Help! We have nothing in common.

oppositesI hear that refrain a lot from unhappy couples. They bemoan their lack of common hobbies and interests. He likes watching sports. She likes reality TV. He enjoys go-cart racing. She prefers basket weaving. He likes to socialize. She likes to stay in.

Most people assume they must have things in common in order to be happy, but you really don’t. You need very little common ground to make a relationship work. All you really need to have in common are two things:

  • You both want your relationship to work.
  • You are both willing to make changes to continually improve your relationship.

That’s it. You don’t need to do every single thing together in order to be happy. You don’t need shared hobbies. You just need a good relationship, one that is based on mutual respect. The “we have nothing in common” complaint is really not a complaint about having things in common. Rather it’s a complaint about the overall state of the relationship, which usually isn’t good. Couples who complain about not having things in common usually have other problems: they are not communicating, they are not having sex, they are not romancing each other, and so on.

Once you fix the other issues, the issue of not having things in common usually evaporates. After all, if it were really an issue, it would be easy to solve. You’d just come up with something you both want to do together-perhaps learn a language, start a fitness regimen, or spice up your sex life-and you’d do it.

I know all of this because my husband and I are complete opposites, and we’re very happily married.

This wasn’t always the case. Just a few years ago, I was as miserable as any wife could possibly be, and I told anyone who would listen that my husband and I had “nothing in common,” as if having nothing in common was a disease that married people could catch.

But it wasn’t. We’re happy now, but the not having much in common hasn’t changed.

For instance, just yesterday he rode his motorcycle to Philadelphia to marshal a bike race. This is something I would never in a million years want to do. You could not pay me to do it. Not even a million dollars. My husband? He’d probably pay someone else for the privilege. For safety, he wore full riding gear that looks a lot like what firemen wear when they go into a burning building. Theoretically such protective gear would keep him from losing every inch of his skin were he to get in an accident, but it also serves as a great insulator. It was 85 degrees yesterday. He basically spent his day hunched over on his crotch rocket, riding in circles while wearing the equivalent of a down jumpsuit.

When he got home and took off his helmet, his hair was all matted together and his face looked like it had been exposed to an Everglades swamp for a few weeks. My parents happened to be visiting. My mother said, “He just rode that thing to and from Philadelphia?”

I said, “There are things I will never understand about my husband. Wanting to ride a motorcycle for 8 hours straight in the heat is one of them. That doesn’t mean I don’t love him.”

And it’s true.

There are many, many things I will never understand about my husband. I still wonder how anyone could want to spend so much time reading about cycling as he does, for instance. I also can’t, for the life of me, figure out exactly what he does with his portable GPS and why whatever it is that he does with it takes up so much of his time. He even tried to help me understand this. One night he asked me to sit next to him while he showed me the GPS readout from one of his bike rides.

“See that’s the route,” he said. “If I press this button here, see what happens!”

What was happening was that a little arrow was following a line around the mapped out route.

“Oh, interesting, “I said. What I really meant was, “Oh, I really don’t find that interesting.” But I didn’t say that because I thought it was incredibly sweet that he was trying to help me understand his hobby. I also like that he’s blessed with a sense of direction. I’m not. Getting lost is a way of life for me. Oh, and he knows how to light a charcoal grill. That’s something I don’t know how to do. In fact, I’m sort of scared of the grill, much as I was scared of Bunsen burners when I was in high school. He doesn’t mind killing bugs either. That’s a good thing because I hate bugs, and I also hate killing them because I hate the squishy stuff that comes out of them. He can also throw a baseball in a fairly straight line, something that my daughter will tell anyone I just can’t do. I’ve accidentally lobbed balls into her head I don’t know how many times.

I appreciate that my husband is not me. I’m very glad that he’s not me. If he were just like me, we’d only be able to eat grilled food at BBQ restaurants, our daughter would have a permanent concussion, our house would be overrun with bugs, and we’d be lost somewhere on the Interstate.

In the end, you really don’t need to adopt each other’s interests, and you really shouldn’t. It’s good to have a strong identity. It’s not good to lose yourself in your partner, only to, years later, realize that you have no idea who you are. If you are opposites who have nothing in common, stop worrying about it. Just focus on what’s most important: continually getting to know one another just a little bit better.

