My wedding anniversary was last week, on the 17th — nine years married, can you believe? Not bad for the couple who each thought they were never gonna get married, and never had any real ambition to do so. Our marriage was very much of the, “this feels right for our situation” variety, rather than “marriage is a de facto life goal, so we gotta do it” variety.
I give my husband a lot of shit — mostly playfully, mostly jokingly — and this week has been no exception. I’d been working on a painting that overall turned out really well, but with which I had a hell of a rough patch earlier this week. It’s another portrait of sorts, and noses and midlines continue to be the bane of my existence (hence why I continue to paint them, over and over again).¹
I have a habit of talking, half to myself and half to whoever is un/fortunate enough to be present during my diatribes, while I work on a piece. This meant that during the hours which I was working, my husband had to listen to what probably amounted to a litany of, “is this the color I was using? Yeah, ok. What would happen if I — oh, there we go, that’s pretty. Should I do an extra layer of highlights? Ooh, I should have put a wash down before I started this detail. Does this look bad? How does this look? Andy? Andy???”
Now, I get that given my penchant for rambling mostly to myself, it doesn’t bother me that he’s not poised to answer my every beck and call when I eventually address him directly; like, if I had to actively listen to someone go on the kind of tangents I do on the off-chance that maybe they’ll actually try to engage me, I’d go bonkers. Like, it would just literally be impossible to get anything done, because I wouldn’t have the mental time and space to focus on anything except their tirades. So it’s not that he isn’t automatically in active listening mode that bothered me. It is, as I often tell him, that he “doesn’t care.”
And he doesn’t. Like, he doesn’t care about painting. At all. And yes, it sometimes annoys me. It’s sometimes disheartening that I can’t really have a meaningful conversation about something that has caught my interest with one of the most important people in my life. And I’m willing to bet their are a lot of people who feel the same way about their partners’ interest — or lack there of — in their hobbies.
And honestly, I am going to continue to stand up and assert that I would like for him to exhibit a little more interest in my hobby, at least to the point of giving me honest feedback when I ask him for it, or giving me a candid opinion (because they whole, “I don’t know, I don’t know art” does not cut it; like, bitch, I know you’re not an artist, I live with you. I’m still asking your opinion as my husband. I have “Art” friends to get “art” opinions from if and when I need them).
But. But but but. I am also going to stand up and assert that I, and probably a lot of people, need to really examine the ways our partners interact with our passions and assess whether it’s really lack of support or lack of interest, because while one might be nice, the other is absolutely essential.
Much as I’d love for him to be interested in painting, or crafting, or art, he doesn’t owe me interest in any particular subject, and honestly, fair. Because it’s not like I go out of my way to learn the ins and outs and intricacies of any of his games (video or tabletop), and I show about as much overall interest in his games themselves as he shows in my art (the real difference being that he doesn’t reach out and try to talk to me about his games with nearly as much ferventness or frequency as I do my art).
But while he show no interest in art, he show interest in my interest in art. He shows support.
He comes home from the store with interestingly sized canvases for me. He randomly stocks up on sketch books and notebooks when he goes out to do the grocery shopping. He walks with me through galleries that I know are snorefests for him. He points out cool colored paints that he thinks I’d like to experiment with. He spends inordinate time holding various shopping baskets for me while I comb through the shelves in any craft aisle we go through. When I’m on the fence about an art-related expense, he tells me to go for it, and more than once when I’ve ruled it as too much, he’s gone out after me and made the purchase himself.
He doesn’t care that I came up with a new acryllic technique, except for the fact that I’m pleased with myself. He doesn’t care that, hey, I finally painted a nose I’m happy with, save for the fact that I’m happy.
Yeah, I’d like him to actually be into the art. But I can’t force him to love what I love. I don’t intimately enjoy all of his hobbies, and he doesn’t expect me to, so it’s unfair to ask him to feign that enjoyment for me.
But he cares that I care. He’s happy that I’m happy, and encourages me to pursue the hobbies that foster that happiness.
That’s a pretty good rule in a marriage, I think. That’s pretty fucking important.
¹ “Sucking at something is the first step to becoming sorta good at something.” –Jake, Adventure Time (look, in this house, we take in wisdom where we find it). I figure the more I force myself to paint something I suck at (instead of avoiding it, as is my instinct), I might actually improve my technique and grow from it. Wild, right?