Does It Really Matter If You Share Interests with Your Partner?


I'll have what she's having

by Maddie Eisenhart, Chief Revenue Officer

woman sitting at computer next to a man playing video games

Do you want to see how far I can spit?

This is the one of the very first things I said to my husband when we met as teenagers. At fifteen, I was at the peak of my “cool girl” phase. I had recently purchased the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Football, was considering taking a shop class at the vocational school so I could learn how to fix a car, and had been diligently practicing my distance spitting, all in the hopes of impressing boys.

Spoiler alert: it worked.

In the early parts of our relationship, Michael and I bonded over a mutual admiration of big trucks and our out-of-place nostalgia for ’80s hair bands. Our shared interests helped bridge the gap in our personalities and gave us something to talk about when we were bored.

Now it’s fourteen years later, and sometimes I think we could not have more discordant interests. Here is a brief list of things we have in common:

  • Core values
  • Our dog
  • A desire to own goats at some point in our lives
  • Travel style
  • Political leanings
  • An extensive to-watch list on Hulu and Netflix

Here is a brief list of the things we do not have in common:

  • Spitting
  • His love of cars
  • My love of Beyoncé
  • Patience for super long board games
  • Whose favorite city sucks more (he’s Boston, I’m New York)
  • Preferred leisure activities
  • Political engagement
  • The ability to see/care about color
  • TV shows not on our shared watch list

On the big issues, I’ve found compromise relatively easy. Michael didn’t want to live in the city and I ended up hating the suburbs, so we found a third option that suits us both (hello, farm.) But on the small stuff? The small differences sometimes feel insurmountable. Because no matter how hard I try to convince him, Michael is just never going to love Beyoncé (I mean, a girl can hope, but you know). I’m never going to want to play more than forty-five minutes of any board game. And luckily we have a wonderful friend group to pick up the slack.

Most days, I feel really okay with our differences. I like having a space in the world that’s all my own. I like that my partner and I challenge each other to explore new interests. I like that our differences encourage us to have a rich and diverse friend group. And sometimes I deeply enjoy the quiet comfort of being with my partner, with nothing to say, taking in the world side-by-side.

But on my insecure days, I worry. I worry that we should have more shared interests. I worry that the couples who can spend every waking moment with each other have figured out a secret I haven’t. I worry that I pulled a bait and switch on my partner because I used to be one way, and now I’m different. But then I think maybe this is just a natural progression of being with someone for a long time. Sometimes you have more overlap, and sometimes you don’t. Right now, we’re having to work to find those common interests, and I’m trying really hard not to read too much into it.

In the meantime, I figure putting in a little extra effort is a good place to start. We’ve made a pact to try at least an hour of something that the other likes each week, with no complaints. Things like nerdy board games involving centaurs and elves (my concession to Michael), and making GIFs for APW (his concession to all of us). And so far? It’s working really well. Activities that start out with begrudging compliance usually turn into enthusiastic participation (probably because I’m whooping Michael at nerdy board games).

So maybe the secret to long-term mutual interests is just… fake it until you make it? With the notable exception of spitting. That was probably just a bad idea.

But I’m curious to know what you think: How important is it to have shared interests with your partner? Is that what friends are for? Or does a lifetime of togetherness hinge on having lots to talk about? What are the real ties that bind?

Maddie Eisenhart

Maddie is APW’s Chief Revenue Officer. She’s been writing stories about boys, crushes, and relationships since she was old enough to form shapes into words, but received her formal training (and a BS) from NYU in Entertainment and Mass Media in 2008. She now spends a significant amount of time thinking about trends on the internet and whether flower crowns will be out next year. A Maine native, Maddie currently lives on a pony farm in the Bay Area with her husband, Michael and their mastiff puppy. Current hair color: Purple(ish).

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  • Sarah

    I’d suggest picking a new hobby together instead of each of you trying a partner’s hobby that you already know you don’t like. My husband and I are lucky in that we have a lot of shared interests, but we also have a lost of separate interests. He’s just never going to like opera, and that’s ok with me.. I’m never going to play ultimate frisbee and he’s fine with that. We do our separate things separately and enjoy them just the same. And then we come together with our shared interests: running, cycling, hiking, etc. I’m much happier taking a Saturday hike with him – something we know we both enjoy – than forcing either one of us to engage in something we don’t like, just for the sake of sharing it w/ a partner.

    • Lauren

      I second this. My husband and I have Super Sundays, where we make it a point to visit somewhere new. It gets us out of the house and experiencing (and usually enjoying) new things together. It allows us to have first experiences together, which really helps us feel more bonded. It also makes our separate time more enjoyable. We don’t have to worry about not spending quality time with each other because we have Super Sundays to enjoy, just the two of us.

      • Carolyn S

        What kind of new places do you visit? we live in a smallish city with not a ton within a 2 hour drive and so it’s hard to think of new activities to do together. Maybe I’m just not being creative enough?

        • Lauren

          We’re always looking for good eats, so we try out new restaurants and grocery stores ( I just found an Asian supermarket that carries reaaaallly tasty shrimp chips, for instance). Also? We’re huge bloody mary fans so we’ll go to random bars and see if they have Sunday bloody mary bars. We explore a lot of new parks and nature preserves in the summertime, too. It’s all pretty minor stuff, but still fun!

          • Cellistec

            Total tangent…are the shrimp chips the kind you microwave and they puff up?

          • Lauren

            Haha, no. But I have had microwavable pork rinds. NOT a good idea.

          • Cellistec

            Yeah, that sounds gross. I had the microwaveable shrimp chips in Vietnam recently and was fascinated by them…they’re like microwave popcorn meets, uh, shrimp. Fun to make and fun to eat! Though they don’t really taste like shrimp.

        • a single sarah

          I love the grocery store ingredient adventure Lauren suggested! But I’ve also lived in places where even that would be hard.

          When I lived in a tiny town, I was still amazed at the number of parks, trails, and secluded lakes there were. When I visit now, I’m jealous of ones that my friends found after I left! Not helpful if you’re an indoor person but totally a possibility.

          Also, keep an eye on local events to discover that new cover band at at the local bar or town festival a half hour away.

  • Kate

    I think it all depends on how these different interests affect your time together. If one person has an all-consuming hobby that takes up a lot of their time and focus then it may be a necessity for their partner to also love and participate in said hobby. Most other differences in interests are workable though. I will never play volleyball, it terrifies me. But I will come to a couple of my partner’s games and enjoy watching him do what he loves. It’s sexy watching one’s partner excel at something that’s totally their jam.

    • Yes. volleyball is a waking nightmare! I’m just so happy to hear that someone else feels the same way! It feels like everyone in the world loves it and just will not believe that I am much happier watching than playing.

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    • Sarah E

      For sure. It was somewhat of a struggle for me to find things to occupy my time solo early on in our relationship when we had just moved in together, so it irked me a lot more when my partner could easily spend hours doing the same thing (video games) with no issue. I’ve gotten a lot better at occupying myself, but I’ve also gotten better at asking when I’d like time together, as my easy-going partner will certainly save his game and come back to it.

      It also helps that I go to bed earlier, so he can always fit in more game time in the later hours.

