Why Your Wife Dislikes Your Hobbies

It feels like a slap in the face when you choose to spend time on hobbies than with your wife.

Man golfing and woman looking upset PeopleImages.com - Yuri A | Daxiao Productions | Shutterstock

Many men are scared to do anything outside of work and home/childcare obligations because they are anxious about their wives’ disapproval. For those more preoccupied attachment men, I have written this, encouraging them to have a life outside of the family, in order to be a healthy individual and a good role model for the kids of a happy and balanced adult.

However, there are also men on the other end of the spectrum, who are more avoidant attachment, and who prioritize hobbies over their marriage. This post is to help these men understand why their wives are not supportive of their hobbies, even though they always encourage her to get a hobby herself (here’s why to stop doing this, by the way).


When a husband is an avoidant partner and his wife is more preoccupied — which is much more common than the inverse pairing — the wife is the emotional pursuer in the relationship. That dynamic looks like this or this.

Incidentally, if you don’t think that the woman being more preoccupied than the man is more common, remember that the men who post about their relationships in forums are by definition the preoccupied attachment partners because they are invested in the relationship enough to post about it. This is why if you only knew about humans from the internet, you would think that there were equal amounts of preoccupied men and women.


Avoidant attachment men are those who learned in childhood to be self-sufficient, because their emotional needs were not met, and their caregivers were not really capable of comfort. Listen to more about this attachment style in men here. These men are drawn to more preoccupied attachment women, who are very anxious about the relationship, fixate on it, and are always trying to get more reassurance. These women were raised by caregivers who were warm but inconsistent, so they knew that love was possible but couldn’t access it when they needed it. (Read more about the attachment here.)

RELATED: How The 4 Attachment Styles Affect Relationships — And How To Know Which Is Yours

When a woman is constantly asking her husband for more time and more connection, it feels like a slap in the face that he chooses to spend time on hobbies instead of with her.

She also gets upset if he picks hobbies over spending time with the kids when children come into the picture, although often this guy will be an excellent dad but use "couple time" as the time for hobbies. She feels unimportant and like the lowest priority to him, and often feels that the only time he wants to connect is for sex. (In a vicious cycle, she may then stop having sex with him because she feels so hurt, and if this is truly his way to connect, this leaves them with nothing.)

This is the classic couple with the woman complaining that the man isn’t romantic, doesn’t plan dates, and may not even have proposed. These women deeply yearn for a man who would "do anything for them," and instead they have a man who will only put his hobbies on the calendar, never something for the two of them to do together. This is the core reason that she resents his hobbies. She only sees him excited about spending time doing his hobbies and never sees him excited about spending time with her.


Not only preoccupied attachment women dislike their husbands’ hobbies, though.

Secure or avoidant women will also dislike anything that makes the man act more arrogant. I discuss this in the podcast episode "When Working Out More And Acting More Confident Actually Gets You Laid Less." If the man’s hobby involves anything that makes him act obsessive or self-centered, spend a lot of money on himself, or act like he is a know-it-all, then this type of behavior is unattractive to any woman.

Generally, the more self-obsessed a man acts, the less a woman wants to jump on the bandwagon of acting like he’s great. Instead, she often finds herself countering his self-obsession by pointing out his flaws, which of course is not a healthy marital dynamic.

RELATED: 5 Unusual Hobbies Couples Can Start Together — And Grow Their Love For A Lifetime


A final reason that couples struggle over this issue is that the man is minimizing how much time he is leaving his wife alone with young kids due to his hobby.

As I discuss constantly (here’s one example), the young mother stage is very difficult for women. Postpartum depression and anxiety are underdiagnosed, and pregnancy/nursing/raising tiny children is both mentally and physically demanding.

Leaving to golf for the whole day, even if your wife’s mom lives close by (an excuse I hear often, which is complex), means that she is "on" with the kids while you are fully relaxing. The stress of being alone with small kids is overwhelming for many women, but they feel like bad moms if they say this, so they will yell at their husbands for "not prioritizing the family" when they really mean "I am scared of the kids."

When I work with couples in counseling who struggle with this issue, the first step is to figure out why the wife is responding poorly to the man’s hobbies.

Generally, it is either that she is jealous of his prioritization of the hobby because she feels he is always avoiding time with her, or that he is acting more self-centered (including leaving her with the kids constantly) due to the hobby. And of course, sometimes she is overwhelmed and stressed, and the time he spends engaged in the hobby is terrifying to her because she is too depressed, anxious or overwhelmed to manage the kids alone during the time he spends away.


Often, the plan of attack is to help the couple spend more quality time together and coach them to create a life where the couple unit is the main priority, and all other aspects are prioritized beneath this core unit. This can be as simple as the man understanding that of course, she feels resentful about weekly golfing if he never puts a weekly date night on the calendar. When he empathizes with her feelings and begins to proactively plan time with her, her resentment about the hobby recedes.

In other cases, the man needs to shift his perspective and see that kids are only young once, and his wife needs his physical presence a lot more with a baby or toddler than she will as the children age. It is healthy and normal for hobbies to take a back seat during the trenches of new parenthood or the transition to multiple kids. It is also healthy and normal for family time to be a central priority while kids are young.

Empathy with his wife’s overwhelm is also an integral piece of moving forward. If the man understands how difficult his wife finds it to parent the kids alone, he may also bring the kids along to his hobby (e.g. running with a jogging stroller or teaching older kids how to play golf).

RELATED: Why Your Spouse Should Be Your First Priority (Even If You Don't Feel Like Theirs)


And if his wife is truly struggling with undiagnosed depression or anxiety, this can be discussed openly in therapy and she can be encouraged to seek individual treatment.

It is not normal to be terrified of time alone with your kids, and this may point to a larger issue, often depression/anxiety or unresolved childhood trauma, as discussed here. The couple may also decide that more childcare help is necessary at this stage, not just so he can pursue hobbies, but so that the wife doesn’t feel constant dread and then parent in unhealthy ways.

This would be a great post to discuss with your spouse if you find yourselves in this dynamic, where the man’s hobbies have become the central issue that you fight about. If that feels too stressful, then couples counseling can help provide a safe and objective space where a therapist can help guide you to discuss this issue and come up with solutions to it, both from an empathy perspective and a pragmatic perspective.


Remember, husbands reading this, this is not only an issue of buying more childcare! Read more about that idea here. That may end up being one part of the solution, but the empathy piece will have to come first. 

RELATED: Single People Reveal The 'Red Flag' Hobbies They Avoid When Dating

Dr. Samantha Rodman Whiten, aka Dr. Psych Mom, is a clinical psychologist in private practice and the founder of DrPsychMom. She works with adults and couples in her group practice Best Life Behavioral Health.