Have you ever taken time to reflect on what your significant other or spouse likes to do with their spare time?
Have you ever taken notice of what they like to talk about or become really passionate about? And now I ask, how often do you reflect that joy and excitement back to them? Well for me, it was rare.
My husband, Zach, likes cars. Not necessarily driving cars, but updating them and modifying them and spending hours upon hours in our 110 degree garage sawing and tweaking and scraping away at his car. And to be honest, I just don’t understand it. The fact that he likes to spend his free time and money on car parts and pieces and products is so foreign to me. When I see a car I think, ‘oh a piece of metal and engineering that gets me from point A to point B.’ But when Zach sees a car, he thinks ‘wow, look at the lift and those tires and that type of car has ‘x’ engine and has ‘x’ horsepower.’ I just stare at him blank completely overwhelmed and utterly confused by everything he just said and once again I think to myself, why does he love this?
When Zach and I were early on in our marriage, he began to tell me that he has a passion for cars and working on them and reading about them. I probably shrugged it off and didn’t think much of it. Then a few months later in our marriage, he tells me that he’s always dreamed of owning a 4runner to go off-roading in and that he really, really wants one. I shrugged it off again and moved on. But then I started noticing he was watching car modification videos on YouTube and following 4runner modification accounts on social media, and every time we would drive by a modified truck he would point it out and rattle off every spec and detail about it. I started to become very hyperaware that he was very much interested in cars and learning about them and he desperately desired to talk about it.
And what did I do? Nothing. I attempted to deflect conversation about it or avoid bringing up the topic of cars altogether or looked at him confused every time he would talk about it.
Now, we did eventually sell his car and buy him his dream car so that he could modify it and tweak it, but I still felt like I was in the dark, watching from the sidelines as he talked about it or worked on it. Every time Zach would talk about cars or mention modifications, I would shy away from the conversation or would nod along and change the subject As much as Zach would try engage me in conversation, explain things to me, or try to help me see why he enjoyed cars so much, I never truly participated or reflected his joy back to him. I stood off to the side as he worked on his car and once again I was completely overwhelmed and utterly confused as to why he loved it so much. I could not see the importance in his desire to work on cars and study them and talk about them. I was not purposely trying to be hard hearted or stubborn, it’s just that because I didn’t understand why he loved what he loved, I therefore couldn’t get myself to love it for him.
And this is how things continued for a year. He would become very excited and passionate about something he just learned and I would become detached every time he brought it up. Cars were not important to me and therefore I reasoned they shouldn’t be so important to him. And that’s where I was wrong.
Zach is an amazing man who has supported me from the day I met him. When I decided to go to Physician Assistant school, he would study with me and listen to me talk about it day after day. When I decided that I wanted to learn calligraphy, he bought me all the supplies I could have ever dreamed of and would let me talk his ear off about everything I was learning. And when I decided that I wasn’t going to go to graduate school and was going to start my own business, he faithfully (and still does) listen to me ramble every single day about the difficulties and triumps in owning a business. He has never once told me that doing art, creating, and owning my business was a waste of time or uninteresting to him. He has never once become annoyed at my many conversations or been unwilling to talk about my business with him. And why? Because Zach understands the importance in loving what his spouse loves.
Why You Should Love What Your Spouse Loves
For your spouse, you are their biggest cheerleader, confidant, supporter and friend. And as a spouse, you desire to encourage and build the other up. You want to seem them joyful and filled with purpose. And what’s an easy and important way of doing that? Loving what they love to do and talk about and participate in! I guarantee that if you took some time and asked other couples, who you admire for their marriage, what one of their top tips and tricks was, you would find that supporting and encouraging the other in what they loved to do was a top priority. Joyful and successful marriages are ones in which each individual feels loved, heard, and respected. They feel like their time and interests are valued. It allows them to feel secure in the relationship and supported. You are loving them in an unconditional way just as Christ would.
And that’s what Zach exemplifies for me. If it weren’t for the fact that he’s married to me, he probably would have no idea what calligraphy or embroidery art was. He is not inherently interested in learning about it or hearing about it. But I am passionate about it, so Zach learned to be passionate, too. When I am joyful and excited, he reflects my joy back to me. When I want to run to a craft store to pick up new supplies, he comes with me. When we’re out with friends or his co-workers, he’s my personal hype man. He loves calligraphy and embroidery art now because I love calligraphy and embroidery art.
And through Zach, I learned the importance and example of loving what my spouse loves. I have learned to engage in and be apart of Zach’s conversations and enjoyment over cars. I have learned to ask more questions and seek to understand what he’s talking about. Does that mean I love cars? No. But I love Zach, and Zach loves cars, so I am showing him I love him by respecting and supporting his love for cars.
How to Love What Your Spouse Loves
Engage in Conversation: is your spouse mentioning their passion again? Pause, take a breath, and engage with them. Ask questions, show genuine enthusiasm, or seek to understand.
Initiate Conversation: read about it or see something you know they’ll appreciate? Tell them! Let them know that you are listening to their conversations and are supporting their passions.
Educate Yourself: show that you care and love them by learning about what they love. Do some basic research or ask your spouse questions or for their help in understanding. For example, I now understand what a skid plate is, how to tighten up and prepare a car winch, and how to ‘pick a line’ when off-roading.
Participate Alongside Them: are they going to a convention, seminar, or on a trip for their passion? Go with them and show that you love them by your willingness to take time to be with them.
Cover Everything in Love: Zach’s love for my creative passions is a Christ-like love. It’s selfless and sacrificial and gentle and patient. He leads me well by supporting me and building up my desires. And that’s the same love to have for your spouse, one that is not self-seeking but thinks of the needs of the other first.
Loving What Your Spouse Loves Takes Time and Practice
Showing love to your spouse by loving what they love can take time and practice, but it’s a sign of maturity as person and within your relationship.
So I ask you: what does your spouse love to do? Workout or play sports, craft or create, go to their job or participate in a group? Next time they bring it up, engage with them by showing interest, enthusiasm, and asking questions. They will feel loved because they feel heard. You don’t have to understand their passion in order to support it and encourage it. Even better? Initiate the conversation and maybe have some facts or insights researched and ready to share.