    • CII

      This is a really good point. I have a relationship marked by a number of shared interests, but notably, none of those interests are really particularly time-intensive or all-consuming. They are….much more mellow — reading, walking / hiking, eating, listening to music, watching movies. The same is true of our not shared interests: I go to book club once a month and occasionally go to shows with friends without my husband, and he might go to game night or frisbee-playing with his friends. But those are occasional and minimal as to time commitment. Neither of us has anything that we’re particularly passionate about that requires a lot of money or time (e.g., training for a triathalon or competitive sailing). If one of us were to develop something like that as an interest, that would be a big difference in our relationship, however, that would require a broader conversation / adjustment.

  • Sarah

    My husband does happen to love Beyonce and we are going to see her next month for my birthday/finishing first year of law school present (!!!)

    But, nowadays we have a pretty big split in our two most consuming interests (theater for him, law….for me. I cant stop thinking about it) and its actually been weird not to have that in common to talk about. Its different now that I have been all consumed by law school and suddenly my world is something he knows nothing about. But we had a hell of a lot in common before, so maybe it balances.

    The things that keep us ticking are having something to engage with intellectually/in conversation together, usually politics, tv and movies, or a book we read together (highly recommend); our mutual love of our cats; and just going around doing stuff. We sort of are one of those couples that, were it not for our careers we’d hang out all the time…

    • Kate

      Amen to things that keep us ticking, for us it’s the wonderfully weird The Last Man on Earth.

  • Kara

    Oooh this is fun. My husband and I graduated with the same degree, and we work in the same industry, doing the same job–just for different companies. We can discuss work, but we have to be careful about discussing technology, clients, and specifics. However, we have a shared love of: our dogs and cats, geology, hiking/camping, and tv/movies.

    Hobbies that we don’t have in common:
    Him – martial arts
    Him – gardening
    Him – video games (I used to play, but not interested any more)
    Him – games on his phone

    Me – reading / book club
    Me – cooking
    Me – wine & cheese

    There are some shows/movies we love to watch together, and others we just watch on our own. I don’t believe you need the same hobbies at all. I just think you need to be able to respect each others interests. If you can’t respect what they enjoy, that’s going to be tough.

  • Jessica

    Maddie, our lists are nearly identical, but replace “love of Beyonce” into “love of Hamilton.” (Don’t get me wrong, Beyonce slays, I’m just not as obsessed with her as I am about the musical featuring the “ten dollar founding father.” See also: I like cooking, he does not. He likes his garage, I don’t have any thoughts about it except that our car cant’ fit into it.

    I’ve found that our house and having mutual friends has helped a lot. We work on projects together. I read books while he reads about the Marvel Comic Universe. It all shakes out into a nice little venn diagram of interests.

  • Eenie

    We don’t have all the same interests, but we have the same values. We value our pets, eating healthy food, and building a home together. So even though he spends 8 hours straight playing the division some days, we also spent all of Sunday building a custom pull up rig in our basement for when we work out.

    I think there are things we both enjoy doing, things one of us enjoys that the other person doesn’t hate, and things that only one of us enjoys doing at all. And as long as the balance between those three categories works for both people, there’s no concern.

  • Juanita

    Hmmm this is interesting because both of our interests are mostly solo things. Like reading, computer games, writing, building things. But we both love games, going out to eat, and spending time outdoors. We work really different hours and fields though so we don’t have a lot of time to just hang so we tend to stick together over the weekend and find things we want to do together. But while I often get relationship insecurity when I start comparing it to others, I love that we can be silent together and just enjoy each others company. It feels good that we can just be ourselves. Plus we allow the other person to talk about the things the other person loves. For example I’m not into Star Wars so when the new one came out he went with a friend and when he came home he tol me d everything he enjoyed (and thought was dumb). It was something I could do for him, without having to sit through it.

  • Teresa

    I worried a lot about this at first, but after ten years together, I’ve found that we have gained a lot of interests from each other, found common ground, and found a lot of new, shared experiences. As you said, if your core values are well-aligned, I don’t think there is much to actually worry about. For example, I hate a lot of my husband’s music, which is the thing that matters most to him, and he hates a lot of mine, but over the years, we’ve found a lot of things that we like to listen to together and we’ve exposed each other to bands we may not have heard without the other person. And there is some music we listen to when the other person isn’t home or while we’re at work. I’ve always loved reading, he thought it was fine, but I’ve kind of rubbed off on him, especially as I taught him how to find books he actually will enjoy. As you say, sometimes you have to put in the effort. I see how you might feel anxious about it, but just have patience with each other!

  • Jenny

    What happens when friend groups can’t/don’t pick up the slack? It’s hard to make friends as an adult in a new place (especially when you know you’ll be leaving that place in the next 1-2 years). We have tried various ways to make hobby friends (home brew clubs, book clubs, running groups, new gyms, meet up etc), but we’ve had a hard time finding a balance between spending the limited free time we have cultivating new friendships, and spending with each other. For us, I think we’ve defaulted into a bit of a rut of spending time doing things we both like (eating out, watching tv/seeing movies), and to some extent we’ve let our personal interests fall to the wayside a bit. I do see the importance of making time for our own hobbies, and every few months we decide we are really going to make a go of it, but it tends to fail for one reason or another.

    • AP

      I’m kind of going through this, as a lot of my friends have moved/are moving away. I’m finding that I don’t have a great outlet anymore for geeking out over books/fashion/movies/politics, and instead of turning to my husband for that, I’m just not pursuing my interests as much. I’m not really sure where to go from here, except one thing we’re trying to do is make new couple friends to fill in the gaps where our individual friends aren’t as available.

      • Greta

        I’m all about the couple friends – you’re still spending time with your partner but also get a lot of good time with others as well!

        • Scalliwag

          Any advice on making couple friends is really appreciated! My husband and I each have our own friends that we “brought to the marriage” and are only starting to make individual friends that only know us while we’ve been a couple. It has been hard enough to make those friends, are those just the ones to focus on transitioning to “couple friends”? We’ve definitely talked about wanting that, but haven’t pulled it off yet.

          • Greta

            Finding good couple friends is so hard! To find a couple that you both enjoy that also both enjoys you too. We have a mix of friends that one of us has made, that then brought their partner along. For instance, I met a girl at the gym, we really clicked, we all went out to dinner with our partners, and our partners really clicked too! Some people we’ve met at parties/weddings of mutual friends. But I think in most every circumstance it’s been one of us becoming friends with another person solo, and then bringing the partners into the mix later on in the friendship. We’ve also had some that have arisen out of groups – like my book club that is all ladies – now all of our partners have started getting together and going out for drinks/dinner on the nights when we have book club – they call it man club, which is totally ridiculous but also hilarious.

    • sofar

      Are you pursuing those hobbies together or separately? It can be hard for two people to overcome the inertia to get out of a rut.

      My fiance and I often joke we have a “long-distance relationship” while living in the same apartment. We decided early on to live completely separate social lives. I’m less friendly than he is, so I have to go it alone when pursuing hobbies/go to parties/hang with new friends, otherwise I just lean on him.

      What this means is that I make plans/friends without looping him in and he does the same. What has happened works for us — 1) Obviously, we love each other, so, when we find ourselves both with no plans, we spend that time together and enjoy all the more because we missed each other. 2) The friend groups we met separately kind of merged naturally. So now we have a lot of friends we can both hang out with.

