How to Learn What Your Spouse Loves and What God Loves

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How do you determine what’s important in your marriage? How do you navigate marriage when you have different interests and hobbies than your spouse? 

In today’s episode, we explore the art of learning alongside each other to grow in the things we love, sharing in the experience together, and nurturing our marriage relationship by choosing to like what the other loves.

We were recently asked: “What is important to your spouse and not to you – how do you navigate that?” 

We as individuals were created uniquely and have different backgrounds, so it makes total sense that we would like different things and have different interests…some of which may overlap! Some of these things even become the connection and easy bond that helps couples to feel close. Then there are other instances where these interests may feel more one-sided; something that the other person does not enjoy so much. What do we do then?

Our friends Jeremy and Audrey Roloff wrote in their book A Love Letter Life, that they try to find something to like about what the other likes, out of love. In other words, trying to find what it is they love about it. Additionally, in A Severe Mercy, by Sheldon Vanauken, on the principle of sharing in marriage: “If one of us likes anything, there must be something to like in it, and the other one must find it.” This beautiful sentiment reminds us as married couples that we are one, and that these common interests only bring us closer together. 

Trying things is a good way to sift through and see if it’s something that can be done together. Not everything will be a match, but we can surprise ourselves when we find stuff we enjoy doing with our spouse. Even if we don’t value something in the same way, we can find value in it, simply because it brings our spouse joy.

Here are some practical ways husbands and wives can seek to learn how to love what their spouses love:

  • Invite yourself into it. Don’t be afraid to ask to tag along. 

  • Ask your spouse questions about the interest that will help you learn about it. Simply asking them about it and truly wanting to hear about it allows you to have a good conversation with them and quality time.

  • Give time for it for your spouse to do it and for you to do it together.

  • Invest in it financially to support an interest.

  • Encourage them to keep going.

 

Being intentional to do these things will kill some of those negative feelings you may have surrounding your spouse’s hobby such as resentment, jealousy, or frustration. Of course, it is always important to have healthy boundaries with our individual interests, and to make sure these hobbies or interests don’t get in the way of our priorities: our families, our church, and our God.

Philippians 2:3-4 “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

When we talk about this topic spiritually: How do we enjoy or learn to love what God loves? Why would we care to explore and know what God loves? Because we love Him. And when we participate in what he loves it helps us know Him better. But how do we learn what He loves? His word tells us what he loves:

2 Corinthians 9:7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Psalm 37:28 For the LORD loves justice; he will not forsake his saints. They are preserved forever, but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

1 John 4:20-21 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

We need to learn to love giving cheerfully, and to treat everyone as if they are made in the image of their Creator. God loves justice; he loves it when people are treated rightly, with fairness and equality, and we must learn to love to treat others in this way. We cannot love God and not love the bride of Christ. 

There are many things God loves and many things that He hates. Just as we desire to grow in our relationship with our spouse, let us grow in love with God by seeking out those things and asking God to help us grow to love that which He loves.

READ TRANSCRIPT

Aaron:

Hey, we’re Aaron and Jennifer Smith, your host of Marriage After God podcast. How do you determine what’s important in your marriage? How do you navigate marriage when you and your spouse have different interests and hobbies? Today, we’re going to explore the art of learning alongside each other to grow in things we love, sharing in the experience together, and nurturing our marriage relationship by choosing to like what each other loves.

Jennifer:

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Hey.

Aaron:

Welcome back everyone to another episode of the Marriage After God podcast. We’re here to chat about things.

Jennifer:

Important things.

Aaron:

Important things, but you have something to share first before we get into that topic.

Jennifer:

Well, last week, if you guys tuned in, I briefly shared, I think it was just a sentence actually, about my weight loss journey. I wasn’t really prepared to share it, but it came up, and then I was thinking about it after we had already launched the episode. Maybe they’d be interested in hearing a little bit more.

Aaron:

I bet you they would.

Jennifer:

I mean, I would be encouraged to hear someone else’s story, so I thought if anyone out there is struggling in their health or their weight or their image or anything, I thought I would share a little bit about what I’ve been going through the last couple of months and actually a couple of years, and hopefully it will encourage you guys to, I don’t know, maybe… Sometimes when we hear people’s stories, something clicks, and we’re like, “Oh, I should-

Aaron:

I could do that.

Jennifer:

I could do that, or I should try that, or I’ve been doing it. Maybe it’ll be just as accessible. But anyways, I wanted to go into it just a little bit briefly before we jumped into today’s actual topic. What do you think?

Aaron:

Yeah, because, well, I mean, this goes with what we’re talking about anyway, because this is something that you’ve been interested in getting healthy.

Jennifer:

True. [inaudible 00:02:21].

Aaron:

I think it fits.

Jennifer:

Cool. Well, my journey starts about three years ago. It was right after I had Edith, who’s our baby. I haven’t had a baby since Edith, and I started… I know I started having symptoms of my thyroid having issues, and I had already been previously diagnosed with Hashimotos. It started flaring up after I had Edith, and I started… Within four or five months, I gained a lot of weight like crazy, more than I had ever experienced before, and so I was at my heaviest without being pregnant or anything. I gained about 35 to 40 pounds of weight in a short period of time, and I was very irritable. I was frustrated. I was even confused like, “Why is this happening?”

