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Husband’s Hobbies are Affecting our Marriage

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My husband is a wonderful man who has many different interests. But, since we have been married, I have noticed that he gets his mind on a certain hobby and, well, almost obsesses about it. Last year, it was photography. He was talking about wanting to be a professional photographer. He bought many many books on how to become a photographer and to submit his photos to get them published. Although I believe his photos are very nice, he never once submitted one of them. He also convinced me to buy a very expensive digital camera which he has not used in months. At the time he wanted the camera, he said that if I bought it for him that he would help pay me back. This never happened. In fact, he began looking up other expensive lenses and equipment. He was constantly looking on websites and in catalogs to find more stuff for his photography.

Now that the photography seems to be on its way out, he has moved on to fishing. He wants us to buy a boat, even though I am in graduate school and we have several rental properties that could use improvements. We have the money in savings, but I am afraid that if we use the money to buy this boat, we won’t have any when we truly need it. We have also discussed how we would have to budget after purchasing the boat, and it seems like if I want to go out to eat more than usual in a week, he’s asking, “but aren’t we going to buy a boat??” He has also gotten somewhat obsessive about buying equipment for the boat, buying fishing rods, going to fishing and boating stores, etc. The other night, I woke up to find him on the computer looking at websites on how to paint boats.

When we moved into our new house, we had to get some of his things from an old storage building. In there, I found easels, paint, paint brushes, sketch books, and lots of other art stuff. I guess before we met, he was having an “art phase.” So, I have come to the conclusion that this has been an ongoing thing, and probably will be neverending.

Maybe this sounds silly, but I am starting to get really frustrated. Last week, he mentioned that maybe I was right, that we didn’t have enough money for a boat. Ten minutes later, he was talking about spending the money that he would “save” from not buying the boat on some expensive camera lenses. When I asked him why he was thinking of doing that, he said that if he couldn’t put his efforts into fishing and boating, that he’d reinvest them in photography.

He has ADD and Bipolar II, which are kept pretty well under wraps thanks to medication. But, could these illness have an affect on these obsessive hobbies? Or am I just being an annoyed wife? I tell him that I wish we could put money into an expensive hobby of mine, but he replies that I don’t have any hobbies at all, which hurts. I enjoy reading, shopping, going out to dinner, going out with friends, watching movies, going to school, etc. Are these not hobbies? I need some advice on how to address this situation. I feel that if we don’t buy this boat, he will a. be completely unhappy and make me feel guilty, or b. will put his efforts into some other expensive hobby to obsess over. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s wonderful that he has hobbies and interests. But, when is it too much?? Help please!

Husband’s Hobbies are Affecting our Marriage

Answered by on -

A.

I can’t know for sure what is going on with your husband without talking with him. However, his obsessions and his lack of concern about what they cost are symptoms consistent with the manic phase of bipolar illness. My guess is that he is under-medicated.

Please ask your husband if you can go along with him to talk with his psychiatrist the next time he has an appointment. Your husband is probably so used to the way he thinks about money that it doesn’t occur to him to talk about it with his doctor. You can provide the psychiatrist with valuable input about how your husband’s “hobbies” are threatening the financial stability of your marriage. Your husband can tell the doctor how he experiences his desires. The combination of the two reports will give the psychiatrist the information she or he needs to be helpful.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Husband’s Hobbies are Affecting our Marriage

This article has been updated from the original version, which was originally published here on August 13, 2007.

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2019). Husband’s Hobbies are Affecting our Marriage. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 25, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2017/08/13/husbands-hobbies-are-affecting-our-marriage/
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Last updated: 21 May 2019
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 21 May 2019
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