Sharing Interests

Wintery Knight posted something from William Lane Craig along with his own advice. I’d suggest reading it, most of the advice given is good common-sense, but I do wonder about this:

I strongly urge those of you who are single to make having a shared interest in your field of study and ministry a top criterion in selecting a spouse. It doesn’t matter how beautiful she is or what a great cook she is if she has no interest in your field of study and so sees talking about things that you are passionate about as an annoyance.

Shared interests in marriage has always been one of those things that people seem to value highly that I don’t understand. I don’t see a need for a wife to share your interests, whatever they may be. I do understand that one or two shared activities, something like dancing, that you can do together on date nights is probably beneficial, but for something like philosophy: what use would there be in discussing philosophy with your wife? Why would that be even remotely necessary?

As you can probably tell by the hundreds of thousands of words I’ve written on my blog and the thousands of articles I’ve linked to in my Lightning Rounds, I have a strong interest in socio-political theory and have a moderate interest in philosophy, theology, economics, history, etc., but I would never expect my wife to have to have an interest in this or for her to become my regular politics discussion partner.

That’s what I have friends for.

Would it be nice to have a wife who liked socio-political theory? Sure. It would also be nice to have a wife who liked ultimate, board games, science fiction, video games, and anime (as for shooting, hunting, and martial arts, see here) but these can be nice little bonuses. These are not things a wife is needed for and I don’t see the point in making them requirements.

I think this shared interests thing comes from the modern phenomenon of making your wife your friend. A century ago, most men would have thought the idea of discussing politics, theology, or philosophy with your wife was absurd; those discussions were what you did with your friends at the pub. Your wife was the one who dragged you home when you were too sloshed too distinguish between monarchy and anarchy.

But the pubs are now co-ed, men’s clubs have been destroyed, and male friendship has been destroyed. Men no longer have easy ways to find someone to trade bullshit about politics and philosophy with.

At some point in the last century, male friendship began to die, so well-meaning people looking to fill the bleeding wound in their chest its absence caused confused the categories of wife and friend. A husband-wife relationship is not a friendship, it is a unique form of companionship centred around the creation and care of a home and family. Neither relationship is better, they are simply different.

A wife can not be your lover, your friend, your confidante, your parenting-partner, your home-building partner, your BS-ing partner, your debate opponent, your drinking buddy, your complaint outlet, and your dance partner all at once. That is simply too much load to put onto a single relationship. A man needs male friends to fulfill many of these needs.

I’m pretty sure that expecting too much from a single partner is one of the great contributors to the breakdown of modern marriage.

Build a home with your wife and make her your lover, save philosophical diatribes for your friends.


Another, difference with WK I want to comment comes from this:

And it also allows you to lead a woman so that she can develop herself to be ready for marriage to you. I hope that she would already have done a lot of the work by herself, (chastity, STEM degree, debt-free, good job, apologetics, conservative politics), before she even meets you.

Earlier WK writes about the male’s role as provider, but here he he puts down a STEM degree and a good job as developing herself for marriage, but if the man is meant to be the provider of what use are the degree and the job in a potential wife? Is a career-oriented women the kind of woman at traditional Christian wants raising his children? I think there’s too much focus on what a women studies and works at in the Christian community.

That being said, a degree is a basic signalling mechanism of low time-preference, so if dating any woman without a degree, ensure it’s not because she has high time preference and verify a low time preference in another way. But other than signalling why does it particularly matter what kind of degree she has or if she has a job. I’d much prefer a woman who had spent that time developing her home-making abilities and volunteering at the church than studying and working.

I can understand not wanting a wife who wasted a decade doing nothing, but then the question becomes why would a traditional man consider marriage to a 30-year-old woman?


We’ll look at the advice-seeker, named Wesley, who illustrates my point nicely.

I recently got married this past summer to an amazing woman I met at a one year bible college I attended a couple years ago and it has been great. But between transferring to a new (secular) school and being constantly busy with school and work I feel like my relationship with God is constantly on the backburner, as I am not getting into the word nearly as much as I used to and my prayer life is nearly nonexistent, and because of this my relationship with my wife is not where it should be either.

I love my major and I love my wife, but they don’t seem to overlap very well, as my studies are normally more time intensive than hers and also she see’s my talking about it more as an annoyance than anything. I guess why I am writing you is because I am getting so spiritually burnt out and need advice on how to ignite/maintain my relationship with God and keep a healthy relationship with my wife and if having an aspiration of being an apologist is worth it. Not only does everyone else not see why I have picked the path I have because they see philosophy as impractical and I won’t be able to support a family with such an aspiration, but the path itself is difficult as I do not have many other fellow Christians in my classes and so I am being practically scorned in all directions. I often ask myself if it is worth it and if I should find some other path that would be more conducive to married life and family life that her and I hope to start in the foreseen future.

It’s very clear here, Wesley’s problem is not his wife. His problem is he doesn’t have virtuous friendships with male friends and is trying to use his wife to fill this hole in his life. But his is his wife, not his friend and she can’t fill this hole, and he shouldn’t be expecting her to.

