I once heard of a couple in a deeply troubled marriage, one that had reached a crisis point. Divorce loomed. When it came to fixing the relationship, they didn’t even know where to start. That’s when the wife had a revelation. She realized it was time to do something drastic. She asked her husband to take her hunting.
It was his favorite activity, and though she had never shown any interest in it, she was committed to doing whatever it took to heal their strained marriage. The husband was shocked. In fact, he was so surprised he laughed when she told him. But he couldn’t think of a good reason to tell her no. Reluctantly, he took her along on a hunting trip the next weekend.
That trip saved their marriage. She’d never had any desire to hunt, but soon learned to enjoy it. The shared interest led to them doing other things together. They became friends again, and it restored their relationship.
Friendship: it’s where almost all marriage relationships begin, and it’s the glue that keeps your marriage from getting stale. Women tend to bond through meaningful conversation. Men bond through having fun together.
A healthy marriage includes both of those elements—open, honest conversation and the enjoyment of shared interests. Think about how men become buddies with each other. It’s not by having long, intimate discussions, but by doing stuff. They golf or ski. They play football, go camping, or fish and hunt. Men bond through recreation. That’s also how they long to connect with their wives. Numerous surveys indicate that men in happy marriages are far more likely to identify their wives as their “best friends. That’s the greatest compliment a man can give.
To put it bluntly, men are interested in fun and sex. Remove those things from a marriage—like in the example of the couple above—and you’re left with something closer to a living arrangement than a vibrant, healthy relationship. Unfortunately, many men find it difficult to grow close to another person…until recreation is involved. That’s when men become more open and vulnerable, sharing their hearts and talking about things they might otherwise keep to themselves.
Like soldiers in a foxhole, shared experiences around a campfire, on a golf course, or in a deer blind help build a sense of oneness between men and their recreational companions. It connects them.
Many wives don’t understand this dynamic. He has his hobbies and I have mine, they think, showing no interest in the things their husbands love. Men see this as a wife with no interest in drawing close to them. When you tell a man “I’m not interested in the things you do,” he hears this: “I’m not interested in you.” Accurate or not, that’s a dangerous message to send.
Husbands and wives who have fun together—traveling, sharing hobbies and activities, laughing and playing together—create a bond that’s not easily broken. A wife who becomes her husband’s friend will go a long way toward keeping him satisfied.