Tension dissipates. And you feel close. Often those petty things that bug you about each other seem to disappear!
Besides, it’s just plain fun to share hobbies as couples.
It’s fun to spend time away from a screen. It’s fun to build a memory or be productive or experience something new. And it’s fun to learn together! Here’s the neat thing about pursuing hobbies for couples, too: you don’t each have to love it to the same extent. The goal is not the hobby itself. The goal is spending time together and having those opportunities to laugh and chat. My husband and I go birdwatching. I enjoy it. It gets me outdoors; we get some exercise hiking; I learn more about photography.
But Keith will trek 2 miles through brush to sit still at dawn in the hopes that he might see a king rail (it’s a bird!). He will stand still at the base of a tree for 10 minutes to verify whether that was a white throated sparrow or a white crowned sparrow. He is WAY more into it than I am. But we still go birdwatching together, because I’m in it for the memories, not just for the birds. And when he wants to do something intense with counting birds, he goes without me.
I’m going to share a whole bunch of ideas for hobbies you can pursue together. Take this post as more of a brainstorming session. Maybe something I’ll mention will twig something in your brain and you’ll find an entirely different hobby to share with your husband! But what I’d recommend is this:
Finding a Hobbies for Couples
- Look through this list and identify 3 hobbies you’d like to start with your husband.
- Have your husband look through the list and identify 3 hobbies he’d like to start.
- Exchange lists and choose one on the other person’s list that you’d enjoy, too.
- Choose one to start first!
A Comprehensive List of Hobbies for Couples
Outdoorsy Hobbies for Couples
- Jogging/Training for Marathon
- Joining a co-ed sports league: basketball, baseball, soccer, etc.
- Target practice
- Rock climbing (on real rocks)
- Metal detecting
- Foraging (for wild mushrooms or other edibles)
My son-in-law David is really into foraging, especially mushrooms, and i want to join him in that this spring because I just love the idea of eating off the land as much as possible. Plus apparently some of the mushrooms taste really good! (and, yes, he knows how to tell the difference with the poisonous ones). We bought him a dehydrator for Christmas, too, so he can preserve some of them.
Domestic Hobbies for Couples to do Together
- Cooking (cook something gourmet once or twice a week together)
- Homesteading (where you try to become self-sufficient in some food products)
- Home improvement/painting
I’m already planning out my garden for the spring! I love growing herbs, and I dried and preserved so many last year, and made a ton of pesto.
Even if you’re in an apartment, you can make a balcony garden! But I love this garden tower for a house, too, because creating raised beds can be a hassle, and this I can put right on my deck and see it as I have my tea in the morning and it just makes me happy. Creating pestos and teas and salsas and hot sauces out of your produce can be another hobby you can do together.
And, seriously, it’s amazing how much you can grow in one of these garden towers!
And planning the garden can be so much fun as well. The yield on these towers can be incredible. Do you want to do herbs? Salad greens so you have fresh greens every night? Tomatoes or peppers? I’m planning on a variety of hot peppers myself!
Sporty Indoor Hobbies for Couples
- Working out/weightlifting
- Yoga for couples
- Rock climbing (at an indoor club)
- Ballroom dancing
- Irish dancing
- Square Dancing/Line Dancing
- Zumba classes
Keith and I take ballroom dancing classes online, even during COVID! Before the last cruise we took, we learned the chacha really well, along with reviewing the foxtrot and the swing. And it’s just fun to do for 15 minutes a night. Each video is only 3-5 minutes long, and they teach you one thing at a time. We really enjoy it!
And Connor just went rock climbing again this weekend for the first time in, well, forever! The COVID lockdown is over here, and a new rock climbing gym opened in our hometown right before COVID hit. He’s determined to use it enough to keep it open! When Rebecca and he were first married, they loved rock climbing together (and they will again!).
Events to Attend Together
- NASCAR races
- Sporting events, especially more minor league local ones
- Plays, dance performances, or comedians
- Music performances: symphonies, bands, worship groups
- Special museum or art gallery exhibits
- Film festivals or film clubs
These may be all closed for the foreseeable future, but when they reopen, consider season’s tickets for something. It gets you deliberate date outings, and it supports something in your community.
Games Hobbies for Couples
- Chess league
- Board game club (even start your own)!
- Euchre club (host your own euchre parties)
- Bridge club
- Strategy video game (my husband play just one game of Crusader Kings and it lasts for several months!)
We’ve also got a board game cafe in our hometown, which are getting increasingly popular. Go out to play a board game (or stay in), and you can try new ones and figure out which ones you like!