Do you think couples need things in common in order to be happy? Leave a comment.

188 comments… add one

  • Brooke August 7, 2014, 12:02 am

    I LOVED YOUR COMMENTS! I read it and it’s so true and really helped. Thank you so muchh, you’re lovely!

    • phil August 29, 2014, 4:30 pm

      I cannot see my previous comments

  • Amy August 16, 2014, 11:14 pm

    common interests what’s that ???
    Married 47 years and we have done nothing together except go our separate way every day. Since first married he hasn’t done any thing with me, we never talk, sleep together we even live on different levels of our house. He has lived all our marriage alone in our basement, he even built his own separate entrance. He won’t park his car in our garage next to mine, of courser he built a separate garage for himself. In our upper 60′s and life has pretty much topped out for us, there isn’t much more to do. I’ve lived with depression for all these years and made many payments on my shrink’s BMW. The husband just left him self go long straggly hair and beard and dresses in 60′s type clothes he probably picked up at the thrift store.

    • Cindy April 17, 2016, 9:56 am

      It sounds like you are already divorced-very sad. I am suit used you didn’t get out of your broken marriage years ago. I feel sorry for you that you haven’t had many loved-filled years. You didn’t mention if you had children, but if you did, you and your husband presented an unhealthy scenario of love for your children. It seems like you both gave up on your marriage, almost from the get-go. If you must stay in this situation due to income, I would suggest you find friends and activities where you can have social contact. I wish your situation was happier.

    • Sharin April 23, 2016, 8:47 pm

      This is the reality. This writer may be in a period where they think things are rosy and fine. The truth of the matter is that it helps GREATLY to have common interests. Something to talk about is why anyone bonds with anyone. It’s not rocket science to understand humans like talking and enjoying time with those who enjoy the same things. This is why you see a lot of folks divorce after around eight years. You’ve probably grown out of the thing a you both liked at that time. The biggest thing to realize is that there’s NOTHING wrong with that. What is the benefit of hating your spouse over something that occurs to everyone? People need to reevaluate how they view divorce and separation. There’s nothing wrong with moving on to others who share your older life views.

  • Juanita January 19, 2015, 5:48 am

    What was said would be true—-if the husband and wife weren’t forced to live away from family, friends, and home. Then, as soon as connections begin to be made with other people, forced to move again. So they always have each other, and they have nothing in common even though they’ve been to five counsellors together, the wife has been to one alone, the wife has a million hobbies & the husband has a job. But the wife continues to be lonely, and the husband continues to act like marriage is a pain. Yes, we’ve been through the love languages. How to be an awesome spouse. When Sorry isn’t Enough. Even Ephesians 4.

  • Nikki January 20, 2015, 2:50 pm

    Thanks so much this has helped me greatly. I was pretty worried when my partner started complaining about this.

  • mary January 25, 2015, 7:27 am

    You give me hope for my marriage! This is my husbands #1 complaint. This how I always respond… I was beginning to wonder if anybody else felt this way. Now to get him to read this ! ;)

