Couples can learn to appreciate the things their spouse is passionate about and it will make for a much happier marriage.

When we got married, we had the thought that Linda the violinist would teach Richard to play the cello and that Richard the tennis player would groom Linda for mixed doubles.

Neither worked out very well.

Today, Richard can manage the eight notes required for the cello part of Pachelbel’s Cannon in D, and Linda can get a slow serve in and then move off the court to let Richard play the point.

Not exactly what either of us had in mind.

But, some serendipity happened: Linda became an avid tennis fan, and Richard now adores classical symphonic music.

“If you can’t do it, appreciate it,” has become our motto.

Linda doesn’t have to drag Richard to the symphony — we drag each other!

And we are writing this column from Rolland Garros, site of the great French Open tennis tournament in Paris where Linda is at least as into it as Richard. (“It’s not just the tennis, it’s the food,” she says.) Whenever we get a speaking invitation in Europe in the spring, we build Rolland Garros or Wimbledon into our schedule; not to mention Sir Neville Marriner and the orchestra at St. Martin in the Field.

So the family message here is simple: Adopt each other’s interests and passions, whatever they are.

One of our daughters has adopted her husband’s love for camping. Another daughter has discovered that if she reads parts of the Economist every week, which her husband reads cover to cover, the two of them will have a lot more to talk about. One of our sons is working hard to learn another language because his Swiss wife happens to speak seven of them.

Now, you may not get much chance to completely devote yourself to any of your spouse’s passions, or to your own, for that matter, while the kids are around. (Or, better said, the kids had better be your main interest or passion while they are at home.)

But remember, the empty nest is coming sometime, and if you have learned to love what each other loves, it will be a happier nest!

For us, a lot of it is tied to a little saying we have come to love: “If it’s important to you, it’s important to me.”

You can live on borrowed light or borrowed passion for something for a while and, then, whadda ya know, you start loving it like your partner loves it.

One of the worst things we can do is wish our spouse were more like us, that he or she liked exactly the same things we do, that we would always want to spend our time or our money or our energy in exactly the same way.

What could be more boring than that?

Let’s celebrate our differences! Let’s learn from each other’s interests! Let’s learn the marvelous marriage synergy of accepting each other’s passions, then adopting them, then loving them.

Richard and Linda Eyre are New York Times No. 1 best-selling authors who lecture throughout the world on family-related topics. Read Linda's blog at and visit the Eyres anytime at