    • Danielle

      I like Meetup groups for those sort of activities. The good thing with most of those groups is you can choose your level of engagement, and only go once a month or once a year if you want. So if it’s a month where you’re feeling like, “I really miss doing X,” you can just check out the website and see what’s going on.

      Also, it’s ok if it fails. (I mean, if failure means not finding a consistent group to do your activities with.) Especially if you’re planning to leave the place soon-ish, it’s not like it’s critical for you to develop a strong friend group. At least you’re trying! Maybe one of these groups will give you an idea or inspiration to bring to your next place.

    • Greta

      Ugh this is so hard. I was in your position a few years ago. It’s really really hard to make new friends in a new city, especially if you’ve got one foot our the door already. Though it was super cheesy I did enjoy reading the book MWF seeking BFF, all about a woman who goes on 52 friend dates in a year to try and find a local BFF – it was funny and interesting to see what happened/changed over the course of the year for both her friends and her marriage. My year with no friends sucked and was one of the worst of my life – when I moved I decided I would not let that happen again and put myself out there to no end – I said yes to everything. It’s taken some time but I’ve finally got a great friend group.

      • I’ve got to read this book now! Or do a similar experiment. Finding new friends is tricky. We moved to Paris 8 months ago with my husband so we’re navigating living together (and in the same city) for the first time along with making new friends that we can communicate with.

        • Will you all be there long term? Good luck in building friendships! It’s hard in a new place, especially if the culture and language are different from those of your place of origin…

  • This was a huge source of tension for us early on (and later on). Husband thought we should have everything in common so we could do everything together because he doesn’t have much time off work, so if he does things like mountain biking without me (I do not bike) then there goes the time he had to spend with me that week. Or he never gets to mountain bike again. Nearly seven years later, yeah, he bikes less than he used to. But he goes to Crossfit (Me: That sounds like everything I hated about gym class) and I go to book club (Him: You answer questions about the book? Like in English class?). We both love travel, the theater, cooking and eating out, and a limited number of shared TV shows. He’s learned to like yoga and I’ve learned to like primitive camping (though I completely refuse to go in the snow). We made a deal that I would watch all of Star Trek if he would watch all of Gilmore Girls, so we alternate episodes. All of that to say, yeah, it worked out but hoo boy was it a challenge in the beginning. Shared values, goals, and laid-back-ness got us through while we figured it out.

    • JenC

      I do not bike either. My husband isn’t so much into mountain biking, he’s more into dressing like a human condom and seeing how fast he can cycle. He likes to go out at weekends but it’s probably not as much as if he’d found a wife who likes biking. However, I like to bake so he does enjoy coming home to freshly baked brownies, he feels that’s a more than valid trade off. My husband feels a lot of guilt around going biking, not spending time with me and spending money on cycling (it’s a really expensive hobby that they trick you into thinking is free) but it makes him happy and I get a bit of time alone watching trashy tv.

      • Cellistec

        +1 for mental image of a human condom on a bike.

    • stephanie

      “He’s learned to like yoga and I’ve learned to like primitive camping (though I completely refuse to go in the snow).” this is us, also. <3

    • Greta

      Yes to this! I would be so sad if my husband never mountain biked again because I don’t mountain bike – I go out with him maybe once or twice a year, and that seems to make him happy, but most weeks he goes by himself. It’s hard when you don’t have a lot of free time, but as the saying goes, “everything in moderation”. You find the things you have in common and do those, and for the things you don’t have in common you do your own things. The part that gets really tricky is when your expectations don’t line up.

    • joanna b.n.

      Hear you. But I kind of like how you end up doing and seeing all these new things, and hopefully learning patience and bonding and other skills that can apply in the rest of your life, just through working on your marriage.

  • AH

    I think this goes back to the is your partner your best friend question. My partner and I have a lot of shared interests and were best friends before dating and after getting married. We have interests that don’t sync up but most of them do. For us it’s great!

  • Ashlah

    I am here for this conversation! I’m curious about how you all handle sharing your non-shared interests. That is, how much do you talk about or participate in something that interests your partner that doesn’t interest you? Or how much do you talk to your partner about your personal interests and what do you expect from them in terms of showing that they respect or care about your stuff?

    My husband is a talker. When he’s interested in something (e.g. a band he loves that I don’t), he will talk at length about it. I struggle sometimes with striking a balance between showing interest in the things my partner is passionate about (which is part of a happy, loving relationship! I like when he likes things!), and getting bored out of my mind when he doesn’t seem to notice or care when I have reached my limit of listening to something I don’t personally care about. It’s like he just can’t help himself!

    On the other hand, I can be a terrible under-sharer! I am all caps BAD at talking about myself and the things that interest me, unless I know full well the person I’m speaking with is also interested, and my husband would probably appreciate hearing more from me on some topics.

    • Cellistec

      I’m with you! I struggle to pay attention to my husband’s excited diatribes about bike camping and urban infrastructure. And I rarely talk to him about my love for classical music or animal rights, because I’m not a talker. Silly as it may sound, multitasking helps for me: if we can recap his camping trip while taking a walk, I’m less likely to zone out. Any tips for talking more about your interests? That’s where I’m stumped.

      • Violet

        That’s where I’m stumped, too. It’s not like I want him to stop talking about his topics so I can talk about mine. I don’t find it satisfying to talk at someone on my topic when they’re not interested. It mystifies me how he gets something out talking to me when I’m clearly not interested. I want us to talk about our shared stuff! But after listening to him go on and on, my brain becomes completely wiped about what I *do* want to discuss. It’s saturated with all his stuff. So then I basically end up saying something akin to “Stop talking about that. But I don’t know what to talk about, instead.” What a bummer!

        • Cellistec

          I don’t even have the guts to say “Stop talking about that.” I think once my eyes glaze over he gets the picture and cuts himself off. And then I feel bad. For us it’s really a verbal processor vs. nonverbal processor issue, beyond just not being engaged with each other’s hobbies.

          One thing I just realized is that while I don’t necessarily want to Talk About My Hobbies, I do enjoy telling stories. So maybe if I couch it as Tell A Story About My Hobbies instead, it’ll be more compelling for me. And ditto if I ask my husband to tell a story about his bike camping trip.

          • Violet

            See, I guess where I get stuck is that my partner can tell when I’m mentally tuning out anyway, but he doesn’t seem to care! He just genuinely is one of those people who loves to hear himself talk, so I’ve got to be assertive or otherwise it would just be a lifetime lecture series, basically.
            You’re thing about the stories really rings true for me, too! When I’m with friends, I’m way more of a story teller than Let Me Tell You Facts. But the stories evolve more organically. That’s why I keep getting stumped when he’s all, “Okay, what do you want to talk about?” Like, I dunno, dude! If this were a back and forth convo, you would have said something that I could relate to by sharing a story! But since it’s just a lecture, I got nothin. Sigh. This is probably our biggest issue, if you couldn’t tell. ; )

      • joanna b.n.

        I actually align with your description of yourself too, where I don’t automatically present my thoughts/stories without invitation. I sometimes just say to the hubs, “ask me a question of something you want to know about me/my day,” and that helps me get going. Also, there’s this beauty for those who reach advanced levels: http://momastery.com/blog/2014/01/16/save-relationships-ask-right-questions/

        • Cellistec

          That link is brilliant, for all kinds of conversations (not just the home-from-work recap with the hubs). Bookmarking for all the times I catch up with a friend I haven’t seen in ages and I don’t even know where to start.

