I birdied the twelfth hole!”
my boyfriend cried excitedly. “It was awesome. I holed out from the bunker.”
Birdy? What? He killed a bird? … Bunker? Is there a war going on?
All this golf talk made my head spin. It was like a foreign language. The extent of my golf knowledge consisted of knowing that Tiger Woods was a famous golfer. And—you know what?—I was fine with that limited knowledge.
Although my boyfriend loved golf, I had no interest in sharing his love. Golf was, well, boring. I mean, come on, walking around a giant lawn all day hitting dimpled white balls into 18 holes in the ground. It didn’t seem like much fun to me—sounded more like torture. Miniature golf was long enough! Yet, my boyfriend’s love for golf far outweighed my distaste for it.
One afternoon, my mom urged, “You should learn about his hobbies.” She looked at me with a playful smile. “You should learn about golf.”
I rolled my eyes. “No way!” If I had to learn about his interests, golf was definitely at the bottom of the list.
A few days later I read,
Greater love has no man than this: that he should lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
“Lay down his life for his friends,” rang through my head.
Love means sacrifice…to the point of death if necessary. If I love someone, I will sacrifice for him. That doesn’t only mean I’ll take a bullet to spare his life. It means I will put myself second, put his needs above my own. And—I sighed in defeat—it means that I should sacrifice in the little thing, like being bored for the sake of learning what he’s passionate about.
So, I googled “golf for dummies” and impressed him with all my fancy new lingo. I asked questions and actually listened to his answers—although they were often more detailed than I could comprehend. I took mental notes, I tried hard to remember, and I learned who Phil Mickelson was.
The rewards of sacrifice
It wasn’t easy, but after a while, I was excited that I could speak somewhat coherently about golf. My eyes didn’t glaze over when my friend’s husband started talking about his recent golf tournament. And, although I still prefer a good book over swinging a club, I’ve found joy in setting down my book and listening to my boyfriend discuss his hard-earned victories on the golf course.
But the best part about my “sacrifice” was hearing him say, “I know you don’t really like golf, but it means a lot to me that you’ve taken an interest in it.”
My best friend had a similar experience when she started taking an interest in her husband’s work in the Air Force. Although it was complicated, she learned to speak “Air Force” and used the vocabulary in conversation with her husband and his coworkers. He was thrilled that she made an effort to learn about his world. And that small sacrifice has brought them closer.
God showed me that sacrificing little things makes a big statement.
The blessing returned
But the story doesn’t end there. The sacrifice has been reciprocated. Not that we should learn about our boyfriend’s/husband’s hobbies so they’ll learn about ours. However, it is wonderful when they make an effort to support us in our interests as well.
My boyfriend knows how much I love ballet, so he sits through my students’ ballet recitals without complaining (even though I’m backstage and not even sitting with him!). He also shells out the dough to take me to shows. He even told me, “I know how much you love ballet but I don’t know much about it. Will you put together a list of ballet companies that you’d like to see and when they’re in town so that I can plan a date night for us?”
How sweet is that?
Steps to learning about what they love
- Choose one of his/her areas of interest to focus on. It can be overwhelming if you tackle all of their hobbies at once. So, focus on one area and get a good grasp of that before moving to the next.
- Devote some time to it. This might be as simple as reading about it online, or it might mean borrowing a book on the subject or taking a lesson.
- Get him/her involved. After learning a bit on your own, start asking him questions about it. Have him show you how he takes apart a car engine and ask him questions about it as he works. Or have him teach you how to play a chord on the guitar.
- Be genuine. If you’re faking an interest, he/she will see right through it.
- Be open to falling in love with their hobby. You may find yourself actually enjoying it nearly as much as they do! I know one woman who started watching football with her husband, and now she won’t miss a game!
It may take time and effort but it’s worth it! By investing time into what your partner does, you are investing in your relationship. You will reap smiles, genuine appreciation, and, best of all, a richer fellowship.