I don’t feel like my eating habits had really changed. Nothing in my life had really changed that drastically to be a cause other than my thyroid, which was that was hard. I saw a natural path for that, but I remember just feeling really eager to start chipping away at it, and help my body be healthy, especially having five kids. I knew that was important to me, that I was active and just felt really great. So, that next summer, Edith would’ve been one by this point, I was able to… I started working out, and I was able to lose the first 10 pounds, but then it was stall mode.

I remember being so frustrated, because it didn’t matter how much I worked out or the intensity. It was like I couldn’t break my next goal. I remember you had encouraged me to just keep going, and keep being diligent that it was a long game and-

Aaron:

Just reminding you that the things you were doing were good for you.

Jennifer:

Yeah, they were so good, even if they weren’t working as fast as I wanted them to or anything like that. Then there was about a year of our transition from selling the house to building this new one, and being in transition between other homes before we actually moved in.

Aaron:

Which made working out impossible.

Jennifer:

It’s just everything was a little bit harder, because everything seemed up in the air, and our schedules changed a lot and stuff. I actually… I got a really bad calf injury on both my calves. I pulled them.

Aaron:

At the gym.

Jennifer:

They were bruised, and they took weeks and weeks to heal. That really hindered my progress. But then we moved into the house last fall, and I remember having a conversation with you, Aaron, about how I just was really eager to continue pressing on and hitting my next goal. I remember you, again, encouraged me, but also said, “Well, what else could you do? Have you thought about how you’re eating?” I was convinced that I was eating pretty healthy and not very much.

Aaron:

Well, we do eat healthy. That’s something that we have worked on over the last several years, especially after having kids of having just a more consistently healthy diet, more whole foods and less processed stuff, eating out less so that we are. We do eat… The types of food we eat are really good, I think.

Jennifer:

I don’t think that I wasn’t paying close attention to how much I was eating, especially because I thought, “Well, if I’m working out this much, it probably doesn’t matter, right?” I just had the balance-

Aaron:

Which I’m sure for some body types and some metabolisms is true.

Jennifer:

Yup. Well, for me, it wasn’t working, and so you reminded me about my fitness pill. It’s an app where you can go on there-

Aaron:

Track your calories.

Jennifer:

… track your calories, and you basically load height, weight, age, what your goals are, and then it will tell you like, “You should be having this many calories every day,” and then you can go in and log in. Every time you eat something, it’ll tell you how many calories it is, and it tracks for you. I’ve been utilizing that, and I was really hesitant at first because it felt like an inconvenience to me.

Aaron:

Well, it’s very tedious.

Jennifer:

It’s tedious, and it takes time, but the first thing I noticed right away is that I was eating a lot more than I thought I had been. So, that was a wakeup just to keep paying attention. Then I started using the app to just help me stay within my range of what I was hoping to get-

Aaron:

Your calorie range.

Jennifer:

… my calorie range each day. I started losing weight. I was still working out and everything, and it just felt really good to be able to reach my next goal. I was so excited I could cry. Then I kept hitting goals, and it was like, “Oh, my goodness, this is working.” I’ve just kept with it. I just told you the other day, I feel like I’m beating something like I’m winning something, like I’m in some competition with myself. I don’t know, but it feels really good. It feels like I have control over an area of my life that I’ve struggled with my whole life.

Aaron:

Well, that’s what I was going to say is you keeping track of your calories. The reason I brought up the calorie tracking to you a while ago is because I tried it, and when I did it pretty consistently for several months, a handful of years ago, I got down to my lowest weight I ever was. I got down to 185. I’m six foot tall. Right now, I have around 213. So, when you do it, you realize… You were telling me that you noticed all the little times that you would just pick at the kids’ plates, or get their little snack, and you just stopped doing it.

Jennifer:

I don’t want to waste, so I just eat it.

Aaron:

Mainly because you didn’t want to have to input it. Not necessarily because you’re avoiding the calories. You’re like, “I just don’t want to get my phone out, and do this. I’m not going to eat that thing right now, whatever that is on the plate.” How many pounds have you lost since you’ve started this?

Jennifer:

I’ve lost 20 pounds just since the fall, 30 altogether, 35 altogether. I feel really great.

Aaron:

Which is amazing, and you look amazing.

Jennifer:

Thank you. I feel really strong. I feel really healthy. I feel more confident, and I’m doing things that I normally wouldn’t.

Aaron:

Jujitsu’s helping out.

Jennifer:

That’s what I mean. Normally, I wouldn’t have done something like that, but I just feel like I can, which is really cool.

Aaron:

By the way, this is not an endorsement for my fitness belt necessarily. It’s an awesome tool to use, but we just use it ourselves, so no one asked us to talk about that.

Jennifer:

Then there was two more things that I really feel like helped specifically my body and my body type and my struggles with Hashimotos and everything, and that’s I finally quit gluten, which before, I was convinced that I could mostly quit eating gluten, and then every once in a while, have-

Aaron:

Do you mostly gluten-free stuff and then-

Jennifer:

Then every once in a while, I would have a bite of toast or… Well, I’m not doing that anymore, and the inflammation in my body is gone. I felt really good in that respect. Then the other one is limiting my caffeine, my coffee.