  • anonymous March 9, 2015, 10:10 am

    Hi, your post is really good and I definitely think it’s true. I’ve been married for only 3 and a half months now and I’m already bored. I don’t find my husband very interesting, he has almost no hobbies or interests apart from religion (which I cannot talk about all the time, I’m sure most people would agree that religion is not the most interesting conversation topic). I, on the other hand, have quite a few hobbies and interests, none that I can get him interested in though. I love sports, board games of all different types, cooking, health and fitness, reading etc but I can’t even get him to watch a movie with me (he is strict in his religion so yeah) and he’s not interested in cartoons (which I am since I’m fairly young, but there’s not exactly a huge age gap between us as he’s 5 years older than me) I would love to go for walks in parks or something but the weather is quite cold at the moment and he absolutely hates the cold. He is also very busy as he is working and studying at the same time, so he doesn’t have a day off throughout the week. I feel like he’s not compromising in this relationship, and I’m sure it’s not normal for it to be like this so early in the marriage! Many a times I’ve asked him if he wouldn’t mind just wrapping up well so we can go for a short walk together, but to no avail. Also, I love having conversations with the people I’m close to, I’m sort of like a nerd so I enjoy talking about science, but I understand that’s not for everybody so I try to find out what he likes to talk about, but again, nothing apart from religion. I also enjoying talking about human behaviour and psychology but he seems to think I’m crazy in how deep I think. I wish I could just have a decent conversation with him but he is not very receptive, so even if I try to start a conversation with him, it ends very quickly since he doesn’t add much to it and I start to feel like I’m just talking to myself! I like vintage he likes modern, I like nature and landscapes, he likes tall buildings and cityscapes. The more I find out about him, the more different we seem and it just makes me feel more and more like we have absolutely nothing in common. I want him to give me his attention and to show that he’s very interested in me as a person, my likes and dislikes, hobbies and interests etc I’ve told him this straight up, but he just doesn’t seem to get it. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t even know what my favourite colour is. He has never even gotten me a gift apart from on our wedding day when he bought me a perfume, I don’t even like perfumes! I feel like he doesn’t truly love me even though he says he loves me (quite excessively in my opinion). Please help me, he’s a good person but I’m just not sure he loves me enough to be putting in the effort to make this relationship work. I try and do everything I can for him, but I feel like he’s doing nothing for me. I really want this relationship to work and I know I have to do my part, and I do believe I am. I’m not saying I’m perfect, but he says I am perfect. He says he loves me so much, but I fail to see his actions prove his statements. Any advice would be much appreciated.

    Thank you very much

    • Jodie March 25, 2015, 12:03 am

      A letter allows to to have your say and will get a response from him. Write down all your feelings, then google “how to write a love letter” for some tips, edit your notes to sweeten it up a little and put it in a letter format addressed to him. Print it out and hand it to him to read. I find talking to my hubby can seem hard because he never tells me how he feels or thinks about anything. I’ve been the one calling the shots all these years only to discover that he’s never liked the things we been doing, he just did them to avoid conflict. He never told me and we grew further apart. I wrote him a letter and now we are working on communicating better and spending time together in different ways.

    • Charlie April 13, 2015, 2:45 am

      So how is it now?

    • Adrain September 23, 2015, 2:05 am

      Anonymous… I find you very interesting as you and I both have almost everything in common and Almost the same interest and the same dilemma. Maybe our spouses should get together and leave us the hell alone. LOL!!! but on a real note, I’ve listen to Anthony Robbins audio seminars on relationship and he says when a relationship stops growing it starts dying. I find myself in that position where our relationship has stop growing along with her interest in life and her desire and passion to learn new things and become a better person. I know once our kids are grown i will be divorcing my wife. I Just turned 38yr in march 2015 and i have more ambition and desires to be more and give more. I know she is the anchor of the new life i truly desire. Don’t settle for less. Shake him loose and grow to your desires. Being a man, it is financially impossible for me to do this as women always get more money from the husband then they deserve. So i have to wait until my 4 yr old is 18yrs. You as a woman are in a better position to take full advantage to be better, grow and be more. don’t EVER settle for LESS; EVER!!!

      • Jay October 24, 2015, 10:54 am

        You mentioned having to wait until your four year-old is eighteen, to take action. How about considering the fact that the mother of your toddler needs a break. So do you. Get a relative or good babysitter at least twice a month. You arrange some time for you and your wife. Go for drinks or dinner. Go for a walk. Work on a common goal, such as collecting food for local pantry or binge-watch “Last Man on Earth.” Take your daughter out for ice cream and give your wife some “me time” and then arrange for time with your wife in the bathtub, scrubbing each other’s backs, etc….

      • Melanie November 3, 2015, 11:52 am

        That is really sad and unfair of you. You have already given up on your relationship but you are stringing your wife along for money. How despicable! Either work on fixing it or leave. How would you like to know she is just staying with you for money. What a nightmare. Be a man. Fix it. At least give it your best shot!

    • Hopeless April 4, 2016, 12:56 pm

      Things any better for you now Anonymous? It’s a year later. Exact same problem here.

  • Belle March 21, 2015, 10:31 am

    I am grateful for you advice and think it is true it is the relationship that is the problem not the hobbies, however, in my experience I find it hard to support his interests (airsoft, violent movies, Xbox games) when I hate his interests. This is like a double wammy. Each evening he wants to spend time doing things he loves, but knows I can’t be a part of, and he doesn’t want to spend this time with me. This makes me intensely lonely. All he wants to do is his hobbies and this shuts me out. It is hard to bridge the gap when they more interested in spending their time on their hobbies than on addressing their communication issues with you. How do I become more important than his hobbies? If we had hobbies in common I could spend all that time with him, to beat my loneliness, and enjoy a deeper connection in his life.

