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How not to hate the hobbies of the people you love


Five ways to support your spouse's passion in life, even when it's not your own.

I can’t think of many things more boring than standing by the side of a body of water, throwing some line out attached to a stick, and waiting for a fish to hopefully see it and bite. But my husband thinks it’s one of the best things in life.

Houston, we have a problem. 

My husband would go fishing every weekend, and more than once if he could, while I would choose pretty much anything over that particular, ahem, sport. Both of us have figured out how to compromise over time, because, well, that’s what love is all about. I want him to be able to enjoy the sport he loves, and he wants me to enjoy my weekends.

One obvious solution to this is that he goes fishing while I stay home and do other things that I enjoy. But we live downtown, and to get to a body of water that is fishable is quite a drive. So, a fishing expedition takes half a day at least. And we have a toddler I’m home with during the week, so by the time the weekend comes and we both have time off, we really want to spend time all together.

So, our compromise involves going fishing every other weekend. We go together, and while my husband fishes, my son and I explore the surrounding area. It might turn it into a nice hike when he’s older, but for right now, it’s more of a “Don’t swallow the rocks, spit them out!” “Stay away from the edge of the water!” Or my more frantic, but surefire redirection tactic: “Oh my goodness, I think I see someone hiking with a dog, let’s go check it out!”

But it does us all good to be outside and moving. And while I don’t enjoy standing with a fishing rod, I do enjoy being outside, listening to the water, and sitting on a nice rock in the warm sunshine.

I also recognize that fishing is a good and wholesome way to spend time. So there’s nothing for me to object to in that respect. And fishing doesn’t hurt our time together as a family when we all embrace it a couple times a month.

So if you are in a similar situation, and have a loved one who enjoys a hobby that you really do not like, here are a few ways to be supportive:

Find the positive

Figure out if there is something you can like about the hobby. The snacks involved? The place you have to go to do the activity? The people who also like the hobby?

Support from the sidelines

Is there a way you can support your friend, spouse, or relative without participating in the activity? Can you cheer from the sidelines? Can you help them set up and clean up?

Give them time

You can also support someone by just making sure they have time to do their hobby. If your best friends want to go to the shooting range, offer to watch their kids so they can go. If your mom wants to go to a quilting festival, but can’t drive because of her recent surgery, offer to give her a ride.

Listen to them talk about it

Read up enough about the favored activity online so that you have a basic understanding of it, and then ask questions from your loved one, the expert, to help you understand. Fake it ‘til you make it is actually a good rule of thumb here. Fake interest until something about the hobby actually interests you.

Join them

What’s holding you back from actually participating in their activity? Yes, it might not be your favorite, but is it something you can try a few times to show them your love and support?

You don’t need to enjoy all your loved ones’ hobbies — and vice versa! — but look for the ways you can support each other. While I can’t imagine ever falling in love with fishing, I do love my husband and want to show him that his happiness is important to me, as I know mine is to him.

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