Your spouse is your best friend. And while romantic relationships and platonic friendships are different in many ways, friendship is at the root of every successful romantic relationship.
Platonic friendships are often developed amidst an environment of shared interest or passion that acts as the initial glue for the relationship. Work friendships share the bond of a culture that is unique to their work environment and friendships that develop on the golf course or in the yoga studio share a hobby-driven bond. However, romantic relationships are not necessarily driven by a shared environment or passion. While some do meet their spouses as a result of a shared interest, we live in the age of digital romances that don’t always develop so traditionally.
These types of non-traditional relationships might build their base on values like shared faith, complementary personalities or a similar sense of humor. And while these values are no-less important than shared interests—in fact, some would argue they are more vital—it is important to be intentional about connecting with your partner over the things that they love.
64% of married Americans believe that “having shared interests” is very important for a successful marriage, according to the Pew Research Center. In fact, shared interests actually ranked as more essential than a good sexual relationship or shared political beliefs. So, while a shared interest might not have initially attracted you to your partner, it might be beneficial to your long-term relationship to invest in your partner’s interests now.
By doing this, you’re not only showing your partner that you care about their passions, but you might just find yourself growing to really care about the topic as well.
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Start by showing your significant other that you genuinely want to know about their interests. Learning why that particular pastime makes them so happy can actually be an interesting insight into their personality and thought-processes. If your partner enjoys team sports, it could hint towards a need for community and physical activity. If they love to draw and paint in their spare time, they clearly have a creativity that needs to be expressed.
By asking questions about what they love, you not only affirm that your partner’s interests matter to you, but that you are interested in learning more about why they matter to them.
Your partner might have an interest that is completely foreign to you. If football is their passion and you have no idea what a touchdown is, it might be worthwhile to study up on the game enough that you can engage with it in an educated way. By taking the time to get to know the details around their interests, you will feel more empowered to confidently engage in them with your partner.
Once you’ve educated yourself, try joining it! This doesn’t mean—for example—that you have to sign-up for weekly golf lessons because your partner enjoys golf. But agreeing to learn how to hit the ball or simply riding along in the golf cart with your spouse every now and again is a great way to spend quality time. This often leads to a genuine desire to join and discover a new hobby or talent!
And when your partner attempts to engage in your interest, be patient in explaining about the topic and affirm their efforts.
Develop New Interests Together
Sometimes, all of your spouse’s interests simply don’t align with yours, and that’s ok! Giving one another space to enjoy personal interests independently is valuable for both of you. But in an effort to align on a shared activity, try something new with your partner. Sign up for a wine club or take a kickboxing class at the gym together. By establishing shared interests and activities, you both will have an opportunity to work together and bond over the process.
Ultimately, it’s not shared interests that will make or break your marriage—it’s simply another reinforcement of the bond between you and your spouse. Most importantly, even if you can’t find joy in their favorite hobby or pastime, it is essential to be interested in your partner, to experience joy in their joy and celebrate the beauty of what makes them unique and the person you’ve chosen to love.