Help! My Husband Is Putting His Hobby Before Our Marriage

I've been married for one year. My husband has to travel for work. He leaves Monday morning and comes home on Thursday night. I work Monday to Friday. The only time we can spend together is Saturday and Sunday. He has past failed relationships, which he says failed because both his exes cheated on him. I have never had any relationship before. When we first started meeting, I knew about his budding hobby of photography, however I never realized how crazily obsessed he was with it. I married him because I genuinely fell in love with him. However, he tells me now that he married me because he found me a kind-hearted girl and I supported his photography. We have a very troublesome marriage, as we do not get to spend much time together. And more importantly, he thinks there is nothing wrong with that. He said that's what he thought our marriage would be like. I had expected that as a newly married couple we would spend more time together and do things as a couple to bond, however I later realized that he only wants to spend time together (most of the time) if we are doing anything related to photography. Even our honeymoon trip was completely changed into a photography trip. He gets upset if we miss a sunset or a sunrise photo, but is OK with the fact that—because of his obsession—we are missing out on OUR time, our memories together. If I say this, he says I am against his photography. Now he only wants to shoot night photos. He plans trips for himself once a month which are about being out in the night in national parks with no lights, rattlesnakes, and whatnot. He does not include me. But if he is taking pictures at night, obviously he has to sleep during the day, so that doesn't work out. I have started feeling so alone from the past few months that he bothers me. It affects my mood, I am not happy anymore. I feel my husband does not love me, but rather married me because I was a good fit for his lifestyle. Now he is trying to tell me that he will go out one weekend to take pictures by himself, then spend three weekends with me and work from home for one week a month to compensate for that one weekend he goes out alone. I can't wrap my head around this "I will fit you in my empty spaces in my life" kind of attitude that he is giving me. He says photography will always be his priority and if this doesn't work well with me, I can leave. It hurts me even more that I am the only one who is affected by our issues. He is prepared to let me go, but not his obsession. I am not sure what to do. —Picture Imperfect
Dear Picture Imperfect,

It sounds like you are feeling very alone in your marriage. Understandably, that is causing you great pain. I imagine your husband’s rather disinterested, even cold, response to your concerns causes you to feel unloved and like you are just not a priority for him.

Is he willing to consider engaging in couples therapy? Are you? It seems like it could be very helpful given how far apart you two are on this issue. You are so deeply hurt and unable to get your needs met, and he seems both totally unfazed by your expressions of pain and largely unwilling to make any changes. I wonder if couples therapy could help the two of you to hear each other a bit better. If empathy and compassion can fill the space between you, you might find some middle ground.

Is he willing to consider engaging in couples therapy? Are you? It seems like it could be very helpful given how far apart you two are on this issue.

I also wonder if middle ground isn’t closer than it seems. It sounds like he is willing to compromise to some degree in that he is planning to work from home one week each month since he is also planning to take one weekend a month to go on photography trips. This may indicate that he has heard you to some degree and is willing to make a change to address your concerns.

Couples therapy might also provide an opportunity to bring some of your individual issues to light. I wonder what it is like for your husband to have had both of his previous relationships end due to infidelity. Does this cause him to keep you at a distance so he doesn’t get close enough to get hurt?

You indicate that this is your first relationship. It sounds like you had a lot of expectations about what marriage would be like and those expectations are not being met. An exploration of these unmet expectations might produce some valuable insights for you.

I hope you will both consider seeking out couples therapy to try to bring the relationship to a place that works for both of you. Even if he is unwilling, you might find your own individual therapy to be helpful in sorting out your feelings and determining your course of action.

