I was just thinking about this concept while sitting on public transport a few hours ago, and these are the thoughts that occurred to me:
The idea of having things in common with your spouse is or seems to be extremely important to other people. When I first started being confronted with relationship issues in wider society, largely through reading relevant newspaper articles and agony aunt columns, and long before I had started thinking ahead to my own relationship and eventual marriage, people always seemed to be “going on” about “having things in common” with their significant others. Where relationships broke apart it seemed it could often be blamed on “no longer having things in common”. As I was reflecting on this, I was thinking: I as a person almost never think about the question of “having things in common” with whoever my future husband will be. But perhaps any future husband thinks about this endlessly! Perhaps someone is thinking: “Yeah, Tosin is…and she is definitely so…and in response to that I am….but I’m not sure that she and I have anything in common…
You know what, actually I do think about this, I just don’t phrase it in that way. The reason I don’t think about this specific phrase or ever talk about it is this: when people seem to talk about “having things in common”, they seem to talk about things such as enjoying the same hobbies or liking the same kind of music. These things seem to me to be small things to define my life by. Rather, these are the things I need to have in common with my husband: having the same values, having the same life goals. What I mean is that things like hobbies are almost irrelevant in my life to have in common with my husband, because I am defined by so many bigger things. But perhaps in someone else’s life a particular hobby might be huge. Like for instance some people outside the faith, even some people inside it, might class my faith as a “hobby”. However for me, my relationship with Christ is more than a big hobby. Rather, it is life itself. Then I thought that perhaps what each person needs to do is identify the biggest things in their life and then acknowledge that these are the things that their partner needs to share with them in common; for some people a hobby might be the biggest thing, for me it is values, and specifically values that derive from faith in Christ.
Actually I was thinking about this specifically in relation to ethnicity. I love my own ethnicity, in that I am a Nigerian, of the Yoruba tribe. I love my culture so much: the music, the food, the clothes, the parties, the community orientation. And yet, this is not something that I have to share with my husband. In fact, I am quite excited by the possibility of marrying into another culture and finding out about it. Although that said, I guess you could say that I do still need to share a big culture in common with my husband, in that I am hoping that he will come from a culture that is as exciting, colourful, exuberant and community-oriented as my own, just expressed in a different way…
I guess this is the point of having things in common: when feelings eventually fade – as everyone says they will, then you no longer have the force of passion empowering you to make an effort towards your spouse, or towards your marriage. Spending time together will help you remain close to one another, rather than “drifting apart”. If you are able to spend time together doing something that you both love, that comes naturally and effortlessly to both of you, then that requires less effort to maintain the marriage. And that mutual pleasure that you derive from that shared activity will spill over into positive feelings about your marriage. However, if a shared pastime requires one of you to push – herself (let’s just say for argument’s sake!) – in something that she hates then that will require a ton of effort on her side, and almost invariably she will give up that activity somewhat quickly, while the husband will of course remain passionately devoted. So the time they could spend together doing that activity would then be lost, and with it the positivity of being able to have fun in each other’s presence in that time, doing something that they both love. This is all the more true in our times when people are so busy that time for hobbies and everything else is super-squeezed anyway, so perhaps the thinking is if we can’t share time doing this, in something that is so important to one of us,to which he or she dedicates so much time to, then what time will we ever find to actually share?!
If you are a certain Mister, and this is what you have been thinking, and you are shouting at the screen just now “Yes Tosin, don’t you get it?!” I think I know what your one big hobby might be (other than reading this blog, I mean! Please don’t stop now!) To be fair, I think that I could reasonably have guessed it even before my furtive googling, but yes, Google told me all I could possibly have wanted to know! Is it presumptuous of me to suggest that this might be your one big hobby? Sorry, I mean your 20 big hobbies?! Without actually going into details of what that hobby/those hobbies might be, let me admit that there are some aspects of those hobbies which make me gulp, hard, simply to think of them! However, I think that you would be surprised at my adaptability regarding those particular things, considering that I have never really demonstrated an overt interest in those things, and considering too what I wrote to you in that letter. You might just need to be patient with me for a little bit….Also, I am exceedingly competitive, so I’m hoping that you won’t have to be patient with me for too long…before I start competing even with you. You think I’m joking, don’t you?! And I am not talking about “letting me win”. I hope that you are not the kind of man that minds being defeated by a woman! In short it will take effort, but I definitely have a natural aptitude for it all…and I always have done.
I wish I could spell it out for you here. Please believe me and take my word for it. Regarding those specific hobbies of yours, and the thought of sharing them in common with me, I hope it is not too presumptuous of me to promise you that you will not be disappointed.
(Reflecting on this passage a little earlier today, after I wrote this post yesterday, I realised that I might have made this big hobby sound a little…adult! I’d just like to make it clear that the “big hobby” in question is completely innocent and very family-friendly! The only reason I can’t spell it out is because it would very likely instantly idenfity a certain Mister to anyone who knows him! Also my thoughts were completely innocent as I was writing it…)
You know, it was not the actual hobby itself, but a character trait that is closely linked to it, that made me realise that you are more than just a handsome face, but there is some serious substance there. Perhaps, if I had been less scared, I might have realised all along that such consistent, compelling attraction could only be maintained by some invisible but serious substance on your side! It is thinking of that single character trait that has helped me to persevere in my hopes towards you, knowing that ultimately all of this will be worth if it does eventually happen between you and me. Even if it does not, it will still have been worth it, and I will never have any regrets about chasing my hopes regarding you.
Furthermore in addition to that desperately attractive character trait which I was already aware of, it was something revealed by Google that gave that exciting scent of shared values – and I’m not talking even remotely about that Google revelation that might seem to you most relevant.
Going further, you know I realised that I have been guilty regarding you of something I am often accusing other people of; trying to convince you to do something based on how much I need it! It sounds something like this: “Please do X,y,z – because I need it! I would love it so much! You look as if you hug good!” etc. Whenever people do it to me, I always think “Well why would I be convinced by what you need? Why don’t you make this compelling to me by appealing to my needs?!” Or in other words, well what’s in it for me?! I have certainly tried to think how this possible relationship could be mutually beneficial to you and me. However, it honestly did not even occur to me to think in terms of “having things in common”, or how that might be top of your own criteria. Sorry about that! Moving forward, does this sound like a good topic for me to explore, perhaps in a series of blog posts: imagining what Mr TDA’s chief criteria might be, and evaluating how I might measure up regarding each one, and describing how I plan to improve in the areas in which I am weak?!