Educational Hobbies for Couples
- Touring art galleries and nearby historical sites
- Learning local history and becoming tour guides
- Tracing your family tree
- Planning an educational trip, like a rainforest trip to learn about nature or a European trip to trace some World War II battles. Do research together beforehand.
- Touring wineries
Income Producing Hobbies as a Couple
- Refinishing furniture
- Painting furniture
- Building furniture
- Yard sale/flea marketing and find items to refinish or repurpose
- Starting an etsy or ebay business
- Starting a blog on a topic you both enjoy
“How do I reconnect with my husband?” That’s a question I get in various forms from so many of you who email. Life has gotten too busy, you feel like you pass like ships in the night, and you just want to feel like you know each other again. As we progress into the new year, I thought it would be a good idea to look again at how to reconnect with your husband if you feel as if the previous year–or years!–has made you grow apart.
Here, for instance, are two questions quite typical of many that come in to the blog:
I am married to an emotionally distant man. We go through the motions of being married, but I have no idea what’s actually going on in his heart. In fact, I doubt there’s much there at all. And he certainly has no idea what’s going on in mine! We only have one child left at home and I’m afraid that when he leaves for college we’ll have nothing left between us.
I’m tired of feeling all alone! My husband doesn’t want to do anything except play on his computer or play video games. We never spent any time together. Shouldn’t marriage be about the two of you? I don’t know how much more loneliness I can take.
Okay, those are rather sad to start off our year. But I know many of you are lonely. So let’s set the stage here on what emotional connection looks like, what it doesn’t look like, and how we can move towards reconnecting.
Some truths about emotional connection
Connection is based on communication. In order to reconnect with your husband, there are five different levels of communication: cliches, facts, opinions, feelings, needs.
We can share facts about our day–“It was so busy today, the last client didn’t leave until 5:15, and I didn’t think I was going to get out of there.”
But we can also share feelings: “I’m not even sure I like this job. People put so many demands on you and it all seems so pointless. We’re not producing anything worthwhile anyway.”
And then you can get to the point of sharing needs: “I just feel like there’s more to life than this. When I’m in my shop with a saw and some wood, I feel like I’m creating something. But all day long at work I feel like I’m just chasing paper, playing some big game, that doesn’t mean anything. I need more than that.”
Do you see the difference?
Many couples never get beyond facts or opinions.
Here’s the problem: when you’re stuck at the facts or opinions level, tension is going to start to build up, because you’re not really emotionally connected. You don’t know anything about what’s going on in each other’s hearts.
And so with each interaction that is only surface level, it’s going to feel like you’re actually growing more distant. That’s right: talking may actually make you feel worse, if the talking isn’t about something important.
And you can’t just jump over several levels of communication and expect to be able to reconnect with your husband and get truly vulnerable or talk about your needs without starting to share consistently at some of the other levels.
That’s why the answer to grow emotional connection isn’t necessarily to do something big. If you start insisting on a date night, for instance, where it’s supposed to be all romantic, you’re almost guaranteed to be disappointed and hurt. There’s too much tension there to have the date night go well! Instead, it’s better to start with little things to put into your day that can help you connect, and then, once that connection is starting to be there, add some bigger things to your life regularly that are low-stress and low-pressure.
But first, a few more truths about how to reconnect with your husband:
Truth #1: Most men are not emotionally distant or emotionally unavailable
Some men may indeed be emotionally unavailable, but what I’ve found in so many marriages is that the couple has built up patterns of interaction that have made sharing feelings hard.
So ask yourself this–when we were dating, did I know what my husband was feeling and thinking? Did he talk about his needs? Was he vulnerable to me? If so, it’s unlikely he’s suddenly become completely emotionally unavailable. It’s more likely that life has made him stressed, or that you’ve gotten into negative patterns of relating that have cut you both off from each other.
If he never opened up to you, and you never felt emotionally close, that’s a bigger problem, and may require a licensed counselor.
Truth #2: Most people actually want a good marriage
The vast majority of people rank having a good marriage as a major goal of theirs.
Often when we’re distant, though, we assume: “he must be angry at me and doesn’t really love me anymore.” We project negative feelings on our husbands that they may not actually have. He just may feel awkward, stressed, or unsure of what to do. Most likely he wants to feel closer to you, too! But he probably feels a lot of failure when he’s around you, because you’re likely upset at the lack of communication, and he senses it. And when a guy senses that he’s disappointed you, he will tend to retreat.