Aaron:

Which has been huge, which is something I’ve been trying to do for the last couple days. I’m trying to limit my caffeine intake as well, but not because I have a thyroid issue but-

Jennifer:

You just like to change things up.

Aaron:

Well, I’m getting older, and I’m just wondering if I should just slow down on, because I love coffee so…

Jennifer:

What’s your alternative? Why don’t you share that?

Aaron:

I’m drinking dandelion tea, which does not… I mean, I like it. It looks like coffee.

Jennifer:

It looks like coffee.

Aaron:

It doesn’t quite do the same thing as coffee but it’s-

Jennifer:

Does it taste like coffee?

Aaron:

Nope. It doesn’t taste like coffee. It’s good. It’s just different. It’s called dandelion tea. You can look it up.

Jennifer:

I heard it takes a couple weeks to adjust to that and get used to it. Anyways, I really just wanted to share a little bit more with you guys, because it’s been three years of me struggling, pursuing, feeling defeated, and now finally in the last couple of months feeling like I’m gaining traction, and feeling better about myself. It’s been a lot of hard work. I just think that these things take time, and the investment is a big deal, and it is inconvenient sometimes, but it’s worth it because it’s our body.

Aaron:

Even when you don’t see the results right away. It’s good to just keep doing the right thing.

Jennifer:

I mean, we’re in March right now. If you had some goals for 2023, and starting out in January, February seemed difficult for you, I just want to encourage you to keep pressing on. Keep doing it.

Aaron:

I think, to be honest, I think a lot of people… If they want to cut weight, I think they should be, of course, exercising. Lifting weights is a huge thing, but counting calories is it’s an awesome thing to, like you said, take control. You can know what you’re eating.

Jennifer:

You can adjust it as needed.

Aaron:

You can adjust it. That’s awesome. I’m really proud of you, babe.

Jennifer:

Cool.

Aaron:

Speaking of what’s important to us, that’s what we’re talking about today is this idea that sometimes we have different things that we like.

Jennifer:

Different interests, different pursuits.

Aaron:

Hobbies might be a way of saying it, but it’s not always hobbies. It’s different things. Some people love books. Some people love learning. Some people love, like me, crypto. We’re going to talk about these types of things and how to incorporate that instead of just being bothered by your spouse’s thing that you’re not interested in like, “Oh, I wish you wouldn’t do that, because I’m not interested at all in it.” Finding ways of saying, “Hey, I want to be interested with you.”

Jennifer:

Sometimes I ask my friends like, “Hey, when I’m sitting down thinking, what should some of our podcasts be? What should these episodes focus on or highlight?” So, I reached out to a friend. I was just texting with her, and I said, “Hey, coming up for the podcast, what are some things that you’d love to hear?” She wrote back. What is important… How to navigate what’s important to your spouse when you’re not interested. So, I’m excited to be able to tackle this for her.

Aaron:

Why don’t we first jump into some of our experiences with this, because we have experienced this exact thing, you liking certain things, having certain desires, and being on the other side with mine? So, has there been in my life… If you look at our marriage, has there been interests and hobbies or things that I’ve been interested in, and that you might not have been, and what was that like?

Jennifer:

The first thing that comes to my mind, because you did it for so long, not currently, but you did do it for a very long time. That was CrossFit specifically. I like working out, and I like activity and having fun. It’s just it was not my style, but I did try it. I attempted it twice with you, and I felt so sick afterwards. I-

Aaron:

Did you ever finish? You didn’t finish the first time, the class.

Jennifer:

I think I did. No? I thought I did.

Aaron:

No. I remember I was… Maybe it was the second time, but I remember being one of the times with the kids, and you’re like-

Jennifer:

Oh, I think it was the second time, because I knew for sure forget it. I’m not-

Aaron:

You’re like, “I’m not doing this anymore,” but I was proud of you for trying.

Jennifer:

I just realized that it wasn’t something I personally wanted to pursue, but I had the opportunity to support you in your pursuit of it.

Aaron:

I did like it, and I went a lot. What was awesome is it wouldn’t have worked if you didn’t support me in it.

Jennifer:

I do remember having to emotionally and mentally support you in that, making sure like, “Okay, you got your stuff ready. You’re leaving,” so I’m there with the kids at home. I will say that going through that season with you, there were definitely times that heart issues arose, that times where I felt jealous because you were so consistent in something, and working out and looking great, and I was struggling in that. But also the time, the investment that you were able to make, because I was supporting you in that, and it was this weird twisted like, “I love that you’re doing this, but I’m also mad at you because you’re doing it.”

I had to work through those things. I didn’t always tell you when I was struggling, but there were times you were really great about leaving that open door of communication, where if I came to you feeling a certain way, feeling overwhelmed, or feeling like you’re doing this a lot, you would hear me, and we would talk about it.

Aaron:

Well, it was also during that season, you coming and trying, was you trying to figure out if it was something that we could do together, because we do want to do things together. I actually remember that during that time, that’s also when you started going to a different gym with a friend of ours. Even though it wasn’t CrossFit with me, which we have kids, it’s hard to do at the same time.

Jennifer:

I know. I know.