Best wishes,

Sarah

Sarah Noel
Sarah Noel, MS, LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist living and working in Brooklyn, New York. She specializes in working with people who are struggling through depression, anxiety, trauma, and major life transitions. She approaches her work from a person-centered perspective, always acknowledging the people she works with as experts on themselves. She is honored and humbled on a daily basis to be able to partner with people at such critical points in their unique journeys.
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  • Sara

    Sara

    July 3rd, 2015 at 12:24 PM

    I’m sorry, he told you that he would leave you if you could not support his hobby? Are you serious? I would not play 2nd fiddle to anything else, you are his wife and should be his top priority. Now I guess that you say you have never had another relationship before, so I can see where you may not have learned yet that you should be first. I hope that he realizes the error of his words and sees that it is imperative that he make you take priority over everything else or else you should be out the door.

  • Corinne

    Corinne

    July 4th, 2015 at 11:27 AM

    Surely there must have been some kind of clue that he was this obsessed before the two of you got married?

  • Amos

    Amos

    July 6th, 2015 at 4:05 PM

    We all have to have our own thing to stay somewhat sane, yes? But what doesn’t seem right to me is that he would choose this, a hobby, over his wife and family. I am perplexed. I guess I am of the mindset that people show you who they really are, it’s simply that sometimes even when they have shown us time and again we still refuse to see it. Well here you are, handed the perfect opportunity to see what he is again. Are you willing to see that now?

  • kirona

    kirona

    July 6th, 2015 at 10:34 PM

    I had a possible similar experience. My ex husband had his own priorities before me -work, money and alcohol ( and he let me know about that) and even before our children. Nothing was more important than what he decided is important. It was an unilateral decision. He did not care about anything else -I was thinking he is a narcissist or bipolar or abused as a child or traumatized because his parents had had a terrible relationship, I kept excusing him and helping him in his work just to have a common subject. He could not discuss anything else, made him bored, he continuously changed the subject back to his interests.All our life we were following his strategies and plans. He never appreciate spending time together with me and children alone if it was not about work or alcohol involved. He is a still the same. I divorced 7 years ago after almost 20 years living together, 7 years and I still carry the trauma. He refused any kind of therapy but send me in therapy as me being the problem. I studied a lot-psychology, family therapy etc, nothing worked with him.I learned my lesson, and I would never stay again with someone who does not care about me-is too damaging for anyone self esteem and what is the point? I am not sure if you are in a similar situation, seems like that, but I can be wrong. He was also my first serous relationship. I had children, I believed he will grow up and become a parent, a father, never happen. He behave like my teenagers son even now, he is not interested in a relationship for the sake of the relationship. I “studied” him, try to change him, tried to change me etc… nothing really worked ever. He is successful in the eyes of the world and that makes him feel invincible in a way and careless with the rest of us. As Amos said above, you can see him again, do not try to deny the reality, do not try to convince yourself that you are able to live like that. I think you need much more closeness than you husband is ABLE to give right now. Maybe he will stay like that forever, maybe he will accept therapy-I have my doubts here but maybe he will try to change-in this case do not lose time, not doing anything will hep with establishing strong patterns in you couple-patterns that you already do not appreciate living at all.

  • James

    James

    July 11th, 2015 at 5:45 AM

    Maybe he feels like he is being restricted from doing something of his own that he enjoys, although it does not really sound like that.

  • Tobe

    Tobe

    January 2nd, 2016 at 5:29 PM

    I am in the same situation. Sadly after 25 years together,over 15 married my spouse left us. He ended it by cheating, finding another. Of course she left him. Why…because he didn’t spend enough time with her.

    My spouse loved exciting hobbies. We were single so of course we adventured together. Not so extreme but we did fun things. We married and we made more money. And the more he spent. He was able to spend on developing his interests. I accepted he had hobbies but we discussed family was a goal and priority.

    But he didn’t change when kids came. Instead he pulled away since i became the mother. He still was free to do his hobbies now without me. And he took on more. All very expensive. All putting us into debt. Major debt.

    Hobbies ranged from new jobs and moving and renovating homes every few years. Trading up cars. Watercraft. Snowmobiles. Yachts. Trailers. And more … every year.

    When I fell into depression recently from living like this and the financial debt. He cheated. And left us.