      • Cathi

        As someone who is the overly-excitable talker who has finally figured out how to get her reticent husband to open up, I have to ask: Is your husband actually a good listener?

        I don’t even mean that in a bad way, honestly! Part of my husband’s problem with never wanting to share/never feeling like he needed to was that I was… not great at listening. He’d never really met anyone who was and never knew how great it can feel to really be “heard”. Because I’m such a “talker” I was very much in that bad habit of simply waiting for my turn to speak instead of truly listening. After I read a lot about “active listening” I started to practice that with him, and suddenly my quiet, “I just don’t know what to talk about I guess” husband started to babble like a brook.

        Having someone who is an engaged listener who is actively seeking your thoughts and asking for clarification and who is demonstrating joy at hearing what you think can be a game-changer. When you actually feel like your thoughts and experiences are interesting and valued it makes talking about them feel SO much better!

        So, my suggestion is to figure out if it’d be appropriate for you to ask your husband to be more engaged. Simply going “well, your turn!” and then staring at them isn’t a great way to get someone talking, even people like me who can have a great time talking to a tree.

        • Cellistec

          Good point! Last night after a long recap, my husband said he knows he’s not a good listener, which startled me…I think he IS a good listener, but the fact is that anyone can zone out to something they’re not interested in. I think one variable is that I’m A) more comfortable with silences than he is, and B) more introspective and prone to thinking before I speak, which can lead to said silences. So our dynamic isn’t so much good listener/bad listener as it is good listener/good talker. And when I practice active listening, a diatribe becomes a conversation (which is way more interesting).

    • sofar

      haha OMG, I have zoned out tons of times when my fiance wants to talk about Minecraft. I’m also guilty about talking about my hobby (dancing) with him while his eyes glaze over.

      I think the key is agreeing that each person will listen supportively for at most 15 minutes. And can then feel free to say, “So … ANYWAY” and change the subject. That’s what we do, and we laugh over it.

    • Amy March

      Tell him!!!! If he is droning on and on and on and you are bored out of your mind, say something! “Ok, I’m at my limit of listening to you talk about band xyz for the day! What do you fancy for dinner?” It’s great to listen sometimes but you aren’t obligated to be a captive audience for a lecture on his passions.

      • Violet

        Okay, so this is totally what I do. Sometimes now he’ll even say, “I’m going to give you a thirty-second preview, and you tell me if you want to renew at the end of the preview or if I should stop.” But when I cry uncle on a topic after he’s gone on and on, then we get stuck because he’ll say, “So what do you want to talk about?” If I don’t have a “topic” at the ready (usually I don’t, my brain has been listening to him on his topic), then I’m stumped. We both know we can get into a “lecture at each other instead of converse like normal people” pattern, but it’s hard to shake! FWIW, we both know how to hold conversations with other people; it seems to be a dynamic that’s built up over the years. Sometimes when we both get home from work he’ll say, “So, do you want to go first or should i?” and I just wonder why someone has to go first or second. Why not just talk?

        Part of it is just an intensity/energy level that he has that I’m almost never able to match (except under rare circumstances). So it becomes less about trying to limit him talking about his topic, and more about just my preference for a slower pace, not having to fill every pocket of silence with speech, etc.

        I don’t know what my question is, just rambling. If you can figure out anything helpful out of all that, let me know!

        • LucyPirates

          Some thoughts

          Listen whilst doing something else. I mean, sometimes I do want to listen about wireless communications but I don’t have 45 mins so I get him to follow me whilst I throw the laundry in or iron or wash up. Means I am listening but don’t have to have the facial expressions of ‘intense listening face’

          Background music – we take turns to pick old songs so it breaks up an evening and sparks topics about our teenage or college years.

          Encourage meeting up with people who share those interests

          By Blunt – say ok my brain is full of … for this evening, let me absorb and let’s move on to something else like …. what’s for dinner…

        • Amanda

          Ask for silence! That’s an okay thing! Silence is essential to mental health & physical health (think of the benefits of meditation & mindfulness). Just say, “hey, i’m so glad you’re into this topic, but I’d like to just Be Present in quiet for a few minutes. I’m feeling overloaded.”

    • Greta

      For our separate interests, I think one thing that has really helped both of us is having friends who are also interested in it that can get really excited about our separate interests. That way it’s not a complete information overload overshare situation for our uninterested partner. I don’t expect my partner to show that much interest in things I know don’t interest him. He’ll ask occasional clarifying questions, listen respectfully to short responses, and remember things, but it’s definitely not all we talk about. It’s the same thing for him too. I know more about mountain biking than most people who don’t ever mountain bike simply because my partner is so obsessed I’ve picked up a lot of knowledge over the years… But it’s really more fun to talk about your interest with someone who shares that interest. When I have something I want to talk about I might chat about it a small amount with my husband, but I get really excited to tell my friend/work colleague/online commenter about it!

      • Violet

        This is very true. I end up having enough friends who share my interests that I can do this. Unfortunately, my partner’s interests tend to be wide in variability but then very narrow in focus. It’s hard to explain. Previous colleagues have called him the Professor of Useless Knowledge, but it’s not like he knows tidbits here and there, like a Jeopardy player. He knows VERY concerted info about very narrow topics. So he doesn’t have enough friends who share those all those topics of interest.
        One thing I might suggest to him, though, goes along with your recommendation. He’s been learning a (obscure, of course) language via self-study and some tutors online. He told me his colleague who speaks the language mentioned a group getting together. I said, “Oh! Are you gonna go?” and he said, “Well, maybe once I can speak it better.” I let it go at the time, but I think I’m gonna bring it up again. This is a great opportunity, and why miss out!? Especially since who knows what he has in mind by “better”, anyway? Wait I know, he’ll want to sound indistinguishable from a native speaker, that’s what. Sigh.

    • tr

      I totally just smile and nod whenever mine drones on and on about stereo systems. That man is REALLY obsessed with stereos, and it hurts his feelings if I don’t at least smile and play along like I’m listening. I kind of feel dishonest doing that, but there’s really no other way. If I actually listened, I’d want to strangle him, and if I told him that I couldn’t care less, it would hurt him.

    • Danielle

      This is something I have struggled with with former partners and people in general. I just generally like to listen, and am good at it, and people around me (including partners) tend to open up and share. I usually like it… until I don’t.

      So I’ve done a little work on this recently, from perusing Captain Awkward archives to going to Non-Violent Communication meetups. In general, the advice I can offer is:

      – listen to the person to the level you’re comfortable with
      – whenever it’s enough, say something like, “I like hearing you talk about [whatever topic] and can tell you’re really passionate about it. I’d like to share something that happened with me today too.”

      YMMV. Some people are more emotionally intelligent/intuitive than others and will just keep going until you have to say, “I’ve heard enough for now.”

      Good luck and curious to hear how it works!

