Talking to Your Husband About His Time-Sucking Hobbies

Remember the weekends when you and your husband could do whatever you wanted? Ah, those were the days. He could play basketball with friends Saturday afternoon while you worked out and had girlfriend time. No nagging. Well, when kids arrive, balancing hobbies and marriage becomes way more tricky. Family life can feel like trying to fit seventeen elephants into a purse—there simply aren’t enough resources, time, or energy.

Moms often sacrifice their hobbies before their husbands do because of the nature of motherhood. Kids rely on us more from the very beginning. But wives rely on husbands and after a while, if he has hobbies that take him away, his absence can start to hurt. Have you been there? Maybe your husband’s hobbies have made it seem as if he’s working two full-time jobs and you are burned out. Maybe it’s time to get real with him about ditching some of his extracurriculars. Here are 9 tips for making that conversation a success.

1. Pick the right time.

Beginning the dialogue when he’s late will sound like nagging and is not going to gain his understanding. Pick a time when the mood is relaxed, the kids are elsewhere, and you can focus exclusively on one another.

2. Join “Team Husband.”

Communicate that you want him to do the things that bring him joy. Assure him you are committed to helping him continue to do what he loves.

3. Express feelings.

Use this template: “When you do ________ for ___ hours at a time, I feel [insert your emotion here].” It will give him a window into your experience without feeling like you are attacking or threatening him. Avoid blaming him or his hobbies. Just tell him the difficulties you’re having. This will give him space to be empathetic and help him avoid jumping to extremes or getting defensive.

4. Talk about priorities.

Gently remind him we are called first to be children of God, second to marriage, third to parenthood, and fourth to everything else. God, your spouse, and your children deserve the best, not what’s left over.

5. Schedule it.

As the saying goes, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” In my marriage, failing to plan creates an additional struggle. If we start out the day with differing expectations, one of us feels blindsided. Over-communicating is never possible in marriage. Plan the week ahead and factor in all necessary activities first. Then schedule hobbies in the free times. This helps avoid resentment and keeps expectations clear.

6. Get help.

If the budget allows or if your husband has a demanding job in which his hours or commute limit free time, consider investing in childcare. Can you budget for a babysitter? If not, can you trade babysitting hours with other families?

7. Get essential.

Hone in together on what gives him satisfaction or excitement in his hobby. How can he modify his behavior but still get that satisfaction? Perhaps skip the weekend-long motorcycle convention and opt for an hour-long ride with buddies instead.

8. Involve the kids.

Think outside the box. Can he take children with him? Can he turn the hobby into a family event? As a child, I looked forward to joining my dad for his favorite hobby, which was fishing trips. It was special quality time (and my mom never objected to free time by herself).

9. Be bravely honest and compassionate.

Avoid resentment of your spouse at all costs. Bring up issues at the earliest opportunity. Although cutting back may be necessary and good, it will still be painful and he will miss what he is giving up. Expressing gratitude and appreciation of his sacrifice often and intentionally will go a long way. It may be difficult or impossible to get what you both want in the grind of responsibilities and seasons of sacrifice, but welcoming each other’s thoughts and feelings mutually eases the burden.

How have you successfully discussed balancing hobbies and marriage?

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