Aaron:

We figured out a way of making that work, very similar to what we’re doing now with Jujitsu, where you go on one night, and I go on another night. We’re trying to do that, but it is a good way. We’re going to talk about this with approaching your spouse’s interests, is figuring out how we can do it together, how we can fit that in if possible.

Jennifer:

So, being willing to try new things and try whatever your spouse is experiencing will help you sift through, and see if it’s something that can be done together, but also knowing realistically not everything will be a match, and not being surprised by that.

Aaron:

Which is true. It’s true.

I valued it, and you didn’t, but you learned to value it.

Jennifer:

Yeah. Well, I found value in it working for you, and you feeling really happy in the community and the friendships that you were building. You’d come home, and you’d want to talk about it, and that encouraged me. It did make me feel good that you were so happy to invest your time and body in a way that made you feel good.

Aaron:

It was also something that benefited me physically and mentally. There was a lot of benefits from it. So, I think that makes it easier, because it could be a hobby that doesn’t benefit me in that way. That’s just another layer of difficulty in it but…

Jennifer:

Totally. So, is there anything that I’ve been interested over the years that you weren’t?

Aaron:

Well, I mean, there’s things that you’ve been interested in that I used to be interested in maybe on some level when I was younger, but I’ve grown out of it, and I don’t really have any interest in, one of them being music. I have no interest. When I listen to music even, I don’t think about who it is. I don’t think about anything about them, but you love music, and you always have. You’ve always had a desire to be good at music.

Jennifer:

Musical.

Aaron:

Musical, you have. So, putting our children in piano is a desire of yours. It’s a desire of mine also, because I want them to be good at music. But for you personally, over the years, there’s been-

Jennifer:

I’ve tried a handful of things.

Aaron:

Which is a part of this journey. Even though you didn’t necessarily stick with all of them, you wanted to. You wanted to try things, and so violin was one of them.

Jennifer:

I did violin when I was younger in my teens. So, after we got married, we were living in Florida, and I asked Aaron if I could pursue violin lessons again, and you let me for a little bit.

Aaron:

Oh, I totally forgot about that.

Jennifer:

It was really challenging actually. We ended up moving shortly after I started, so I only got a couple of lessons in, and then we moved to Canada. That was one time. Then after we stuck our kids in piano, I was like, “Oh, maybe I should start there,” because I thought it would help the kids. I did that for about six months. I still fiddle with that, but-

Aaron:

Piano lessons?

Jennifer:

Not with lessons, but just at our piano at home, and then this last year starting guitar.

Aaron:

So, it’s been a consistent journey even though the thing like the specifics of the journey.

Jennifer:

I think drums is next. I’m just kidding.

Aaron:

Oh no. No, but guitar… Like I said, personally, I don’t have any interest in pursuing any of that.

Jennifer:

You don’t want to be in a band with me?

Aaron:

I used to be. I used to want to be in one. I used to want to be musically inclined, and I wish I did have that natural bone in me, but I don’t. So, it would take a lot of extra work, but you, you’re getting really good at guitar.

Jennifer:

Oh, thanks.

Aaron:

That’s something that I’ve had to… Just like you had to invest in me, I’ve had to invest in getting you instruments.

Jennifer:

When I tell you I found another kids’ violin on marketplace, and why we need it.

Aaron:

I’m like, “No.” I’m like, “No,” but getting you the guitar, getting you the tuner, getting you… and then recently getting you actual lessons, and you coming home, and needing time to practice.

Jennifer:

I was going to say the biggest thing for me is where we live, the only guitar lesson in our area that was available was right at dinnertime middle of the week. You’ve been so gracious to let me go, and take care of the kids, and feed them. I know it’s a short period of time, but it really means a lot to me.

Aaron:

But then on top of that, the invested time of you practice several times a week in bed before we go to bed, and then you’ll ask me to listen to a song that you’re practicing, and then… I just walked in today, and you were at the computer with a YouTube lesson. I was really impressed with you.

Jennifer:

I was practicing my strumming because that’s been the hardest thing.

Aaron:

But I could… Going back to this idea, because I’m not interested in it, I could be bothered by it. That’s something that we could be in our flesh of like, “Why are you even doing this? What? Are you going to be in a band? What are you…” I could have all these negative things.

Jennifer:

Have there been times that you have thought or felt?

Aaron:

Maybe in the past when you were pursuing things, and I didn’t see a follow through on. Even though your pursuit was consistent, you wanted to do music, and you would bring it up every four months like, “I want to be learning this. I want to be learning this,” but wanting you to do it, enjoying that you’re learning it and getting better at it, and then also believing you can, and encouraging you with it. So, it’s a practice with me loving you in this journey that you are on, and me participating in that way on the outside has been a really cool practice. So, what I’m saying is we could fight against it, and be like, “I don’t think you should do this.” I think this happens a lot in marriages, actually.