Of course he shouldn’t do that! But that’s not really the point right now: the point I want you to grasp is that your husband most likely wants to reconnect with you, too! Few people honestly want to go through life feeling distant from their spouse.
So here’s your assignment: assume the best of him. Assume that he is not deliberately keeping you at arm’s length. It will make a huge difference!
(Again, if he honestly doesn’t want the best, then I’d suggest seeing a licensed therapist, but in the majority of cases, the husband does care).
Truth #3: Most people are lazy
We fall into these ruts, like playing video games all night or watching Netflix and never talking. And then those turn into habits. It’s hard to break a habit unless there’s something else vying for our attention. If you guys are used to separating at night, it’s going to be hard to start doing something together unless there’s an actual option ahead of you. So when he goes off and gets back on his computer after dinner, it isn’t necessarily that he’s deliberately abandoning you. He’s developed a habit. And he isn’t likely to break that habit unless there’s something else on the agenda for that night.
Truth #4: Men tend to appreciate low-key communication
Or, to put it another way, women tend to be more comfortable communicating face to face, when we’re sitting across the table sharing our hearts. Men tend to open up more when they communicate side by side, when they’re doing something together. If you try to force him to sit down and talk to you, he’ll likely feel very uncomfortable, like he’s on the spot. So try reconnecting by actually doing something!
Again–these are generalities. In your marriage it may work the other way, and sometimes different personality types make communication preferences quite different from what we’d normally assume. But often the generalities ring true!
This article originally appeared here, and is used by permission.
The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy says national surveys indication 15 percent of married women and 25 percent of married men have had extramarital affairs. When you include an emotional affair without intercourse, the percentage goes up another 20 percent!
(source: The New York Times, “When a Partner Cheats,” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/22/well/marriage-cheating-infidelity.html)
Yes, you read that right. Affairs don’t always involve sexual intercourse. A husband or wife can be unfaithful without that.
There is such a thing as an emotional affair, as opposed to a physical affair where sex is involved. You can indeed be unfaithful without having a sexual relationship.
We hear about this far too often. There is a concept that we talk about at our conferences—guarding your spouse’s heart by praying together. However, when a person outside of your marriage union is trying to attach to you by praying for you, he or she is trying to connect emotionally. We say that the person is not “praying” but “preying”—and you are the target. That’s how Christians so often get drawn in. They think they’re having this spiritual connection and that it’s pure, but too often the emotional wiring overloads and suddenly they are in a full-fledged affair. Even if sex has not occurred, the violation of the marriage is just as strong.
Years ago, a book titled Temptations Men Face described twelve steps to an adulterous relationship. The first ten merely lead up to step eleven—and none of the first ten involves sex. Instead, those first ten steps erode a man and woman to the point where they step into the sexual relationship at step eleven. It starts with a sense of readiness and alertness of another person, and then surprise meetings, then planned meetings, then non-affectionate touch, then passionate embracing. Step eleven is capitulation; that’s where the intercourse occurs. It’s important to understand that by the time the first ten steps have occurred, it’s not a big leap from ten to eleven. Step twelve then is the acceptance of the affair.
Women need to understand that if they are stepping into an inappropriate relationship with a man, it invariably will move toward sexual involvement. Men need to understand that women who are especially attentive may be seeking that kind of attachment.
Let’s take a look at the steps to an emotional affair:
Emotional affairs don’t necessarily start with an unhappy marriage. That may shock you. It can start with a look that simply says, “I find you interesting.” An emotional affair simply starts with a friend of the opposite sex—somebody at work, somebody at church, a neighbor, or even one of your kids’ teachers or coaches. You may begin to share intimate conversations about the things in your life that you hold dear—your kids, your walk with Christ, your views on the world. And then the biggest red flag is if you begin sharing about problems in your own marriage.
The second step is when honesty, vulnerability, and chemistry develop the friendship into romance. You go out of your way to see each other. You have private lunches together. You make or receive calls when your spouse is away.
As your emotional connection with this person grows, the connection in your marriage begins to crumble. You share more of your frustrations and triumphs with this other person than with your spouse. Arguments and conflicts arise in your marriage. You may pull away from your spouse and consistently turn to this friend for companionship and support. You no longer feel in love with your spouse.
From there it is a short step to the declaration of those feelings and to moving beyond an emotional attachment to a full-blown affair.
We always want to base everything we say in God’s Word. Matthew 5:27 says, “You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Jesus warned that the first look begins the connection that can eventually lead to emotional unfaithfulness and finally to full-blown adultery.
*For more practical marriage advice, check out The Great Marriage Q&A Book. It’s available in our online bookstore!