It’s no secret that we’re a family of geeks. Aaron and I met many years ago when performing at the Ohio Renaissance Festival. At our wedding, the music we used for the entrance to our reception was the Throne Room music from Star Wars. Aaron still reads comics. A lot. We love Doctor Who and several other sci-fi dramas. Our daughters have dressed up as superheroes more than once and can recognize many of the great figures in nerddom.
You get the point.
Lately, my darling husband has developed a new hobby: superhero costuming. As in, he is making costumes so he can dress up like superheroes at sci-fi or comic conventions.
I said we were a geeky family, folks. You’re suddenly viewing us in a WHOLE new light now, aren’t you?
When I say hobby, what I really mean is obsession. For the past six months, this subject has consumed him more than any other. He’s spent much of his free time on costuming websites, message boards, and now Facebook groups. His Facebook friends have grown dramatically, and suddenly his friends list contains more strangers to me than people I know. He’s even working to form a local chapter of a non-profit group that sends out members dressed as superheros to visit sick kids in hospitals, participate in charity events, etc.
There are some upsides. His costumes look very good, and it’s motivated him to work out more to look good in them, too. Spandex is unforgiving. He gets lots of praise and attention for the costumes, which I’m sure is a self-esteem boost. Choosing to do charity events to bring a smile to sick kids makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside and love him even more for his generous heart.
So what in the world am I getting at in this post?
As geeky as we are as a family, this costuming thing is driving me nuts.
I fully supported him when he started it. He’s always been a comic fan, so it was a natural extension of his interests. But as it developed into an obsession, well, I’ve felt left behind. As he sits on the couch each night, his eyes are glued to message board and his costuming Facebook groups. His Facebook page is almost entirely about costuming now.
When he’s working on a new costume, he’s consumed with wanting to get it done and anything that gets in the way leaves him grumpy and irritable. And then there are the women who are really into costuming, too, who get a little too touchy, close or clingy with him at conventions. I try not to get jealous, however I’d be lying if I didn’t admit it puts a stress on our relationship.
But there’s also this: he wants me to join in and dress up with him.
Many years ago, I used to design and make costumes. I used much of my graduation money from college to purchase a very fancy computerized sewing machine that can do everything except make you coffee and sew the damn thing for you. I made renaissance costumes for friends and for myself. I was good enough that people even bough some from me. At one time I was working on a Master’s degree in costume design.
(Another surprise for you? Yeah, this onion has LOTS of layers. It’s like you never knew me, right? And hey, I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up!)
After having kids, though, sewing dropped off the radar. It was a hobby I no longer had time for and since we no longer performed at the renaissance festival, there wasn’t a need to make new costumes. Work and a screaming, colicky baby who turned into a grumpy, tantrum-prone toddler kept me away from scissors, needles and thread. Probably good to keep me away from pointy things, considering my mood at the time.
I haven’t used that fancy sewing machine in six years. So when Aaron asked me to help in making his costumes, I resisted due to forgetting many skills. Also: I’m busy. Work, kids, getting this house decluttered – when do I have time for sewing?
But asking me to dress up, too? I’m just not sure what to do. I know he really, really wants me to do it. He thinks it would be a fun hobby to do together (he’d love to get the kids dressed up, too) and continually suggests characters I could become. He’s even enlisted the help of his Facebook friends to brainstorm ideas for me of characters I’ve never even heard of.
I feel pressured, though. I’m not nearly as into this idea as him, and I’m already annoyed at how much time (and money) he sinks into it. As it is, we have so many other things that need to get done first that I don’t have time to think about hobbies. And I don’t want to spend all of my free time going to conventions in costumes – I want us to do a lot of different activities as a family. Maybe even see the sunshine once in awhile. I also am a little more shy and don’t necessarily like everyone looking at me.
We’ve discussed the issue already, and Aaron concedes he’s been a little obsessed and needs to cut back on his hobby. It can’t take up all of his spare time, and beyond hobbies there are still a lot more responsibilities we need to devote more time to as well. He’s agreed to cut back and try to give more focus to the home and other family activities.
But he’d still like me to join him when he does dress up. I don’t know what to do at this point. My irrational mind worries that if I don’t meet him halfway and participate that he’ll continue down that path without me and eventually we’ll be two people with drastically different interests who have nothing in common. (Can I follow an idea to the dramatic, extreme end or what?)
I’m not against the idea…I’m just not excited about it, probably because I already resent how much time and energy this hobby has absorbed. I’m not going to ask him to stop entirely, either – that’s just silly, and I do support the charity work he wants to do with it. There just needs to be balance. And boundaries.
I don’t know if participating only to support my husband and his interests would possibly lead to having a lot of fun in the process, or if my lack of passion would only make me resent it?
They don’t cover these kinds of issues in the imaginary marriage handbook. If your spouse has a hobby he’s passionate about and wants you to get involved so you can share it together, do you go along with it even if you’re not as interested? What do you think?