But what do we have in common?!

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?!

 

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