Jennifer:

Especially with finances, because taking lessons is that’s an expense. Buying an instrument, that’s an expense. This is just one hobby, one thing that I’m interested in, and it does require much time and-

Aaron:

Well, and think about this. We actually talked about this many, many episodes ago about how we look at money and finances. If I don’t value what you’re doing, if you want to play guitar, and I don’t value it. I’m like, “No. What are you going to do? Learn this? What are you…” I don’t want to invest in it, and I’m going to find the reasons why I shouldn’t. But often, we value the thing that we want higher. Like, “No, this thing that I’m… My hobby is important to me, and so we should invest money in that.” So, we have a very uneven way of viewing our values. All we’re encouraging in this podcast is maybe we can look beyond our own self, and say like, “Hey, this is actually valuable to them. How can I also value it?”

Jennifer:

It’s a big question to ask. I think part of marriage is the exploration of figuring out how to do that, exactly that. Very cool. Well-

Aaron:

Does it make you feel loved that you get to do it, and then you don’t feel bothered by me, or you don’t think I’m bothered by it?

Jennifer:

Oh yeah. Oh no. Well, and your encouragement to me is very huge. Like, when you did walk in earlier, you’re like, “You’re doing it.” I just felt like-

Aaron:

It sounded really good. At first, I thought it was the computer making the sound, and then I noticed you were doing it. I was like, “What in the world?”

Jennifer:

So cool. Well, I’ve briefly touched on this before, years ago, when it first came out because I was really impacted by it, but Jeremy and Audrey Roloff came out with a book called A Love Letter Life. In it, in one of the chapters is called The Principle of Sharing. I really love it. I really love the way that they addressed the principle of sharing in marriage, and how you can essentially find something to like about what your spouse likes or loves, because they do. I think the example in their story was coffee. So, if one of them liked coffee, and the other one didn’t, they could grow to love or like coffee because their spouse did.

The adventure there and the experience is trying to find what it is they love about it, which I just like that perspective. They do quote another book that they were really touched by called… Hold on, I’ve got to turn the page. A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken. They quote that book in their book, so I started to be confusing. I want to read what Sheldon and his wife Davy said about this principle of sharing in marriage. It says this, “If one of us likes anything, there must be something to like in it, and the other one must find it. That way, we shall create 1,000 strands, great and small, that will link us together.”

“Then we shall be so close that it would be impossible, unthinkable for either of us to suppose that we could ever recreate such closeness with anyone else, and our trust in each other will not only be based on love and loyalty, but on the fact of a 1,000 sharings, 1,000 strands twisted into something unbreakable.” Pretty, right?

Aaron:

That’s really poetic.

Jennifer:

I really love the way that they worded it.

Aaron:

Essentially, what they’re saying is learning to love things that your spouse loves is just another way of connecting with them, is just another way of becoming one with them.

Jennifer:

Connecting. Totally. Which is really important in marriage, because you don’t want to go year after year after year, and feel like you don’t know your spouse or feel disconnected from them, and so being able to share in these little moments and these little interests and these hobbies and these pursuits, it’s a way of getting to know each other, and experiencing one another by doing. So, we really love… That’s a big part of our marriage, Aaron, and I’ve really enjoyed being able to do that with you.

Aaron:

Well, and I think it’s a theme for our marriage, because if you remember going back to my proposal to you is I just said, “Whatever we do, I want to do it with you and with God, right?”

Jennifer:

Yeah.

Aaron:

So, everything… On some level, we don’t do everything together. But over the years, we’ve found ways of… It wasn’t always this way. There was times that we got bothered by each other’s interests and hobbies, but trying to work through those. Just a caveat, sometimes hobbies and interests need to go away. That’s a reality, and there could be many reasons for that, whether the hobby and interest is an unhealthy one, or it’s not financially feasible or time constraints, or there’s a many different things. So, we’re not trying to say that you should accept everything, and everything should always be supported perfectly.

Jennifer:

Supported and valued. There’s going to be some hard conversations.

Aaron:

We’re talking about in general, your spouse is going to have interests that you are not necessarily interested in. Maybe it’s sports. If you have a husband that loves football… I don’t like watching any sports, but Jennifer does sometimes.

Jennifer:

I do.

Aaron:

I can learn to love some of the things that you love. So over the years, there’s been… I’ve been interested in paintball, and you got into that. Did you meet me around at that time?

Jennifer:

I met you around that time, and I wasn’t interested in paintball at all.

Aaron:

But you were interested in me.

Jennifer:

I was interested in you, and so I’d go to your competitions just to watch you, but that’s not something that I would ever-

Aaron:

You loved spending time with your family a lot. Guess what I was doing a lot, spending time with you and your family all the time. So, we found common ground. One thing that we both loved from the beginning was going to the movies.

Jennifer:

Oh yeah, when we were dating.

Aaron:

That’s been a big bummer over the last handful of the years, because I feel like movies have just gone downhill. So, we don’t go often anymore, but that’s something that we did. Another thing that we did together was volunteering in youth group, and being youth leaders in our church and ministry.

Jennifer:

Ministry, it’s always been ministry.

Aaron:

Now, sitting here next to you talking to them. We try to do everything together, even though not everything can be done together, but we do have a desire to have similar interests, or to at least enjoy each other’s interests.

Jennifer:

I feel like we’ve had eyes for each other to seek out and see like, “What can we do together, and what do we like to do together?” Some of those things are photography. We did photography for a long time, writing.

Aaron:

Well, and that was something that I was interested in first. Then you started getting interested because of me, and then started asking me to teach you. We started going to do things together, and then we started business together. That was really cool.