So, Wesley, if by happenstance you come across this, your wife is not your friend, she is your wife. Don’t discuss philosophy her, take her dancing instead and lead her in Bible readings. Instead of trying to force her into a role in which she does not belong, find a good male friend or two who share your Christian values and discuss philosophy with them over a pint at the pub.


I should make one last note, there’s a difference between a wife not sharing your interests and a wife deriding your interests. A wife not sharing your interests is fine; a wife who disdains your interests (and not in the harmless ‘men will be men‘ way), and by extension you, is not. Do not marry a women who contempt for those things you really like and enjoy.

I get the impression that Wesley’s problem was the first, but if it was the latter, then that is a something to be concerned about.

Also, values are not interests. Sharing values is important. Don’t marry a woman who doesn’t share your core values.


  1. Getting her to do the STEM degree and put in a few years of work is just to allow her to have the knowledge and experience to raise kids who will be effective and influential. I think she can be more supportive in helping the kids with school and career path if she has a firsthand experience of doing it on her own. Also, I think the hard work is good for her character. It’s good for men, too!

  2. What I mean is – I would expect her to stay home and parent the children from birth to at least age 5, more if possible. She would not be working then – the kids are more important than the money.

  3. I strongly agree with everything in this post. “Sharing my interests” has never been part of the criteria I use when evaluating the suitability of potential partners.

    My initial, implicit criterion is that she be physically attractive, for otherwise I would not be considering her as a potential wife.

    Second is that she be pious, by which I mean that she considers Church and the Christian religion to be the most important thing in her life.

    Third is that she come from a good family; that her parents and siblings aren’t strange.

    Added bonuses would be if she already held traditionalist opinions (if she is pious I am confident that traditionalism will come with a traditionalist husband); or if she shared my tastes in art.

  4. Lots of wise words here.

    Neon, you just described my wife. We have very few shared *interests*, but many shared *values*. Her skills and mine overlap in very few places. Strangely enough, our interests have become more and more intermingled over the years, to the point where we .

    She understands that my passions (such as blogging and writing) do not have to make sense to her, and I accept her abilities (such as counseling and wisdom) as gifts.

  5. I don’t understand a desire for shared academic interests either. I would like to have intelligent conversations with my wife on occasion, but I too don’t want a debate sparing partner for a spouse. If anything, it might be at least a small plus if they were interested in a different academic subject, especially if homeschooling the children is a possibility. Shared interests in activities is a whole different matter, not only for date night, but also family vacations and the like. Imagine the conflict and resentment that can buildup if you can’t both be excited about a planned vacation. Heck, that conflict will start before you even get married if you go on a traditional honeymoon.

    BTW, I too loathe the demise of Aristotelian friendships. When I read about Aristotle’s ideas on friendship and its importance for the polis, I was pretty shocked to think for how many friends I had, I had very few friends.

    Also, values are not interests. Sharing values is important. Don’t marry a woman who doesn’t share your core values.

    One thing I will say on this, is that I do think it implies a level of seriousness about theology for a Christian, which implies some level of interest. You might want to write the next 10 volume systematic theology, and she might not be quite so interested so as to even read every one of your ground-breaking studies, but reading the Bible and exploring the depths of theology together is a good common goal. Family life should be centered on this anyway, so it makes sense if this is already central to her “interests” as well.

  6. I’ve actually been thinking a lot about this. We have this emphasis on compatibility which meant something entirely different about 200+ years ago when you consider arranged marriages.

    Your girlfriend and hopeful future spouse should be her own unique person. Why would you marry or want to marry someone who is so similar to you? It’s like marrying yourself.

    You are right in that having actual male friends would provide the place for people with shared interests as well as iron sharpening iron. If only one could find a pub where people were interested in meaningful dialogue and discourse instead of trying to shout over loud hip-hop music and owners who want you to drink and get out.

    Currently I’ve been theorizing that that the physical “I strongly desire you” builds the initial glue and the “compatibility” will form over time. Obviously pre-marital sex consistently is wrong in God eyes, but I personally am in my own moment of rebellion which feels really good.

    (I don’t think I would consider myself a practicing Christian right now, but I was raised in the Church all of my life and I retain essentially every element of a Christian worldview – particularly that of a presuppositional reformed worldview. )

    “I’d much prefer a woman who had spent that time developing her home-making abilities and volunteering at the church than studying and working.”

    Me too.

  7. My default setting on this shared interest is….

    What kind of man has a lot of shared interests with women? I can only assume it’s one who doesn’t score highly in traditional masculine pursuits. Personally, I have all the masculine stuff covered. She needs to cover the feminine stuff.

  8. Free Northerner: ss someone who has been married for 20+ years, and whose wife homeschools the young ‘uns, I endorse your post.

    Check out Wintery Knight’s courting questions. I mean, he expects her to be able to explain the “is-ought fallacy.” Lolz. It’s a test for a prospective employee in his aplogetics ministry (and it’s a good list for that, to be sure). Even the questions about marriage and children come across as a cold-blooded interrogation.

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