    • needadvicenow June 20, 2015, 1:15 pm

      I can relate to that as well! My “boyfriend/husband by common law” works all day from 6am to 4pm then goes to the gym from 4pm to 6pm, and then he’s off to school from 6pm to 9pm and then he gets home and spends hours in the kitchen eating and calling his mom and family to chat, and once all that Is done he hops right on his Xbox and plays games throughout the night. When I ask him to turn the games off he jumps right on his cell phone and watches YouTube videos of the same exact game he was playing. It was kind of funny at first but now it’s just aggravating. I used to like playing video games every minute of the day but I can’t do that anymore I let’s boring as hell. I just don’t know what to do either..

  • needadvicenow June 20, 2015, 1:03 pm

    So just to begin me and my boyfriend of 6 years have a son we have a lot in common but seems like there are more things that we don’t have in common. For example I would love to go on a nature adventure and just cuddle under the stars but he would rather go to an electronic dance carnival and I guess “dance” the night away. Personally I feel I am too conservative for that un top of that I am a MOTHER! What kind of mom goes to EDC? (EVEN THOUGH I’M 21) & since I don’t like to dress super slutty and dance all over the place , so if there are other girls that are half naked and in my personal space I would be a bit uncomfortable. I have explained to him but he just tells me that I should just dress slutty so I don’t feel left out? Also I have asked if we could do something that I like and then i would be happy to go to a EDC but he automatically says no. How can I just let him say no to every little thing I want to do, but in the end just give up and do something that I do not want to do? I have told him before if he wants to do stuff like that maybe he should have picked a girlfriend who likes to do stuff like that every weekend and then maybe he would get tired of it but who knows, maybe that would be the perfect girl for him?

    • Anji July 3, 2015, 8:21 pm

      You are not really conservative,You choose to become a mother with out the benefit of marriage which is a commitment made by two people who want to form a union. The union of marriage is suppose to be by two people who wish to share in each others lives and interests, hopes , dreams,hardships, and good fortunes You and your boyfriend just like different recreation entertainments and relaxations.
      That’s why you are suppose to date and find out about each others likes and dislikes and if you have enough in common to make a union. Dating is not fora couple to see if they can have sex together and enjoy it and make babies.It sounds like your boyfriend is not vested in the relationship enough to take an interest in what you like to do. Do you really need to be with some one who is only self centered? Do you want to raise a child with some one like that, and perpetuate the same kind of thinking in your child. Wearing slutty cloths does not make a slut, look at the way some ones actions. There is nothing wrong with going to dance all night or going camping to enjoy nature at any age.
      They are just different likes by two different individuals in your case.
      Honestly I am a lot older than you, but I like and enjoy both the activities, you described. I would engage in either activity at any age. Simply you need to find a person who has enough interest in you to share with you.

  • Mark June 28, 2015, 1:27 pm

    I think it helps if a couple have somethings in common. If a couple enjoys something in common it gives the something too talk about and time where they will be willing to spend together. I think it helps the relationship too be stronger

  • Mel July 3, 2015, 2:28 am

    Yes but how do you spend time together when you don’t have anything you both want to do? I hate the movies he likes and vise versa. The things I love and want to talk about are of no interest to him.

    • Hopeless April 4, 2016, 12:52 pm


  • Wanda August 12, 2015, 11:57 am

    I agree but I need some ideas of things we can do other than go out to eat that we CAN share together.

    • Melanie November 3, 2015, 12:00 pm

      Agreed! Otherwise we sit there trying to get closer but not even knowing what to talk about.