Jennifer:

So same with writing, that was something I’ve always been interested in since a child. That was something you grew in as-

Aaron:

Because I hadn’t… I had zero interest in 12 books later.

Jennifer:

But as… Look at that. Look at you, so cool. Our bottom line is spending time together, spending quality time together, and connecting in those ways, and letting those experiences that we share help us to grow in our understanding, and just knowing each other on a deeper level.

Aaron:

Which I think it has, and it also allows for a lot more fun and excitement and differences and uniqueness.

Jennifer:

It gives us something to talk about.

Aaron:

Yeah, it gives us something to talk about. So, what are some practical ways husbands and wives can seek to learn how to love what their spouse loves?

Jennifer:

Well, first off, I mentioned earlier that with your pursuit of CrossFit, how sometimes when a spouse gets really into something and it requires a lot, there could be some heart issues stirred up in us of frustration or jealousy or resentment-

Aaron:

Bitterness.

Jennifer:

Name it. So, what I think is really cool about these suggestions that we’re going to give right here, these practical ways of supporting each other, and learning how to love what each other loves is it kills those things. It kills those-

Aaron:

It’s like the opposite.

Jennifer:

It kills those negative heart wrestling. So, I think these are really powerful. Why don’t you share the first one?

Aaron:

Invite yourself into it. Don’t be afraid to ask to tag along. So if your spouse is going to… Let’s say your spouse loves rock counting, that’s something that people in Oregon do. I don’t know if anyone’s heard of that before but-

Jennifer:

Thunder eggs.

Aaron:

You look for these rocks that you crack them open, and they have geodes on the inside of them. We actually want to take our kids to do that this summer. We tried doing it last year, and it was flash flooding in the area, so we couldn’t go do it, but we should do it this year. Let’s say that’s something they love doing. Say, “Hey, can I go?”

Jennifer:

If you’re the spouse that’s doing it, invite your spouse along with you.

Aaron:

Yeah. “Hey, would you like to come join me in this?” It’s a simple little thing. Maybe they’ll be caught off guard the first time, because maybe you wanted nothing to do with it before. Maybe they’ll be like, “Maybe. Sure, I guess.” What’s the next one?

Jennifer:

Ask them questions about it that will help you learn about it.

Aaron:

This is a big one. Just simply asking your spouse about their interest, truly wanting to hear them talk about it, in the process, you get to have a good conversation. So, think about how often you’re sitting with your spouse, and you’re like, “Man, we have…” Maybe you don’t have nothing to talk about, because you talk about everything, or you have everything in common, kids, work, all things. It gives you something to talk about, and you get to hear them. You’re inviting them to share with you, and open up their heart, and talk about something that they love. People love talking about things that they love, I think.

Jennifer:

I think too, just like joy’s contagious where someone’s laughing, having a good time. You want to have a good time. You want to laugh. So when someone’s talking about something passionately or excited with enthusiasm, it’s hard not to just jump in, and like, “Yeah.”

Aaron:

I want to encourage everyone listening also to become good question askers. We’ve been told before, because we would meet new people, and have them over for dinner. Jennifer and I would just sit there asking real questions like, “Well, how’d you guys get to that conclusion? When did you decide that that was going to be good for your life, or how did you make your way to that state?” They’re really engaged, and they’d leave, and they’re like, “Man, you asked us really good questions,” but it shows the other person that you’re interested in them, and that you love them, that you want to know them. So, asking questions is a really powerful way of connecting.

Jennifer:

The next one is just give time for it. So, make it feasible during your week for your spouse to jump into that thing that they really love, or learn about it, and also making time for you guys to do it together. So, think ahead. If you need a babysitter or whatever, make it happen. Make it happen and make time for it.

Aaron:

That’s good. Investing, the next one is investing into it using money to support an interest. It’s a sacrifice of love. Maybe it takes saving. Maybe you say, “Hey, we’re going to… I’m going to stop getting this coffee once a week, or I’m going to put this money aside so that we can do this thing together. It’s not going to make us go into debt, and it’s not going to hurt us this way. We’re going to save, so it’s something to look forward to, and it shows that I want to invest in it with you on some level.” Again, always the caveat going back to if it’s something that is not financially feasible in the season, maybe it’s not the season for it, and you guys should talk about that. But if it is, putting money aside is way smarter than just throwing credit cards at it.

Jennifer:

Sometimes things are just for a season, and so maybe going into it with that perspective of like, “We can budget it. We can fit it in the budget, but only for six months,” and being able to compromise with each other is a really big one, and communicate about, “Okay, what can we do?”

Aaron:

Last one, of course, not the least, and there’s probably another whole list of what we could add to this, but-

Jennifer:

This one probably feels the best.

Aaron:

Encourage them.

Jennifer:

To keep going.

Aaron:

But not just keep going, but encourage them in the process of how you enjoy watching them grow in that, how you enjoy watching them use that skill or that knowledge or whatever that is that they’re doing. People, we love to be encouraged. Like, “Did it feel good?” You said it when I came in, and I was like, “Wow, you’re doing awesome?” The other day, you were playing a song, and I started singing the song in the other room.

Jennifer:

I was like, “You know it? You can hear it?”

