Tag Archives: manly hobbies

Passive Hobbies, Active Hobbies

Having a life outside the family and wife unit is critical for

A) Mental health of getting away and doing something for yourself

B) Establishing interests that will impact your life after kids leave the next

C) Feeling good about yourself and/or acquiring new skills

D) Creating a small amount of distance for yourself, tends to create a very small amount of tension which is often good for the relationship

I’ve seen and talked to many other dads.  Family men seem to sacrifice and contribute so much of themselves, often without appropriate recognition, for their family.  Coaching their kids’ sports leagues, hours spent at work, the new paradigm of the father who helps with housework, family vacations, yard work, weekends doing kids birthday parties, and so forth.  Because of this constant pressure to be a great dad, often the easiest things to cut or get pressured from the wife are hobbies or interests that we used to enjoy.  Used to love fishing, sorry, we’ve got my nephew’s birthday party.  Want to go throw some steel around the weight room, sorry, I’ve got that meeting scheduled in the afternoon and someone has to watch the kids.  Often these dads get pigeoned holed into this role so much they entirely lose themselves.  Subsequently, they lose the alpha-ness and interesting things they did that probably attracted the wife in the first place.

Having and fighting to have hobbies is important for the health of yourself and your family and marriage.  How can you introduce your kids to cool things if you don’t do any cool things yourself?  How will they learn by watching you, if all you do is place them or the family at the center and do entirely kid-centric activities?  I think having hobbies are what keeps life, the marriage and family activities interesting, gives you things to focus on that aren’t work or family related and gives depth and purpose to your life.

Now hobbies usually fall into two categories: passive or active.  Passive is one where you sit and let something happen to you, or is dictated by someone else’s contribution while active is one where you are actively participating in an activity.  Examples of passive hobbies would be going to shows or concerts, reading, watching movies, or playing video games.  Active hobbies would be working out, fishing, hunting, rebuilding a classic car, playing guitar, volunteering or taking an improv class.  One isn’t necessarily better than the other, but it’s good to have a few of both.

Passive hobbies tend to allow us to relax and either be entertained or gain some new knowledge or skills.  If you enjoy reading, you could be learning about investing, gardening, parenting, building a better marriage, or any number of topics.  Or you could be reading fiction to be entertained and feed the brain that is probably engaged in serious activities most days.  It’s good to unwind, but if this type of entertainment-oriented passive hobby is all you have, it’s relatively low value in compared to most active hobbies.

Active hobbies often get you out of the house and away from the family.  The absence makes the heart grow fonder certainly is a part of this, but so is not hang-dogging it around the house every weekend day, shadowing your kids or wife.  Having interests where you work with others towards common interests, or engage in obtaining new skills or improvements (guitar or working out) are nearly always a better option than sitting on the couch and watching sports.  This minor amount of tension created often tends to spur the other into being a better person as well and having a wider variety of tastes and interests.  They don’t always have to match up in marriage, but they are all like spices in life versus the bland existence that most suburban family men fall into.

The hobbies I have tend to wax or wane depending on things, but I usually have  a mix.  I’d like to increase the amount of time I spend on active hobbies as right now they’re mostly limited to lifting and exercising.  I had planned to take an improv class this summer, but the scheduling of the few in town didn’t work.  This fall I’m guessing this will be a good opportunity to try something new and  get out of my comfort zone a little.  Rolling BJJ and doing MMA is something I really enjoyed, but after much of the spring and summer being injured (including from said activities) I’m a little gun shy.

Finding time to do these things is often difficult and sometimes after a hard week you just want to relax and lose yourself.  Doing so is a good way to escape, but having a variety of activities will provide you with things to keep conversations interesting, provide you with some high-value compared to the normal family man, may assist in keeping your wife attracted to you and may give you some new skills to pass down to your children.  What you do isn’t important, but having a passion to do something is.  Don’t use your family as an excuse as to why you can’t do something.  Dust off that equipment or guitar or bow and just cut out time to do it.  You’ll enjoy the results.