  • Adrian September 23, 2015, 2:24 am

    I’ve listen to Anthony Robbins audio seminars on relationship and he says when a relationship stops growing it starts dying. I find myself in that position where our relationship has stop growing along with her interest in life and her desire and passion to learn new things and become a better person. All she does is facebook and gossip with her mom and friends, the ones that are willing to listen. I know once our kids are grown i will be divorcing my wife, i just don’t want to do the “couple” thing anymore with her. I Just turned 38yr in march 2015 and have raised my standard in life and i have more ambition and desires to be more and give more. I know she is the anchor holding me back from getting the new life i truly desire and deserve. Don’t settle for less. Shake him loose and grow to the life you truly desires and deserve. Being a man, it will be financially impossible for me to do this because a women always get more money from the husband then they deserve. So i have to wait until my 4 yr old is 18yrs. You as a woman are in a better position to take full advantage to be better, grow and be more. don’t EVER settle for LESS; EVER!!! I wish i had asked the better questions when i was just dating her, maybe all this would have been avoided.

  • Married 10 Years September 29, 2015, 6:24 pm

    If I knew now, what I should have known then…I wouldn’t be married. When you have less and less in common over the years, and your husband doesn’t make any effort to connect with you…why be together (except for the child). I know there was a spark sometime ago, the question really is, why and when did it die.

    • Jay November 22, 2015, 2:14 pm

      Whether you are married ten months or ten years, don’t forget what attracted you to your spouse and vice versa. If you had hobbies and interests of your own when you were dating, you may want to pursue those or other interests apart from your spouses. If you are bored with your spouse, it may be you who is the boring one. I went through a stage where I felt like, “What has he done for me, lately.” I marinated in thoughts that turned me into an unattractive person. Then my brother mentioned how he would ride around the neighborhood to delay going home, because he was met at the door by his wife rattling off her needs and problems. Think about being the person you want to come home to. You don’t need to have common interests, but to show your spouse that you are interested in them can mean the world. For example: You don’t have to like video games to say, “You are good at those battles, I can see why you enjoy playing.” Maybe buy him an accessory or a new game. Also, do for him what you want for yourself. If you are requiring more attention, show him some with some praise for what he does right. Often, we forget our basic appreciation for our mate, and simultaneously put that person in charge of our feelings while thinking of them as a sloth who can do nothing right for us. We need to make our own joy, and treasure that person who promised to share their life with us. To expect him to know what is wrong is fruitless. He seems to be enjoying himself, but don’t throw him away. You two became a pair for a reason. Leave out complaints about what his interests are and be the girlfriend you know you can be. Vent your feelings to a close girlfriend or two, but respect you and your husband’s most private information. Be consistent and consider a journal for yourself. Reflect on how your current behavior can be transformed. Guys will are not girls. Talk plainly to your man without too much emotion. Give him an errand or something to fix. Then, show gratitude. Daily. Even if it feels weird for you, at first, show him gratitude without expectations.

  • ExcellenceD November 3, 2015, 9:51 am

    I totally agree with every statement! Me husband and I have nothing in common but sports and a great bedroom life, but we love each other very much and find interest in each other’s interests.. We stay in our own lane and it keeps out relationship interesting and fun! Great blog!

  • Jsponger January 3, 2016, 2:27 am

    It would be helpful if Alisa replied on the negative comments, just because of the 176 comments, I only see 24 here and they aren’t helping me in the way that your blog started to help me.

    As you write in this entry, I have found that when I seek out the things that my husband does well that I don’t, and compliment him daily on something, it makes me more of a positive person. I have come to realize that the negativity is what eats away at our marriage.

    Having identified that we both share a need for quality time and physical touch as expressions of love, sometimes that can mean him watching soccer and me reading a book on the couch, but touching and smiling at each other every now and then, acknowledging that we are together yet content to do distinctly different things. I make an effort in those moments to consider one feature about him that I like to look at, or something he did that day that makes me smile.

    For quality time, it may mean cooking together, one of us helping the other do something, going for a walk. Rarely is it a sit down discussion, though many women think that is what quality time is supposed to be. I’m a more “go out to have fun” person and he likes to stay at home, so our compromise was to have a couple people over to the house that we might later go out with, but also for me to deepen friendships with other people for the event-going. I am shifting from “why this marriage will never last” to “what can make it great?”

    It’s not perfect. I hesitate to start a family with my husband – encouraged by the “get out now if you’re not happy” advice givers in my life who remind me of the child aspect (see “Adrian” commenting multiple times, above) – but we want marriage to work. Sometimes, it’s convincing myself that I want OUR marriage to work, more than just the idea of marriage.