Aaron:

You’re like, “You’re recognizing the song.” So, encouraging them goes a long way, and letting them know that you love them and all of their interests. You love everything about them.

Jennifer:

Here’s what I mean when I earlier said that doing these things will kill some of those negative feelings you have when they arise. If your heart is in a place where you’re stewing at home, frustrated because they’re at the gym again, or they’re doing whatever, name it. Instead, you’re able to have self-control in that emotion, and say, “Even though I feel this way, when they get home, I’m going to encourage them,” and the words come out of your mouth, “Hey, keep going, or hey, how did it go tonight?”

Aaron:

How did it go?

Jennifer:

You try and engage in that way, and you listen, and you hear. You can also pray about your heart, pray that God changes your heart so that you can keep supporting your spouse. I think those are ways that you can help yourself navigate this.

Aaron:

If your spouse truly believes and knows that you support them, and love them, and are excited about these things that they’re excited about, if there needs to be… We’re just about to talk about this. If something’s getting in the way, if this interest is too much, let’s say I was going to the gym every single day, and it started getting in the way of our actual life and our relationship, then it allows that opportunity to say, “Hey, I don’t want to stop you from doing this, but how can we make a change because it’s getting in the way of this and this?”

So, instead of a, “I hate that you do this. You need to stop,” it’s a, “Hey, I love that you do this, but can we make some adjustments?” How can we compromise? We’re bringing up a second ago of compromising, and which leads me to this question of like, “Should our individual interests ever get in the way of the other important things?” That’s rhetorical is that they-

Jennifer:

You mean, what happens when an interest or a hobby impedes on life or whatever, everything.

Aaron:

On parenting, on our marriage, on work, on our finances, on our time, all the things, because those are things that we should consider in thinking about these, because we never want to… Again, we’re not blanket saying, “If you have an interest, it’s valid, and it should be justified, and it should be supported.”

Jennifer:

No. I think boundaries are important. That means that goes back to communication, and being both sides, being open to digging into those conversations of, “Hey, let’s evaluate. How is this working for us?” Being willing. If you’re the spouse that’s pursuing something, you’ve got to do it humbly. You got to do it in a way that honors your family, and doesn’t take advantage of them.

Aaron:

Well, we should never have our personal ancillary interests. The things that are like extracurricular, those should never have priority in our life. So, we got to consider that. Philippians 2:3 and 4 said, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility, count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” This goes for both concepts that we’re bringing up, this idea of how you can enjoy the interests of your spouse, but also as the spouse with the interest, with the hobby to say, “I’m not going to elevate this above my wife’s interests or my husband’s interests. I’m going to let that be held loosely, because I love my spouse, and I want to look to their interests also.”

Jennifer:

That’s really good.

Aaron:

We need to be thinking about those things of just holding these things loosely, and knowing that we can enjoy things. We can have interests and things that we want to pursue, and bettering ourselves, and being creative, and you name it, but we do have to consider those things along the lines of all the things that are more important in our life, more valuable, and not just saying, “Nope, this is my interest, and you got to accept it.”

Jennifer:

Well, speaking of the most valuable, the most important thing, we’re going to do a little transition here, and just chat spiritually on how do we enjoy or learn to love what God loves? Obviously, this is a marriage podcast, and we focus on the marriage relationship, but it’s also really important to address individually, “How are we responding to God and in our relationship with him, that intimacy, that connection, that closeness?” How do we enjoy to learn to love what God loves?

Aaron:

The question would be is why would we care to explore, and know what God loves? Because you could think like, “Oh, I’m a Christian. I love God. I have all these things that I’m going to focus on in my life, and I have my everyday thing.” But why would we want to know what he loves?

Jennifer:

I think if we love him, if we say that we love him, and we do truly desire to grow close to him, then we should stop to consider.

Aaron:

Kind of like with your spouse?

Jennifer:

Yeah. It’s a laying down of your own self, and putting his interests above your own.

Aaron:

So, the answer would be because we love him. We would… Like, “Because I love you, I want to pursue your interests, and understand you, and know you.” So, when we participate in what he loves, it helps us know him better.

Jennifer:

1 John 4:19 says, “We love because he first loved us.”

Aaron:

So, he initiates. We reciprocate, right? He loves us, so we know how to love. Simply because we love him, and want to grow in our relationship with him, we are motivated to consider what does he love, and do I love it too? Because I think… I don’t think. We should love what God loves. To do that, we need to find out what he loves, and search it out. His word is what tells us that. 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

Jennifer:

So knowing this, that God loves a cheerful giver, we can also love a cheerful giver, but we could also be a cheerful giver. There’s a lot to it in putting our mind to and understanding what God loves.

Aaron:

Well, and if you consider what this says… There’s tons of scripture in the Bible that you can look up to just dig into what God loves. We pulled a few just to give us a little primer. But if God loves a cheerful giver, does that mean God just wants you to give? No.

Jennifer:

I’m quiet, because I’m waiting for you to answer your own question.

