Last Friday I was in SF visiting a few of our micro market customers.
My last stop was at a long time account of J&J’s.
Our main contact there is head of security (how he came to run the office coffee and vending programs I’ll never quite understand but I’m so glad he did).
He’s the kind of guy who volunteers to work Christmas so that his team members with younger kids can spend the holiday at home, who plays bass in his church’s band, and who rehabilitates trolls with his wife of 41 years (I’ll explain that last one).
When I went to check in John (not his real name) was at the security desk. He asked how married life has been. I told him it was good but that I was having a difficult time finding a groove in the evenings (do we always eat dinner together, do we do our own thing, is it okay if he watches TV and I read a book, etc.) I asked if he had any advice.
At first he rubbed his face and said “I don’t know…I married up.”
But after a smile and a laugh his advice was this: have your own interests. He said that as newlyweds who also worked together he and his wife spent all of their time together including their free time. But he quickly realized that his wife didn’t enjoy fishing as much as he did. She would go with him to the lake and he could sit there quietly for hours enjoying the day but after a little while she would become restless, start walking around the lake, and try to will time to move faster. They realized it was okay to do things separately, to have their “own things.”
I was in a hurry to finish my delivery and get out of the city before traffic got too bad so I thanked him for his advice and began the walk to the freight elevator to go upstairs. I thought that was it but when I arrived at the market John was already there buying two Crystal Geyser Limes from the self-checkout kiosk.
He picked up the conversation where he left off which led me to ask how he and his wife spent their evenings. He then went on to explain a hobby that his wife had picked up.
She was cleaning out their house when she found an old troll doll. That same day she had cut her hair and had a crazy thought, why not take off the doll’s hair and replace it with her own? So she did.
And you know what? It turned out pretty cute. She started doing the same thing to other trolls and eventually started making things for them from odds and ends around the house (think The Borrowers): aviator goggles out of old bottle caps, sleeping bags from John’s actual sleeping bag sleeve, etc. (sidenote: I wish I had pictures to show you because it sounds weird, but her creations are beautiful…really truly works of art that John had pictures of on his phone).
John got into it too. If he’s shopping and finds something for the trolls that he thinks she’ll like (for example an old toy car) he picks it up and in the evenings they work on the creations together (their big project at that the moment is a big camping scene, hence the sleeping bags).
When his wife said she was surprised he was into the project. He said, how could he not be? They were too stinkin cute.
They now joke that they are in the business of rehabilitating trolls.
So I think that’s it. I think the secret sauce is finding a way to have your own thing while also passionately pursuing what makes the other person happy. To find time for your individual interests while also having a thing (or two) that you can both enjoy together, and to having enough insight into you and your spouse to know which things should be which.
Also please note this is not a free pass to ignore the interests your spouse decides to pursue on their own time. Just because I don't want to watch every Dodgers game doesn't mean I shouldn't ask Ryan how his team (that he is very passionate about) is doing. And just because Ryan doesn't want to read every self help book known to man doesn't mean he can't ask me if I've read anything interesting lately.
Just click and save the image below for your free screen saver. The real wallpaper featured in this photo is from West Elm (on sale for $39.99 a panel at the time of this post).
Ryan and I have figured out what one of our “rehabilitating trolls” projects is and have started working on it this weekend. But it’s still a secret so…. that’s all on that for now.