  • Jay tom March 23, 2016, 11:33 pm

    I was researching this looking for insight into my own relationship. My girlfriend is awesome and there are many things I love about her but I feel like im I little turned off nearly everytime she speaks. We disagree on so much it’s odd we get along at all. It’s starting to bug me more and more and I’m not sure what to do.

  • Katherine April 13, 2016, 10:00 pm

    I have been in a relationship for almost three years now and am starting to see where our relationship is starting to crumble. He is the silent type, I tend to say what I think, he is antisocial and I enjoy going out with friends, he would rather ignore an issue until it goes away or fixes itself and I would rather face it and move on. He is independently successful and I’m still in college so I’m still on the broke side of the spectrum. I work forty hours a week as well as a full college schedule and doing housework, and maintaining a healthy sex life. I’m exhausted but I still try to make him feel loved and appreciated and even though I know he is a more action based person I just wish he would express weather he wants me around or not. And I know he feels unnappreciated and I need to work on that, but is there any way this is going to work? I’m starting to question.

    • Robert Erekson July 2, 2016, 7:12 pm

      Relationships are one of the most difficult things we face in life. Often there are those that just get it and the rest of us don’t i’m not saying your one of those people. but my point is your only young once you should never have to convince yourself of anything just believe or don’t. Once you have doubt and you let it grow inside of you it can be hard to come back from. Just look inside and do ultimately what would make you the happiest.

      / There are over a billion eligible people that might be for you but only you can make you happy \

    • Hopeless July 3, 2016, 1:41 pm

      As someone unhappily married, I would strongly advise you to give it all some thought before it’s too late. My problem is my husband basically pretended to be one thing the whole time we were dating and then became someone else completely after we got married. It was crazy. I didn’t find out how much we have absolutely nothing in common, including our worldview till it was just too late. You are seeing all of these things now and you’re obviously unhappy or you wouldn’t be here in the first place. It is your decision in the end but I would certainly consider everything carefully.

  • Robert Erekson July 2, 2016, 7:00 pm

    I bet that you don’t have children or they are much older. My problem is that i need a partner in the activities to help with the children its impossible to do by myself and without her support. Not to mention its more difficult to spend time with her.

  • Ross July 15, 2016, 3:56 am

    My wife and I have been married for a year. We do not have sex any more, we do not kiss, do not even cuddle, let alone say we love each other. We are not different, we are complete opposites. I hate the place we live in and the people we are surrounded by. She wouldn’t listen to even a delicate hint at moving somewhere else. We never do anything together. I am always alone. Our beliefs about life are practically incompatible. She stands for everything that I deem wrong and vice versa. Our goals, ambitions and dreams point to opposite directions. When I talk about mine, she ignores me, or just responds with a courteous smile and goes on to talk about something else. If I get too insistent, she tells me that what I want from life is not attainable. The only thing we do together is go to the local grocery and shop for food. We share the rent and that’s about it. We show respect for each other. We rarely, if ever, quarrel. In my job I often meet women wanting the same thing from life as me, women who pursue the same goals and have the same dreams. I secretly entertain a romantic longing for them. They throw me into wild raptures and make me want to elope with them. Then I go home and spend the evening on my own in a separate room from my wife.
    I’ve been telling myself that this might not be such a problem after all. People are different and we cannot expect them to adapt to our personality and mindset. However, I have never felt so lonely and desperate. Every day I wake up to the thought that my dreams will never be fulfilled unless we get divorced. When I attempt to converse with her about that, she starts crying and complains that I am ungrateful despite everything she has done for me. When she shows presence of mind and does not burst into tears, she just flatly denies the veracity of what I say. The problem is that I am acutely aware of my permanent feeling of emptiness, disappointment and dejection. So I firmly believe that common interests are an indispensable prerequiste for spouses being together.

  • Diane Gorba August 21, 2016, 10:48 am

    Me and my husband had been married for 45yrs , hes been fine for about 40 of them but the last 5 , he seams to want to be young again out at bars , hanging with 20, 30 ,40 ,year olds never invites me , that’s what I have the problem with, I feel like roudolf the red nose reindeer , we used to go every where together , any longer and I’m about to give up , because of this I no longer have sex with him , I don’t cook for him , and I don’t touch him ,he don’t touch either I guess it’s just over , but why wait 45 yrs?


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