Manly Hobbies, Risk Tolerance

Most of us understand that living life for ourselves is important.  As a man, this includes doing things that are unrelated to wife, kids, work and family and having hobbies or activities that improve us as men or feed into the masculine undercurrent that exists in our subconscious.  It’s no surprise that videogames such as Call of Duty and Elderscrolls Skyrim are so popular with men young and old.  They feed into the brain that you are battling and living a virtual life that feed neurological risk areas.  Scientific American did an article (not free)  on this and the impacts associated with it.  Other’s have discussed behavior changes from violent games, but that’s not where I’m going here.

I think men, by their very nature, have a need to engage in behaviors that are risky.  Since we aren’t hunting mastodons anymore, or engaging (typically) in hand to hand combat, the need to feel alive is met by other activities.  In some cases, they directly impact the improvement of ourselves, in others, they are just risky behavior that may be enjoyable.  We have a tendency to drive to fast, do dumb things (Darwin Awards are mostly men) and pick riskier hobbies.  I’ve done about five or six skydives, have driven way too fast for HOURS in my shitty beater car in college and even driven drunk (again, this occurred once or twice when I was about 21).

Since maturing, my risky behavior has dropped to considerably.  I still engage in bicycling, which is still somewhat risky since people drive like morons. My excitement fix comes in participating in regular semi-competition in Crossfit type environments and running races occasionally.  It’s sort of dumb, but nearly any “WOD” as they call it (workout of the day) be it in a group environment or just with myself, I still get a little nervous since we’re pushing boundaries and competing.  And the bigger area or regional competitions or races, you definitely feel the nerves.  It’s good for us to compete, and this particular hobby has a direct impact on how I look and feel.

What brought on this particular post though was a recent incident that occurred about 300 yards from my house.  We could hear the sirens of police, ambulance and fire all stop right around the corner from us.  Through the trees, we could make out the emergency responders dealing with some situation, though we didn’t know what.  It turns out that a motorcycle with a man driver and woman passenger didn’t make the corner into our residential development, jumped the curb and smashed up the block and brick entrance sign into our neighborhood.  From what I heard, the woman was somehow trapped under the bike and/or rubble and the firemen had to dislodge this before they could take her away in the ambulance.  I believe the man was taken away in a squad car, whether to go to the hospital or for driving drunk (that corner he crashed on is a low speed one, so unless he hit gravel he was either driving too fast or made a majorly poor decision).

I think having a motorcycle would be pretty awesome.  I’ve gone over 50 mph on some bicycle descents and it’s a fun time, would be even more fun going faster (on a motorcycle) I think.  Motorcycles still have some sort of bad-boy risky image though more middle aged guys are buying one since they have the dough and the desire to do something exciting.  Despite my desire to buy one, Holly has shut that down hard due to the risks involved, which I can appreciate.  An old saying in biking (be it pedal bike or motor-bike) is that it’s not a matter of IF you’ll crash, but when.  I’ve gone down on the bike a few different times, and since they weren’t vehicle collisions, the worst was a bent wheel, torn shorts and jersey and some road rash.  The speeds of a motorcycle make it much more likely injuries are going to be worse no matter if a vehicle is involved or not.  Even if you are safe, other drivers won’t be.

If I was a single guy, I would probably have a motorcycle at this point. The risk vs. reward would be probably be such that any ramifications wouldn’t have repercussions that would greatly impact others’ lives.  As a married dude with a couple of kids who are relying on me for so much, my risk tolerance (and my wife’s assessment of risk) has gone way down.  I’m even more cautious or cognisant of the risk involved with pedal biking now.  I can get my stress/fun fix through competitions and occasional controlled manly hobbies such as BJJ, shooting ranges and rare paintball excursions mimicking actual dangerous situations.  And really, while I think Holly may not exactly get tingles from my hobbies, I don’t really care.  I stay in good shape, bond with men through my hobbies and get away from the house creating just a little space that does carry over to our marriage.  More importantly, the risks are more tolerable for me and my family.