      • Violet

        “I usually like it… until I don’t.” Pretty much sums me up on this, too! I can be patient to an extent, and I do actually like that he shares with me. But then I feel like this quality of mine is getting taken advantage of, and I don’t like that. My partner is SO solicitous of my needs in SO many ways. This just seems like a disconnect we can’t crack in the long-term, no matter how many times in the short-term I’ve told him, “Errr, I’ve hit my limit with hearing about Eurozone monetary policies for one Friday night, thankyouverymuch.”

        • Danielle

          omg Eurozone monetary policies are the worrrrst.

    • A.

      I’m the over-talker! For instance, I’m super into politics, especially this cycle, and my husband is interested insofar as he doesn’t want to watch the destruction of the US via Trump, but he’s not interested in the ins and outs of, say, how the Democratic delegate process works or the play-by-play of different state conventions. It’s boring to about 99% of the people in my life and he knows that, so he’s happy to chat about it, as long as it’s high level, rather than in-depth analysis. However, if I get too geeked out, I can lose track of myself and his eyes will glaze over pretty rapidly.

      And generally, I always want him to tell me if I go down the too-many-details route! The only exception is if I have a built-up rant that I need to get out, but I make sure he knows that it’s more about me verbalizing my own thoughts rather than needing explicit and ongoing participation from him (and I cap the limit, both in length and how often I ask him to indulge me in that.)

      We also do try to find things to connect back to things he does care about. So while he may not care about the difference between Nate Silver’s polls-plus and polls-only models, he definitely cares if one of the candidates’ said something about Latin American/Hispanic issues. So I’ll try to focus on those topics when I can and he will even bring those up, since he knows I’m almost always wishing I could talk politics. In short, we try to Venn diagram it, so it can be an actual conversation rather than me lecturing or him trying to engage in something he truly isn’t interested in.

      • Greta

        This is great!

      • Eenie

        Venting. I’ve done way too much venting this political cycle. He finally told me that he agrees with my points, so why an I mad at him? I can’t vent without getting angry sounding lol.

    • La’Marisa-Andrea

      I guess I don’t feel a compulsion really to talk about my separate interests at all unless it’s an activity (as he wants to go with me usually). Neither of us are big talkers in general which for people who know me personally may be hard to believe!! I think I would find this challenging if we weren’t balanced this way but when we do get the talking bug, the other is always willing to entertain with interest, which is appreciated.

  • ruth

    My husband and I sometimes joke ‘how is it that we ended up together?’ because we have almost nothing in common….at least on the surface. But what we have in common is the other stuff Maddie mentioned: core values (and I think that’s all that matters.) For example, we’re both super passionate, enthusiastic people who get really excited about what we’re engaged in; we’re the opposite of apathetic, and that’s something we have profoundly in common. Now WHAT we’re engaged in is completely different – he loves math and technology … I love writing novels and the arts… which couldn’t be more different, but our excitement and sense of discovery is what’s shared. I appreciate his enthusiasm when he’s talking about the new facet of game theory he’s come up with and he appreciates my enthusiasm when I’m discussing my new idea for a story (It helps that one of our core values is we both love learning new things – thus I have learned much more about game theory, and he has learned much more about urban fantasy novels.) Sometimes I wistfully wish that we shared the same passions – and sometimes it hurts that we don’t. However, he’s always respectful of the time I need to pursue my art, and I do the same to honor his needs, and I appreciate that he’s always my biggest cheerleader (even if he hasn’t finished reading my book yet!) I think we can’t ask for a partner who shares all our interests, all we can ask for is a partner who respects them

    • sofar

      We also have almost NOTHING in common, but see eye-to-eye on the core values (religion, politics, values).

      My main passion is ballroom/latin dancing. Between classes, conventions, and going out dancing at night, it probably takes up 5-6 nights out of my week (and many weekends). Meanwhile, my fiance is DMing two D&D campaigns, is co-writing a fantasy novel with a friend, and spends his spare time doing more chill hang-outs with friends (which I hate, because I need to MOVE — see above). He also owns his own business, which makes his schedule crazy. I have friends who have never met him and vice-versa.

      My fiance never dances with me. I never game with him. So we have to make the most out of the very little time we have together. I know most people would NOT be cool with seeing their significant other just once or twice a week (and having to schedule that time in advance), but we are both the types to have jam-packed lives and understood that about each other going in.

    • Meredith

      This resonates with me when I look at my parents. When I was younger I’d think “how did these two end up together and how are they still together?” The answer, I believe, is core values. My dad is an engineer, loves bowling and weather and technology and fixing stuff. My mom is a trained teacher, loves cooking and sewing and reading and women’s rights. I can’t think of many hobbies that both of them enjoy. But! They are both open to new experiences and learning new skills (recently my dad, at 60, has started cooking), accepting of almost anyone, present themselves as a team, give back to their community, are frugal to a fault but generous to others, etc etc. When I think about it from a core values perspective, it’s rather obvious why they’ll be celebrating 40 years of marriage in January.

  • For us, that’s partly what friends are for and partly a window into a different world. I blog, write, read comics/geek out, and manage money, and chase a career for fun. He works out, volunteers with an organization, works with youth sometimes. We share a dog, a child, and travel interests in common. We may not have interest in the other person’s hobby but we love and respect each other and will spend time on the other person’s Thing for the sake of doing things together. We’re not so fussy about not being into the other person’s Thing we can’t just go with it for a day or half day because it’s reciprocal and we can find some way to amuse ourselves.

    It works because no matter how all consuming the other Thing is, we choose to participate and we choose our level of participation. The person who’s into said Thing doesn’t make that call so there’s no pressure, we’re willing to fly solo, and appreciate what’s given.

    We’ll gab on about our Things a lot too, but we don’t expect the other person to carry all the interest load, either. Enter, friends!

  • Colleen

    I believe one of the most important things my mother taught me was to “have spaces in your togetherness.” As a divorced woman and single mother, she knew the value of having her own “stuff,” whether it was literal – money, a car, a house for us to live – or figurative – hobbies, friends, creative outlets. Making sure I grew into a woman who also had her own “stuff” was incredibly important to her and, in turn, finding a life partner who would appreciate that I had my own “stuff” (and have his own, too) was incredibly important to me. The places where our interests don’t line up? Those are our spaces in our togetherness and those spaces are where our stuff lives. He plays Dungeons & Dragons; I embroider. He plays video games; I read Jane Austen novels. He goes to all you can eat steak places with his friends; I go to British tea rooms with mine. When we come back together, we do the things we both enjoy – camping, binge-watching TV and movies, eating ice cream, traveling – and we have fun stories to tell each other while we do them, simply because we HAVEN’T been doing everything together, all the time.

  • Ashleigh Davids

    Sigh! I needed to read this today. Yesterday, I practically fell apart because of how my fiance visualized placing our cake table in the ‘reception’ area of a potential venue. I wanted to be an interior decorator in a past life and he’s kinda just going with what he’s been exposed to when it comes to table setting at events – so needless to say, this mattered more to one of us or mattered to us differently. We grew up differently and this plays a big role in small and large differences we share. In so many way we are still becoming who we truly are and l find that this requires lots of patience from us both.

    • Jessica

      I’m so with you on placement function disagreements. I’m an avid reader of design websites and have Opinions on Interior Design. My husband thinks all the the walls should be off-white/beige, the furniture should be pushed up against the wall (including all beds and couches), and that having no coffee table makes the room looks bigger. Like, yes, it does, but it also makes it look empty and unpolished and sterile.

