My husband is a writer. We've been married for several years and I've seen him go through various phases of book-obsession over various aspects of his new book ideas and the worlds that he's creating.

I'm not a writer, but I do like to support him and listen to his ideas. However, sometimes he gets really obsessed and dominates the conversation with his idea and it just takes over everything in our lives. This can be really draining for me because I'm not into it like he is.

I want to be a good partner for him, but I also want to help him understand that this is his thing and I don't want to talk about his books all day every day.

How can I be a good supportive partner for him while also helping him to find balance where writing isn't taking over absolutely everything?

  • I think this is on topic? It's either here or interpersonal and I figured that asking a writer-specific audience would be more helpful. Also I searched in the meta and couldn't find anything addressing this kind of question, so I thought I'd give it a shot and hope you'd be nice :)
    – stanri
    Mar 5 '21 at 12:52
  • Also I'm a woman just in case anyone was confused over the name.
    – stanri
    Mar 5 '21 at 12:53
  • 2
    I’m voting to close this question because it seems heavily like an interpersonal question. If you rephrased the question to: reasons why you shouldn't obsess about writing (or something like that) it could be left open but currently, this is off-topic.
    – Nai45
    Mar 5 '21 at 15:01
  • 4
    I’m voting to close this question because it is a relationship question and I do not know if we have a site for that matter.
    – hszmv
    Mar 5 '21 at 15:47
  • @Nai45, thanks. I'll ask on interpersonal instead.
    – stanri
    Mar 5 '21 at 17:25

The Elephant in the Room:

I am very sympathetic to you - not because I have a writer spouse, but because given the chance, I'd be obsessing about my latest work and talking about it constantly. Is your husband Asperger-ish? If so, this is a common issue.

I think your spouse likely cares for you and appreciates your support. BUT an obsession is something that grows to fit the size of the room it's in. Rather than allowing it to dominate everything, you probably need to set some serious guidelines about then writing can and can't be discussed. I'd select a specific hour(s?) during which you talk about his work. Outside that time, it's verboten. But give him at least SOME time for the writing. It is his passion, and he wants to share it with you.

Writing as work has no set hours. So it's up to the two of you to make rules. It's HIS work, and you can support him by letting him have time to work on it, but then designate time when work is forbidden - date time, if you like, or relationship time. Dinner is a good time, unless he loves talking about his book while eating (if so, then the rule should be he can talk but you're not required to respond). Regardless, there needs to be set time when the book is off the table. Before bed is another good time, and can help with sleep.

It's okay for you to NOT love his work. If you don't care for it, be upfront that your feelings for him are not your feelings for the book. If he can't accept that you may not be passionate about it, then he's got more serious issues. Use the beta reader justification if you need to - if you let yourself get too involved with the book as a reflection of him, you can't give useful criticism when something comes off flat. So maintain as much space as you need for your sanity, and justify it as impartiality. Unless you're prepared to go all the way down the rabbit hole with him, keep yourself as you. He loves you more than the books, and will accept it from a place of love.

  • PS I think this will get closed, but if the site isn't for helping writers, then I'm not sure what the point is.

I will say this is off topic in that "my husband has an interested I don't share" is not an issue for writers... You could sub in football or video games or horror movies or knitting and still have the same problem. You're husband has a hobby that's dominating your conversation with him. Both my live in boyfriend and I like to write, and we have this problem with other hobbies in our life (For example, in our relationship, I am Mulder to his Scully. I like my stories of real life unexplained events... he's quite skeptical and dismissive of even the possibility. Even when we like the same shows, I tend to go for elements that move the overarching story forward, while he prefers the more comedic parts of the show.)

This is a relationship problem, not a writing problem. I can tell you what I already know: Writers like to have people they can bounce ideas off and it's a sign of trust that they want to share proto-work with you... sometimes they are looking for feedback... sometimes they want to poke a whole in the plot so they can cover the bases of the final product... sometimes they want an early reader test of what they are thinking about as an audience interest. But you know this... it's not a solution.

Best advice I can offer isn't writer specific but: Explain to him that you love that he comes to you with the ideas, but this isn't something you know much about and you're not sure what you can do to contribute to the conversation... this is relationship advice... You're not opposed to his hobby... but it's his hobby and not yours... it's great that he shares it with you, but you don't feel like you know how to provide him with feedback he's looking for. Think about it this way: Do either you or he ever have a bad day and come home and complain? And in mid-complain the person listening offers a solution to the problem and that just makes the complainer more angry? Sometimes people complain because they know the problem and the solution... and just need someone to vent about their frustraiton to... and sometimes they complain because they need help figuring out what the best course of action they need... but rarely do they preface the conversation with "can you just listen to me vent OR can you help me (and if they lead with the latter, its still ambiguous, as sometimes being the shoulder to cry on is the help you're asking for... but so would be the unnecessary solution to the problem.). And the solution to this is more communication, not less... and again, that's not writer advice, it works the same if the husband comes in and starts talking to you about the local sportsball team doing well in the big sportsball game and how his favorite sportsball player made MVP. They want to share something they are concerned about with the person they want to spend the rest of their life with. And for either spouse's part, it's okay to tell them that you are touched that they share this stuff with you, but you're not sure how to expand upon it.

And it's also okay to ask them to reverse the positions on your own hobbies and topics you bring to their attention. I know I can get a little too into my hobbies when I'm in the zone and "ignore" my boyfriend when he wants attention. I'm not trying to ignore him... but when anyone does something they love, they can a hard time thinking about other things (The film "Soul" from Pixar actually has a great visualization for this sort of state... and how people often get lost in it).

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