In this chapter I found myself disagreeing with Harley much more than I expected. Once again I found myself not relating to what he considers to be a common need for men, shared recreation. But this time it was because of personality, not maleness vs. femaleness. Namely, I’m an introvert. And he doesn’t seem to acknowledge 50% of the population at all. I found that quite surprising.
See, he’s all about husbands and wives sharing their recreational time with each other – to the point where they should only spend time doing recreational activities that the both people enjoy. I have a big problem with that: introverts generally don’t have recreation that they share with others. (It’s kind of the point, you know?) I need time by myself to “recharge my batteries.” Activities like reading, single-player video games, computer programming, writing, various art like drawing and painting … the list goes on… these are, for the most part, solo activities. I can certainly involve Bethany in some way, but, as hard as it is to admit, I get the most enjoyment from them by myself.
Now of course I have things I like that the two of us can do together. I’ve recently gotten into board games again – those should be played with others, naturally, and I’ve found some we both like. And we have a lot of overlap in TV shows and movies we find interesting, so we can share that as well. There are other things, but it probably behooves us to take the interest inventory just to find out if there are some things out there we both like that we haven’t thought of before. (I miss going to plays, Bethany! When are we going to see another play?!)
Yes, I get his point: “Since everyone has an account in your Love Bank, it stands to reason that the person with whom you share your most enjoyable moments will build the largest account. If you want a fulfilling marriage, that person must be your spouse.” I completely agree. It’s why I don’t have other female friends with shared interests; this is deliberate, to avoid the potential of affairs as he describes in the chapter. But spend all my free recreational time with Bethany? I mean this in all honesty: that would be a disservice to her, if I wasn’t fully recharged and ready to give her the attention she deserves. To recharge, I need me-time.
Why oh why Harley did you not address introverts?
I think for the most part this chapter focuses on a great premise. As husband and wife you must have some things in common or you probably wouldn’t have gotten married. Of all of the recreational activities in the world, there must be some that you would both enjoy. Make sure that you prioritize those activities.
“Engage in only those recreational activities that both you and your spouse can enjoy together.”
However, I have a slight bone to pick with this theory. What if you are introverts? My husband and I are both introverts, he even more so than I. I spend all day dealing with small children and their constant needs and chatter. He works in an office where at least a portion of his job requires him to interact with others. We each need time alone to recharge and this often takes the form of recreational activities.
Yes, we do things that we enjoy together. We play complicated board games. (We’re not talking about Clue and Scrabble here. My husband’s recent additions to the docket include Puerto Rico and Settler’s of Catan). Since we are both writers we belong to and host a writing small group in our home. This has been a wonderful addition to our recreational life in the past three years. While it isn’t time just the two of us, it does give us the opportunity to share our creativity and support each other.
But we definitely require time alone. My husband enjoys video and computer games; most of which are quite complicated (are you sensing a theme here?) and solitary. Sometimes he has introduced me to his games, and occasionally we will play cooperatively; but usually it’s just his time to be alone an recharge. I feel that these kind of activities are exceptions and here is why.
“The couple with separate recreational interests misses a golden opportunity. They often spend some of their most enjoyable moments in the company of someone else.”
Because these activities are solitary, no one else is taking the place of the spouse in meeting this recreational need. This is simply time that each of us require alone to keep us functioning and allow us to be better husband and wife, father and mother.
I also think that there will always be some things that we do that the other person doesn’t. Harley admitted in the last chapter that he and his wife have made an effort to support each other’s interests; his practice of counseling and his wife’s singing and speaking career. I lead the dance ministry at my church. My husband supports me in this by providing care for the children so that I can attend meetings and rehearsals. But in the past he has also helped edit music, and video tape performances. During a period of two years when I was teaching and taking classes at a local dance studio, he even participated in our yearly production of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by serving as narrator.
He participates when appropriate; but he would never suggest that I give up dancing because he isn’t interested in participating. But to his credit; as my Christmas gift this year he is taking six week of English Country Dance lessons with me at the local community college. So I guess he figured out a way to make my interest in dance a mutual activity after all.
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