      • Lawyerette510

        And where do you put all the things that you use when on the couch/ chairs (drinks, remotes, snacks, a book…) if not on the coffee table??? Where does one gather for games? (Ok, probably the table you eat at..)

        • Amy March

          Oh, you don’t consider the floor an elegant solution?

          • Jessica

            My dog loves when things are put on the floor, especially if she can chew on, eat or drink them.

          • Lawyerette510

            Due to the inquisitive and hairy pets in our home, the floor doesn’t work for anything you plan on putting in your mouth. That said, our coffee table is actually a wooden bench from ikea, so definitely not elegant.

      • Lmba

        This made me laugh because my husband and I were searching high and low for a coffee table that fit our new living room, but we searched so long that we ended up preferring the room without one! I admit it is not elegant when hosting guests, but it is amaaaaaazing for reducing the inevitable coffee-table-clutter that would otherwise accumulate with 2 kids under 3. We’ve now settled on no coffee table, maybe forever! (That being said, we do not have a TV in our living room, nor do we eat in there except for occasional snacks in the evening, which we can totally manage on our laps. It is not always the most convenient, but I love not having to clean another surface of my house!)

  • I never went into marriage concerned or worried about having every single thing in common with my partner. Before I got married, I used to say that my optimal living situation was side-by-side townhomes, so that we could have our own space. I’ve let go of that requirement (cause sharing expenses is totally worth it) but I do enjoy that my husband and I don’t have everything in common. I like the space and time apart to pursue different interests, and then the coming together again. We do have things in common – core values, love of football, love of travel, we’re amateur foodies – and we’re both good with the amount of overlap that we have.

    I think the key is being supportive of the stuff that you don’t have in common. My husband is REALLY into golf and he’s currently trying to make the US Amateur Tour, so he spends almost every day doing something golf-related. My interest in golf doesn’t go beyond watching it on TV, and I suck at playing it, so he plays solo. Even though I’m not on the course or at the driving range with him, I check in on how it’s going and give him encouragement which he appreciates. In turn, he’s very supportive and encouraging with my writing and knitting, which are my passions. Having the other person support our outside interests and not resent the time we spend doing them, helps a ton.

    • Ebloom

      Yes this. My partner is a solid soccer player, and while I’m never ever going to play soccer with her, I go to her games and have even grown to enjoy watching women’s soccer. I enjoy supporting her in what makes her happy because her happiness makes me happy. In turn, she learned how to knit a little and takes part in the knitting club I started (though she almost never knits outside of that and has been working on the same thing for 6 months). It was never a requirement that she learned how to knit, or that I watch soccer, it’s more about being excited that the other person is passionate about something and wanting to support that passion.

    • AmandaBee

      I was about to leave both of these comments, so I’ll just second this instead. My partner and I have different hobbies/interests and it’s AWESOME. Often those different interests is what will lead us to develop or maintain friendships, or give us an outlet for alone time. We share the important values, but it doesn’t really matter if I like running and he likes building websites.

      That said, we try to appreciate each other’s interests. He came to see my half marathon and I…pretend to know what he’s talking about when he talks about building websites. Couples that share all their time together baffle me – that must work for them, but I really need some things that are just for me, or just me and a friend.

    • Lawyerette510

      Not really related, but I was reading quickly on my phone, and it first read I thought you wrote “my writing and kittens, which are my passions.” And I thought, wait on top of everything else awesome, Jubilance also fosters kittens?!?!? Not that knitting isn’t great (it’s very great) but I was going to loose it in my fandom if you were also super passionate about kittens.

  • Elizabeth

    And here I’m concerned that my husband and I are almost exactly alike. As with you and your husbands differences, most of the time, I like that we have our major hobby/passion/career in common. It’s convenient that we don’t have to explain our feelings about what we want and it’s awesome that doing what we want doesn’t mean time apart. I truly value our shared experiences. But, like you, I worry that couples who are “the other way” are doing it right and we are not. That we don’t have as much mystery in our relationship or that we will one day drive each other crazy.

    Ultimately, I love our partnership and it sounds like you do too. How a person finds fulfillment in their relationship is not as important as the fact that you are fulfilled.

  • MC

    Day-to-day I think Husband and I are both fine with the amount of things we do apart vs. together. I perhaps need a little more time to do by myself activities (read, watch my shows that he doesn’t like) than he would need, but that gives him time to do things I’m not interested in so I think it works. The issue we’re now struggling with is vacation time. We’re lucky to both have a lot of paid vacation with our jobs, but we do not have infinity money so we have to prioritize certain trips over others. This year it’s weddings & family vacations, but he is itching to go on a rock climbing road trip soon, and I’m planning a trip with some girlfriends for next year. It will be interesting to see how we balance out separate trips vs. trips together in the next few years when our travel schedule isn’t entirely dictated by weddings.

    One thing we have struggled with is what activities to do when we’re on vacations. He really likes to be doing activities all the time, and I like myself some relaxing and non-adrenalized activities. I like Cup of Jo’s suggestion to have at least half a day to spend apart in case each partner has different activities – any other tips?

    • Greta

      When planning a vacation maybe you each jot down 3-5 priority things you want to do/see on vacation. Yours might include relaxing on the beach while his might include rock climbing. But I imagine you’ll have some things you like to do together, and some things that you can do on your own. Sometimes vacation can be overwhelming because it feels like there is all this pressure to do everything together all the time – I think it’s important to have some alone time even on vacation! I really like the suggestion of doing a half-day or full-day apart – make plans to meet up at a set place for lunch or dinner and then recap the day!

  • Amanda

    My FH and I didn’t have a lot in common when we met and started dating 7 years ago, but over time we’ve found lots of new things that we love doing together. I think its the perfect balance, we can bond over our shared activities/interests and still have alone time .

  • JenC

    When I was applying to first jobs and university, we were given mentors at school who advised us ‘how to be more attractive to employers and universities’. This essentially boiled down to having a lot of extra curricular activities centred around team working and communication – basically any activity involving someone else. This was a real problem for me because I like to read, paint, walk, take pictures, go swimming, craft and generally research things I find interesting. Everything that I would count as a hobby I’m quite happy to do myself (walking with someone is nice but by no means necessary and sometimes a hindrance). Fortunately my husband enjoys many solitary activities too (video games, reading, cycling and researching very different things).

    So for us one of the most important things when we started to date was being comfortable to do our own solitary activities but share the same space, even if we aren’t talking. I love reading in bed, it’s the most comfortable place to read but while my husband is playing video games I’ll sit in the living room with him and when I get fed up he’ll follow me to bed to read once he’s finished that mission. We’re still able to be together and share little touches and kisses but don’t have to like the others activity. I know some couples can do this with TV but we actually have very little in common in what we watch on TV and films. We do share some activities together (board games, skyrim, eating out, going out) and I love the balance we have between the two.

    • EF

      ditto on the reading! my partner really enjoys reading too, but reads wicked fast (like a 500 page book in under 2 hours, it’s maddening, but really really helpful when i’m looking for a quote in a casefile) so he takes to computer games too. and we’ll just sit and read/computer and it can be lovely.

