Early in our marriage, after we’d been blessed with a couple of children, it became clear that my wife, Barbara, and I needed to develop some common interests as a couple. We needed something we could enjoy together, apart from children and work, that encouraged us to spend time together.
Unfortunately, it was also apparent that Barbara and I were very different — she likes to work in the yard, and I like adventure, hunting and fishing. So after much discussion, we both agreed that we’d join one another in pursuing our different hobbies. She picked yard work and gardening. I chose hunting and adventure. Because a great marriage is made up of a husband and wife who’ve learned the art of self-sacrifice, we were both going to have to do things we didn’t necessarily like.
My dislike of yard work came out in pithy quotes, like “You cannot raise children and grass simultaneously.” Nonetheless, I enrolled in the perpetual weekend school of horticulture. Early on, my “martyr meter” beeped loudly, protesting such lowly use of a spring day. But I’ve since learned the difference between annuals and perennials. I’ve even hybridized day lilies, whose spectacular blooms rimmed our yard . . . until the deer chewed ’em all the way to the ground, which brings me back to hunting.
Barbara has gone hunting with me, she has learned how to fly-fish, and she’s been to Alaska with me on an adventure that remains one of the highlights of our married life.
After 41 years of marriage, I have to admit that I’ve appreciated the fruit of our efforts. We’ve enjoyed endless conversations as we’ve worked together, and we now see that the benefits have far surpassed the sacrifices we made individually. The most important fruit in our marriage is that we’ve found fresh ways to do something meaningful together and enjoy each other’s presence.
Are you ready for a challenge? Schedule a date night to talk about hobbies that each of you enjoys and why you’d like to share them with each other. Then choose one from your list and one from her list. As you step into each other’s worlds, don’t get discouraged if your wife doesn’t develop an instant love for your hobby. It took me about 10 years to truly enjoy gardening with Barbara — but eventually, “her yard” became “our yard.”
Dennis Rainey is the president and CEO of FamilyLife.