Making a Marriage Work when our Interests are Completely Different (part 2)

So you have completely different interests… what do you share? Do you have similar values? Do you like to vacation? Do you parent well together? Do you share similar views on your finances? Do you have a great sex life? Are you comfortable with each another? What do you respect about one another? Perhaps you have been focusing so much on your lack of common interests that you have forgotten what you share; consider what you have in common. Can you go back in time and remember the things that attracted you in the beginning? Perhaps they still exist. What can you appreciate about your partner?

Make a list by paying attention to the things that don’t frustrate you; notice the things you like. Whenever you find yourself thinking about how different your interests are, focus instead on the things you value, respect, and appreciate about your partner.

The next step is to make plans to pursue your own interests. It may mean reviving old friendships or making new ones. Just because you are married does not mean you have to do everything joined at the hip with your spouse. You will want to be careful to not form friendships that could complicate your marriage with physical or emotional attraction to someone else, but form “safe” friendships with others who share your varied interests or perhaps pursue them on your own. Your goal is not to make your spouse jealous, but simply to enjoy the things that are important to you.

Once your needs are being met through engaging in things you value, try to become involved in one or two of your spouse’s interests. See if there is something you can find of value in the things that are important to him or her. I once worked with a couple who had dissimilar interests—he loved to fish and she loved reading. They don’t seem to go together, but when he would plan a fishing trip, she would go along with a book. He would fish from his boat and she would be in the boat with him, reading her book. It made for quiet companionship with each of them engaged in something they loved. Can you think of a way to do something like this with your spouse?

Divorce is always an option, but as long as you are not being physically abused, I am biased in the direction of creating a relationship where both of you can be happy. Start with yourself—you can’t control your spouse’s happiness, but becoming happier yourself could influence your spouse in that same direction.


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