Several nights a week, I go to bed with a slight headache and an acute adrenaline high because I am learning to play the video game, HALO, and last Christmas, a friend of mine bought an X-Box. Together, we are slowly working our way through each alien-destroying level of the entire HALO Master Chief collection.
On the weekends, I often go spear fishing or SCUBA diving, utterly exposed in the deep open waters off Hawaii’s coast because a friend likes sharks and wants to see them up close and personal.
Some other times, I perform co-pilot duties 2,000 feet above the ocean in a rickety, little Cessna airplane. With my friend who got a private pilot’s license last year and likes to island hop around Hawaii.
Who is this overly adventurous friend of mine you might ask? My husband, Eric of course! These are just a few of the activities that Eric and I do together. Had it been up to me, I’m not sure I would have chosen some of these hobbies. I’ve always poked fun at those who rot their brains playing video games, and as for the ocean, I’m pretty much terrified of sharks. But, a good friendship means taking some risks and taking an active interest in the things your friends like to do.
I have heard couples (both husbands and wives) express that their spouse doesn’t spend enough time with them. The wife spends too much time with her friends, the husband spends too much time with his friends or both of them spend too much time pursuing their own interests and hobbies.
But Eric and I knew from the beginning we didn’t want that to be us. We have made it a point to never lose sight of the “friendship” part of our marriage. That sounds like a no-brainer, I know, but as life gets in the way, it’s so easy to slip into something that feels a lot less like a friendship—something that feels more like a business partnership.
It’s always healthy to have your own interests, but a healthy relationship shares a certain degree of like pursuits, hobbies, and mutual friends.
I like an article in Psychology Today entitled, “Love Without Friendship Doesn’t Last Forever” by Suzanne Vegges-White Ph.D. She says that, “Sexual desire may ebb and flow over the course of a relationship, but friendship and companionship are the fuels that keeps a couple moving forward.” In other words, relationships are strengthened through shared experiences, the type of experiences that friends typically pursue intentionally with one another.
I’ll probably never be an expert “gamer,” but my initial skepticism about video games has given way to a fun, new experience that I now share regularly with my husband. We are enriched by each other’s interests and this always gives us new stuff to talk about. You don’t have to be underwater or high above the clouds to bond with your spouse, but by being open to that new TV show, that road trip, that sport, that book, that “fill-in-the-blank” activity—one can really put the fuel of “friendship” back into the relationship.