Sushi, talk radio, and Fox News. All things my husband Ted enjoyed when we got married.
Me…not so much. If given the choice, I preferred a visit to the dentist over watching Bill O’Reilly or reading a thread on Free Republic. And raw fish, well, unlike Ted and Tolkien’s Gollum, I didn’t care for food that was “raw and wriggling.” Okay, so I exaggerate. Ted didn’t like his food “wriggling” either.
I favored Hallmark Channel original movies, Gilmore Girls, and Dillard’s.
Yep, you guessed it, Ted…not so much. He found the dialogue on Gilmore Girls unrealistically witty and more than an hour at the mall left him with a headache. Oh, and Hallmark movies? I’ve since banned him from watching them with me; he heckles.
The good thing is our common interests outnumbered our differences, but that doesn’t mean those differences haven’t provided challenges at times. A friend recently shared with me that “the balancing act of being allowed to be two separate people inside of a one-flesh marriage” can be hard. She’s right.
So how do you hold on to your unique interests and still grow together as a couple? In our marriage, we’ve found this can be done in three ways:
1. Build on common interests.
I’m convinced one reason Ted pursued me is because I wrote music reviews. He’s a piano, synth, and organ player and was knee-deep as an engineer on a CD for our church when we met. Music was an interest we built on. It still is today.
While our musical tastes aren’t exact, (I can’t appreciate Flyleaf and Red at the heart-pounding volume levels he does) our love for music is an area we continue to grow in together. And because we do have common “likes”—Andrew Peterson albums on melancholy days, black-and-white Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall flicks, and authentic Mexican food at our local dive—the places where our interests diverge don’t divide us. We don’t feel the need to force the other person to enjoy all the same things.
2. Don’t force change where it doesn’t really matter.
Now and then Ted offers to let me read the Free Republic threads he comments on. I have on a few occasions. Honestly, though, it doesn’t intrigue me or get my blood boiling the way it does for him. So he doesn’t push it on me.
A few times I’ve left a copy of The Hunger Games on his nightstand, hoping he’ll read it. I’ve even given him the “you’ll love the politics in it” spiel. He has yet to crack the book. So I backed off.
Whether we read all the same websites or books isn’t marriage-shattering for us. It’s okay that we don’t always favor the same things since we are confident in our connection at a deeper level. While we may have day-to-day differences, we’re on common ground heart-to-heart.
3. Learn to stretch.
Sure, Ted doesn’t push Fox News on me and I put The Hunger Games back on the shelf, but that doesn’t mean we don’t at least try to take an interest in what the other likes. We’ve both learned to stretch ourselves.
While I don’t think Ted will ever like Gilmore Girls, he’s given other shows such as Downton Abbey a chance. He’s now as addicted as I am!
Me? I’m now listening to NPR—and gasp!—actually enjoying some of it. And sushi? Well, I like that now too—as long as I stick with spicy tuna or salmon. And you know what? I’ve found exploring new interests not only make me a better wife, but a richer individual.
The years have shown us that Ted’s tastes are more like a sledge hammer: scream-o, blisteringly hot Thai food, dark dystopian films. Mine are more subtle: JJ Heller, chicken noodle soup over mashed potatoes, and Cary Grant screwball comedies. But that’s okay. Oil and vinegar may not exactly blend, but they do make for a tasty dressing.
Within our one-flesh marriage, we’ve found a happy balance. It allows “yours,” “mine,” and “ours” to co-exist quite nicely.