Written by Tawny May
I’m going to tell you a story that involves two humans, 60-plus snakes, love, and a really great life lesson.
My good husband has always had an affinity for reptiles--particularly snakes. And we’re not only talking about little garden snakes, we’re talking full-on, sometimes massive, often venomous, dangerous snakes. As a little boy he grew skilled at locating and capturing them in their natural habitat, and would often impress his friends and family with his snake wisdom (they still joke that he’s the next Steve Irwin). He’s always been fascinated by these creatures so he learned all he could about them. To this day he’s like a friggin’ walking encyclopedia of all things snake you never knew (or cared to know).
Then there’s me: probably legitimately arachnophobic and an avoider of all things creepy-crawler. I gravitate towards dancing, cooking, writing, running, biking, swimming, and traveling. When I’m in a warm, tropical, beautiful swim-able place, I head straight for the fruit stands and beaches. My husband, on the hand, is the guy that instead heads straight for the foliage and begins overturning fallen trees and large rocks and other debris in search of any sign of serpentes (scientific name for snake).
When we were falling in love, I didn’t think much of it. We were in Costa Rica before we started dating, and I sat on the beach or swam while he disappeared into the forest and all was well with the world. But then we got married and it wasn’t okay to a) go our separate ways like that or b) not support him in something he cared about. So I started following along in the snake-scapades.
I was begrudging at first, and I resented that we couldn’t just sit around and enjoy the beach (which he does enjoy, too). But then, I had one of those really good-wife/okay-fine-I’ll-try-to-be-humble-and-see-your-point-of-view-moments, and I realized that my interest of beaching and sun-soaking was absolutely no better or worse than his interest of finding snakes. We’d made the journey to Costa Rica or wherever beautiful, to enjoy the scenery - and the accompanying wildlife was just as important as the sand, sun, and waves.
A few months ago we flew across the world to go to Bali. Most people would go for the beaches, the culture, the scenery...and we did, too! Sorta. One of the primary reasons we went was to fulfill my husband’s lifelong dream of finding a rare species: trimeresurus albolabris insularis--the blue viper--along with at least 15 other “target species,” common to that corner of the world. So pretty much every night of our trip, we’d dress like ninjas and shine flashlights in trees looking for nocturnal, slithering friends. At first I was TICKED that our trip revolved around freaking snakes, but then...I saw how happy it made my man, and my heart compleeeeetely changed. Suddenly I found myself more involved and invested in the nightly “hunt." Without warning I had tons of questions, and, believe it or not, I wanted to kiss the King Cobra when it came down to it. In the end, we found over 60 snakes in total--including, and especially, the infamous insularis. Mission accomplished!
You’re probably wondering what the heck the point of that story is. Haha. Let me tell you. The point is, that we are all weirdos in our own individual way. We all love different things, and there’s a reason for that. What interests you may not interest your spouse. This difference of opinion can cause a rift, contention, and frustration in your marriage; or, you can support and involve each other in new hobbies, and grow together as individuals and as a couple. I know that as I’ve supported and participated with my husband is his snakescapades, I’ve actually come to enjoy it myself. (I’m not saying I’m perfect or that I love snakes now; I’m simply saying that my husband has a hobby I participated in (and enjoyed), and I now support him more in said hobby, which has brought us together and nurtured our marriage.)
Having shared hobbies and interests can be extremely fun and enlightening; not only do you learn more about a new realm of the world you may not have delved into before, but you learn more about your spouse! You get a new insight into their soul, understand better what interests, bothers, drives, motivates, and excites him/her. It’s a great way to reinvigorate your love life and get to know each other on a new, refreshing level.
So pick up a new hobby as a couple. It doesn’t have to be something only one of you is familiar with; you can do something neither of you are familiar with, and how fun would that be?! Try rock climbing or snowshoeing; pick up a new instrument; try cooking or baking a new dish; study a place of the world you want to travel to; build something together (a chicken coop, a garage shelf, a dog house, garden dividers, etc); get into art (there are even affordable classes for that sort of thing!); volunteer at a shelter or organization in your community; take a stab at photography or editing pictures or music, or making movies using free online tools; read poetry to each other; watch a TV series….the ideas are endless!
One thing that needs to be clear is that participating in hobbies should always be mutually beneficial. If a hobby benefits one spouse more than another, be sure to swing the pendulum the other way so everyone can end up happy. :)
When we walked out of a bat-infested cave (no joke, thousands of bats flying at us while we looked for reticulated pythons in the dark), my husband said, “Dinner ANYWHERE you want.” (He knew he owed me.) You bet I’m not going to hold back in involving him in my hobbies now! So I’m going to get him hooked on Latin dancing, the act of pinning and cooking delicious recipes, yoga, stretching, crafting, thrifting, and making homemade ice cream. Oh, and we’ll for sure top that off by watching “A Fault in Our Stars,” in our sweats.
Go find or make your shared hobbies today and watch how it’ll benefit your marriage!
Photo Credit: Caitlinn Mahar-Daniels & @patmay22 for snake image
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