  • knolan12

    My boyfriend and I spend almost all our free time together, but I also belong to a dance company, go to the gym, etc. so we do have some alone time. A lot of the time, we’ll be doing something in the same room (I’ll be reading, he watching tv/playing video games), so I still feel like we’re hanging out even if we’re doing solo activities. I also was really mad when I realized how much he ended up playing his relatively new PS4, but then it turns out I bat way better than him so we play a lot of baseball video games together haha. It’s been interesting to watch how our free time has evolved since we’ve lived together.

  • Spheres of influence and freedom are super important to us and we see having different interests as a diplomatic way of making sure that each person maintains an outlet where we have complete independence. Marriage won’t always be perfect, so we encourage each other to have separate spaces in which to decompress. I used to worry about how different we are, but in the end, we’re stronger as a couple for having diverse interests and friendship circles that do not overlap. In the long run, our lives will be fraught with more uncertainty, and we’re better off knowing more people. The unfortunate truth for us is that in networking events, we band together instead of going out and meeting people together, so divide and conquer is a much better move and if we can have fun at the same time? WIN!

  • JC

    I always admired the fact that my parents had distinct interests and personalities, and so when I was younger, I went looking for men who were *totally* opposite from me. We shared nothing except maybe a love for the occasional beer on the weekends. I was miserable and always felt disrespected– maybe because my partners didn’t respect me. Then I met my now boyfriend, and I realized how lovely it is to have things in common. We certainly don’t share every interest ever, and I think we’re both enjoying watching each other grow new interests, together and apart. (We’re coming up on four years total and two years living together, so a good amount of time to establish firm habits and try something out of the box.) I sometimes do what you did, Maddie, and make a written or mental list of things we’re together for or apart for to see if they balance each other out, but I’m finding that they usually do. The things we do together really fill me up, and so do the things I do on my own.

  • Cellistec

    Even though my husband and I have only a minimum of overlap in our interests, when we do cross over and try something the other is passionate about, it improves our lives in visible ways. For example, I have no desire to go on the weeklong bike camping trips he loves, but I’m training for a 50-mile charity bike ride this year because I’m up for the challenge and it’s a good workout. And he used to eat nothing but grocery store Chinese food and deli meat, but after giving in to some of my healthy-eating prodding, he now eats a pound of fruits and veggies a day. So when I’m dreading the thought of stepping outside my comfort zone to try something he enjoys, I think, “maybe this is another chance to level up.”

  • emmers

    Our overlap comes in loving our cute dog, enjoying cooking, and some shared shows, and also gardening/yard work! There are plennnnty of interests & shows we don’t share, but we try to balance each having time to do our own thing with having together time.

    Sometimes it’s balanced better than others. We’re in a good balance moment right now, so I’ll enjoy that while it’s here!

  • the cupboard under the stairs

    My parents have been married for 30+ years and are complete opposites in so many ways, so I was never under the illusion that two people had to have lots in common to work well together. I think what’s most important is that you don’t totally hate your significant other’s hobbies and you’re not completely bored by the topics they like to discuss…otherwise you’ve got a loooong life ahead of you!

  • K

    This reminds me of a Rilke reading at our wedding: “Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue, a wonderful living side by side can grow, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole against the sky.”

    We have some common interests and many separate interests. I like high-brow music/theater, and he was in metal bands. Some of our best dates have been the pop shows at the symphony – we saw Chris Cornell and a Led Zeppelin cover band, sitting in comfy seats in the gorgeous symphony hall!

    • A.

      Just wanted to say, ahhhhh! My husband and I absolutely love those lines; we bonded over them specifically when we first started dating because we had never met another person who reacted positively to them in terms of a relationship (we were 19 at the time, so might have been part of it…). Love it.

  • Bsquillo

    OMG, I’m so glad I’m not the only one who finds board games dreadfully dull. My cap is definitely around 45 minutes, and then I turn into that person who says, “No, you go ahead. I’ll just watch you play!” and proceeds to get more booze….

    • toomanybooks

      Yeah, my fiancée and her friends from before we were dating are really into board games, and there were some times in the early days of dating when they got out some really convoluted ones that were difficult to learn (or at least learn what the real incentive to playing it was, lol) and during those I’d just be strategizing not how to win but what move I could make that would end the game because it was excruciating!

  • Katie

    Quote of the week: “So maybe the secret to long-term mutual interests is just… fake it until you make it? With the notable exception of spitting. That was probably just a bad idea.”

  • CP2011

    Anyone have any good suggestions for card or (short) board games for couples? We’ve found a new interest in Uno and Scrabble recently but I’m interested in expanding that.

    • Carolyn S

      Forbidden Desert and Forbidden Island are pretty quick, easy set up cooperative games!

      • Carolyn S

        Also you can play dutch blitz with 2 people but it can lead to occasional fights if one of your shared interests is winning…

      • “I Don’t Knowww, Margo!”

        Forbidden Island was a godsend to someone like me who loathes how competitive game nights can become! I love the idea of cooperative games; it lets me focus on the world of the game.

    • JC

      Ticket to Ride is our new favorite! It’s one of the few games we’ve found that are really comfortable to play with only two people.

      • Cdn icecube

        I love ticket to ride!

    • Ashlah

      Lately we’ve been enjoying Scattergories and the card game Golf.

      • Eenie

        My grandmother’s favorite card game was golf! It was all we would play when she came to visit.

    • C

      Depends on your definition of short, but Carcassonne and Splendor both work well with two people and don’t take too long. For regular card games, our favorite is cribbage (this is basically always what we play when it’s just the two of us). Also Set if you’re of similar skill levels (if one person is significantly better they basically end up playing solitaire while the other watches).

      • Scalliwag

        I adore cribbage, though haven’t really taught my husband, as I’m used to playing it with a certain friend and my mother. Good idea.

      • Eenie

        I love it when I find someone to play set with! This person is not my husband, or anyone in my nuclear family. I lost my shit when I moved into a new apartment and added my game to the game shelf and saw someone else had a copy of it. Instand best friends.

    • Carcassone is a simple, pretty short game. (And available on tablet/phones too so it travels well.) Pandemic is good too, but sometimes a bit longer. We also like playing Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, though we don’t use the scoring/gameplay rules, we just investigate the cases and see if we can solve them. Sherlock can take a *really* long time if you’re the type (hello, us) that just wants to investigate *everything*, but I think it’s playtime is supposed to be under and hour.

      • CP2011

        Thanks! We love the latest BBC Sherlock so we’ll have to check that game out.

      • Eenie

        There’s a ticket to ride app as well, I got it for free through Amazon’s play store on my Android phone. It’s awesome to play when we are bored and waiting somewhere together.

    • games

      Agree with Carcassonne, Ticket to Ride, and SET! A few of my favorites. We’ve lately been playing Monopoly Deal, Fluxx (lots of versions available, and always different since the rules are always changing), and Bohnanza. Been meaning to relearn San Juan, which to me is longish at 45-60 min.

    • Rowany

      Hanabi is a cooperative card game we like.I hate losing (just to him), so we have a lot of cooperative games.

    • Scalliwag

      Sushi Go! It’s very short (can be played in under 10 minutes) so a good time filer, but different take, since you both see all the cards in the hand. We alternate between that and Millbourne for 2 player games. With the many votes about Ticket to Ride, and people saying it’s good for 2 people, will have to give it another try – when we played I found it frustrating. Also thumbs up to Forbidden Desert and Forbidden Island.

