When you’ve been married more than a few years, you’ve earned the gift of perspective—being able to look back and see how you’ve changed or grown.

When my husband and I first got married, he loved to talk to me about things I did not care about. Honestly, I often found my mind wandering when he’d talk about how much horsepower certain cars had, how a new video game was so awesome, or his thoughts on politics. I also didn’t understand why he felt frustrated by clutter around our house.

Now, sixteen years later, I know quite a bit about the cars he likes, the video games he enjoys, and we have political discussion quite often. I try to keep our house tidy and minimize clutter and messes because that’s important to him.

In turn, he sits with me to watch historical British television or baking shows that I enjoy. He also asks me about books I’m reading, even though he’s not a reader.

How did we get here? We learned, through trial and error, how it’s important to care about what our spouse cares about. There are many reasons why, but here are just a few:

  • It Helps Us Understand Our Spouse: Listening to these things my husband cares about helps me get into his head, to learn about his passions and have conversations with him beyond parenting and household maintenance. Even though we may not share the same passion for these things as our spouse, we can listen and learn from each other.
  • It Helps Us Support Our Spouse: My husband doesn’t share my interests of reading or writing, but he supports me in these things. He’s gone to the office late at night to print copies of my book proposal so I could take them to a conference. He encourages me in my endeavors and that makes me feel loved and cared for.
  • It Helps Us Protect Our Marriage: If our spouse isn’t willing to listen to what we have to say about things that are important to us, big or small, they might be tempted to find someone else who will. Most affairs begin slowly and over time as an emotional connection a spouse finds with someone who is willing to listen or be there in a way their spouse isn’t. Let’s always try to be a listening ear to our spouse, even if it’s about horsepower or housecleaning, because it protects our marriage.

Caring about what your spouse cares about doesn’t mean you won’t or shouldn’t have interests of your own that are different. You should! Share your interests with your spouse and let them understand more about you. My husband and I each have a different show that we watch alone. We watch them and then tell each other all about what happened. It’s a fun weekly practice we have that allows us to bond even though we’re not watching the same thing.

Caring about what our spouse cares about doesn’t always come easy. It means we have to put them above ourselves. It means we have to get out of our comfort zone to listen and care about something we’re not interested in. We won’t always get this right, but the more we make it a priority, the stronger our marriage will become. We’ll be able to look back years later and see how it’s made a difference.