Aaron:

No. Yes. It’s okay. No, it’s not that He just loves givers. Like, “Oh, just give,” and do it with a frustrated, bitter heart, and give as little as possible, and when you give, judge how you’re giving it. No, he wants a… He loves cheerful givers. All throughout the Old Testament, all throughout the New Testament, when it comes to giving, it’s of willing hearts. We talked about this a handful of episodes ago about how we give. So, we can ask God. Say, “God, I want to be a cheerful giver. Teach me how to be cheerful in my giving, in my generosity, in whatever that looks like.”

That’s one thing we can say, “Oh, we know God loves that for sure.” If I’m not that, let’s figure that out. Why don’t you read the next one?

Jennifer:

Psalm 37:28 says, “For the Lord loves justice, He will not forsake his saints. They are preserved forever, but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.”

Aaron:

So, another thing, God loves justice. He loves it when people are treated rightly. I don’t want to play off of modern day definitions of justice, but justice is it’s fairness. It’s rightness. It’s impartiality. It’s, “I’m not treating you differently than I treat that person, because of your position or your occupation, or no, I treat you with fairness and equality, and I’m not partial. I’m impartial. I try and… Essentially, I treat everyone as if they are made in the image of God. I love them, because God loves them.” That’s what God wants. He loves that kind of justice, that I love people.

The next one, going to people, John 3:16, “For God so love the world that He gave his only son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” So, if God was willing to send his only-begotten son for the world, for the people that he created in this world, I think I should love people, right?

Jennifer:

Yeah.

Aaron:

God loves them. Don’t you… Do you… This is something that right now we see in the world, there’s very little love left, true, godly love for people. Then I think it goes especially for those who claim the name of Christ. I think if I claim to be a lover of Jesus, then I should love those who love Jesus with a deep, deep, brotherly affection, and sisterly affection that they’re part of my family. 1 John 4:20 through 21 says, “If anyone says I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar. For he who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God who he has not seen, and this commandment we have from him. Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”

So, God’s telling us, “If you’re going to love me, you have to love my people. You have to. There’s no way around it. You can’t love me, and not my son’s bride, the bride of Christ.” You cannot say, “We are followers of Jesus and a part of his body,” but avoid the body of Christ. I brought this up last week, and this is the last point I want to make. I think this one point is so important. It’s something that we need a revival in the church, that the people in the church, the people of God have a revived and fresh love for the bride of Christ, for the people of God that we don’t avoid each other. We don’t oust each other. We seek to bring peace and bring people in and support and love.

Jennifer:

Very cool. There’s a lot of scripture that gives insight into what God loves. One of the things that I was thinking about as you were talking was that God loves when we share the gospel. God loves when disciples are made, and when people come to know him, and we got to share in an experience with him when we did missionary work, and we traveled. We went to Africa. We went to Brazil, and we had all these interactions with other people, and then sharing the gospel in that way, and seeing in different parts of the world, people coming to know him.

I feel like in thinking about this concept of what is God love, I feel like we got to partake in a part of God’s heart for the world in that way. That was really cool.

Aaron:

It was cool, and it was very eye-opening. Going back to this whole church thing, just realizing that God has his church everywhere, and that we’re a part of it, and we get to love it.

Jennifer:

Amen.

Aaron:

I just want to encourage everyone listening that you should love what God loves.

Jennifer:

Cool. So, if anything, go have a conversation with your spouse and talk about this idea of what does God love? what do you love? What do I love, and how can we do all this loving together?

Aaron:

Yes. It’s good.

Jennifer:

Well, at the end of every episode, we encourage you guys with a little growth spurt. This is just a challenge, something that you can go, and do this next week. This month of March, we’re focusing on springing into fun, and doing a fun activity on your next date night. Aaron and I actually did this last week. We had so much fun. I went out of my way to take him to this really cutesy little art, art video.

Aaron:

I was going to pick this up earlier.

Jennifer:

It has all these ceramics, where you can paint on wood, and you basically definitely just pick whatever you want.

Aaron:

Definitely, more your style.

Jennifer:

I love the idea. As soon as we walked in, he’s looking around, and he looks over at me, and he’s like, “Do you know there’s this virtual reality place right down the street?” I’m like, “You don’t want to do this, and say, “No. No. We can. You choose.” o, no. We can you choose. I’m so hint,

Aaron:

Hint. Hint.

Jennifer:

So it was totally fine because I didn’t have anything booked or reserved or anything. I’m just planning on taking you there next time.

Aaron:

Okay, but we go do a VR each other, and that was pretty fun.

Jennifer:

We also did arcade.

Aaron:

Arcade was awesome.

Jennifer:

They had all these-

Aaron:

That was also more your style. You’re really good at the arcade stuff. I was very impressed with you. I was like, “How often have you been at arcades.”

Jennifer:

Man, I played a lot of video games in my life. But anyways, that was a cool little fun experience with you. I played Fruit Ninja on the VR.

Aaron:

I didn’t get to do that one.

Jennifer:

Oh, it’s fun.

Aaron:

I’m going to do it next time.

Jennifer:

It’s cool.

Aaron:

All right. We’re going to end with prayer. Dear Lord, thank you for creating us so uniquely. Thank you for the interests we have, and the way our interests give us fun ways of connecting in marriage. We pray we would never let our interests get in the way of what is most important. We do hope that we grow and learn together as we experience fun things that we love to do. May you be glorified as we pursue these interests together, and navigate with love and respect. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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