    • Natasha

      All Creatures Big and Small is a fun one!

      Another good one which is our new favourite is Mr Jack.

    • Eenie

      There’s some cool dice rolling games like Yahtzee, zombie dice, or quarriors (we’ve played this for 10 hours straight some days – multiple games of course, it’s addicting). I really like sequence. Kings in the corner is an easy card game to learn. Seven wonders is really short but I’ve never played two person. It easily scales up to seven without taking more time, it is my family’s go to game. I will second ticket to ride, cribbage, splendor (the pieces in this game are super high quality), and the co-operative games others have mentioned.

      • Alexa

        Ooh, Blisters is another great dice game that can go basically as long or as short as you want and is really flexible on the number of players!

      • I love Sequence!

    • We were on golf for a long time, then Phase 10 and when we got burned out on that, I got him Cathedral, Campaign Manager 2008, and Set for Christmas. All go pretty quickly.

    • Kirstin K

      I’m late to the party but our go-to couple game has been backgammon. We have a running scoresheet to track our wins over the past several years and have found that its even a good way to meet people as someone always seems to approach us when we’re playing in public.

  • Mariejhess2

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  • Jessica

    This one is funny to me. We have a lot of the same interests / leanings / etc., and the same core values. But not exactly the same interests. For example: We both love working out in the mornings. Him? At the gym. Me? On a run outside (key word: outside). But he hates to run and he wants to work out with me. So it’s interests that are so close… but so far away. Basically one of us is always compromising.

    The other thing, and it’s a funny thing, is I drink coffee in the morning and he doesn’t. For the first 6 months of our marriage we got in a fight every weekend morning. Turns out 100% of those fights had to do with 2 facts: 1) I hadn’t finished my coffee yet. 2) He was convinced waiting for me to finish my coffee would make him miss his morning gym work out.

    Solution? We go to the same gym separately, so I can have my coffee in peace and he can set up for his gym class 30 minutes before it actually starts in peace.

  • Natalieavech

    A little bit off topic, but anyone else in a relationship with widely differing political leanings? We are both very politically engaged and politically interested (so can go on long discussions of delegate math, etc) but he’s very conservative while I’m conservative in the “for a Democrat” way.

    • Sarah

      Yes! Just last night we were at a campaign for Liberty event. The group is not quite my cup of tea as I’m socially liberal but economically more conservative. Having both sides be open is critical and my husband laughs when I make jokes about the social cons. He is very smart and generally well reasoned not a blowhard conservative though so that helps. Good discussion points. I actually think it will be good for our baby to see us differ respectfully and have intelligent discussions. We also have a significant age difference so I like to joke we would have never met online.

      • Natalieavech

        Yes! I grew up with parents with totally different politics as well and I think that helped me make my own decisions

  • Kara Davies

    My husband and I share some interests: music, movies, board games, food, travel, festivals, reading, etc. We also have separate interests that we do not share. Me scrapbooking, him lego. It’s healthy to have separate interests! It’s also healthy to try and participate in the other’s interests. Case in point: this weekend my husband is exhibiting at a local Lego show here in Brisbane (at RICC if you’re interested!). I’m assisting. I’ve no interest in interlocking multiple colors of ABS plastic whatsoever. However, it makes my husband happy and at these shows, there’s no one to cover his table when he needs to pee, eat, or caffeine up. So, I’m the table watching coffee fetching wife of an AFOL this weekend. In return he owes me several scrapbooking workshops worth of catering!

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  • Ema

    I think the question you both need to ask yourselves is: how do I best love the person I am married to? Mutual satisfaction can be a tangled goal, particularly since love is a one way street.

  • Yeah, my husband likes sports. So much. All the sports in so much depth it could cover 10 or more hobbies. And reading books about presidents, politics and history. And I like reading but more fantasy/fiction, and netflix and baking and various crafty stuff. But I forget a lot that we do have things in common we like to do: hiking (although we live in a city so it doesn’t happen as much), the dog, musical theater (I always forget he likes this one because of the overwhelming SPORTS but he was so excited to go see Wicked with me and is very into Hamilton right now), the Simpsons and the West Wing.

    And he has very strong opinions on politics that he is very good at debating (because that is a skill he has) but also differ from mine sometimes significantly. The politics was a tough one to get over, because he can always “win” a discussion because he is (1) more interested in politics so he has a greater breadth of knowledge and (2) he is just really good at debating and crafting arguments in a way I am not. So I solve that one by every so often having him and my other friend who also understands the economic arguments but is closer to my views debate in front of me for their enjoyment and my education. But also I deal with it by reminding myself that his views are also biased and he just isn’t presenting them that way and that we do ultimately agree on the same underlying goals for the most part, we just have different ideas on the best way to acheive them.

  • La’Marisa-Andrea

    We do not have shared interests but we are willing to share each other’s interests quite easily. My husband is not into theater or ballet and would never go on his own but if I were getting tickets, he wants to go. I’m not into sports at all but if he gets tickets to a game I’m the person he wants to take and I happily go. That has worked for us for the last decade plus.

    • Rachel P

      Yeah, we’re the same way. I’m not hugely into sports but I LOVE going to baseball games with my boyfriend because he actually explains what’s going on in a way that’s super interesting and fun. He’s not that into live music and would probably never go to a concert on my own, but he’s bought me tickets to shows for several birthday presents and we always have fun (we’re both pretty extroverted and he’s always down for something that involves going out/socializing/drinking beer, so it doesn’t really matter to him if it’s a concert). He’s even gotten really into my favorite bluegrass band over the years. I kinda like the combo of “we don’t have 100% identical interests, but the ones that are different we can at least share with each other” :)

      • Rachel P

        *would never go to a concert on HIS own. whoops!

  • Gail

    My husband and I have basically no shared interests. We are currently getting divorced. It’s obviously much more nuanced than that and we are fundamentally very different people in a way that just didn’t work for us. I’m still quite close to the detail but as I try to step back and see the bigger picture, what feels key to me is not the lack of shared interests but his lack of interest in my interests and a huge gulf in what Maddie describes as “core values”. We used to have one shared interest – our dog. When the dog died, we had none. I share this story not to say I think you must have some shared interests but because I think in future I will look for someone who likes at least some of what I like and as a bare minimum doesn’t think my pastimes are stupid. And more fundamentally, someone who shares some core values because I think those were our biggest problem. So, from someone (just) on the other side, I don’t think you need the same interests… but you need *something* in common.

    • I think you bring up a good point: respect for the spouse’s interests/hobbies. I think I would want my spouse to at least respect my interests/beliefs/etc., even if they did not practice the hobbies or believe exactly the same things (like faith or politics, for example). My ex-husband did not agree with some of my beliefs and ridiculed them sometimes. Now, years later, I am dating someone who also does not agree with everything I believe, but it feels different because of his level of respect. He doesn’t think it’s stupid to want to do xyz or believe xyz. Divorce is hard; I wish you the best as you navigate this.

  • Amanda

    J did not like (well, “get”) our Queen Bey until Lemonade. I made him watch it & he subsequently bowed down. There’s still hope.

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    Cowee Chrystal

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