    He tried to reconcile over years but only if i accepted him as he was. He told me he wouldn’t change. He refused counselling because he refused any change. I just had to accept him.

    He said that he refuses to compromise and sacrifice. He said he will not be miserable and unhappy married and not investing in his hobbies. And that he will not be controlled. Instead he’ll find a girl like him. That loves his interests has no kids and will not care about debt or she’ll have money.

    Sadly I am filing for divorce soon. I’ve only been with my husband ever.

    I don’t know what it’s like to be loved but i feel I’m scarred and have no idea how I’ll ever be able to trust another man with my heart.

    Kiorna God Bless you. Your husband made some compromise. I hope he’ll do some counselling.

    Best wishes!

  • katrina r

    katrina r

    April 29th, 2016 at 3:31 AM

    Kirona i have similar experience, we’ve only been 2 years, and im already hating every fiber if our marriage. Im just gathering courage on how to leave. There’s always something between us, guess what, same as all of you: hobbies hobbies hobbies. I
    Wish ive seen through him earlier in yhe relationship then i would not even feel this trapped.

  • Orange Purple Polka Dots

    Orange Purple Polka Dots

    May 1st, 2017 at 3:55 PM

    Hi-I just wanted to say that I believe Sarah Noel hit the nail on the head.
    For whatever reasons his two past relationships ended in them cheating on him (maybe they were ignored). He may still have been affected by this outcome and transferring his feelings about what happened onto his new wife. And of course Sarah Noel again dings the bell, as the wife ‘picture perfect’ feels understandably lonely and unloved (been there), but also brought into the relationship her thoughts about things. Maybe ‘picture perfect’ needs to snazzy things up when he comes home on the weekends suggesting he takes pictures of her . Then he will be focusing his hobby on her! Problem not really solved but sorta diverted… just a thought…. possibly maybe?

  • Colorful Creek

    Colorful Creek

    October 24th, 2017 at 5:38 PM

    Hi Picture-Perfect,
    Your story is very very similar to mine. Except that my husband picked up photography after we got married, so there was no warning sign for me at all. We get into arguments all the time over photography now, and we are expecting a baby very soon. I feel deep sadness and hopeless for my and my baby’s future.
    If you don’t mind sharing – May I know if you were able to find a good solution to this very dire problem?
    I am thinking about couples therapy, but that would be the last chance I am giving to our marriage.
    I am

  • Yellow Racoon

    Yellow Racoon

    November 11th, 2017 at 5:50 AM

    Hi, it feels so good to read similar stories as mine… After 2 years of marriage, my husband who has 10000 hobbies (swing dancing, tango, tennis, Japanese, wine, building apps, etc.) and career change plans (opening a wine bar, becoming a Japanese interpreter, change job, go travel, just leave the country) has deliberately told me he does not want to make plans with me anymore, wants to do what he wants without telling me, and that he just wants to do more, more, more of those activities (all while defiantly looking at me on the eyes). Apparently he acted up with me in some kind of lie, and the type of life we’re living (pretty “normal” ) is not what he wanted. He’s disgusted by the concept of marriage, of “pertaining” to someone, etc etc. He even mentioned his interest in being polyamorous. And admitted he was on the lookout for other women, for connections. But: he says he loves me. ??? And willing to go to couple’s therapy. How can you say this, yet not being willing or have the desire to spend time with me. Elements to consider: I’m from out fo town, don’t have that many friends yet and work as a feeelancer from home. But I’m outgoing, go to cowoking spaces, have no trouble spending time by myself in the city. We have many common friends, whom we see together, go out, and i also see them separately at times. He attends to his obviously busier schedule, leaving ma at times a bit “alone” Let’s say that “going on a date” together never strikes his mind.
    I am torn in between “waking up” and telling myself (and him) “What the..!!? I’m outta here!!” or still believe in something could be worked out, leave him the space he desperately craves and needs right now and go to therapy together. I’m so flustered I have trouble connecting with my real feelings right now.

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