Anyone in a stepfamily knows little can prepare you for the blended journey. Surprise pitfalls are standard. Successful blended-family marriages require adaptability, a lesson I soon learned.

One pitfall came in the form of my husband’s interests—hunting and fishing. My previous marriage was all about sports. While I’m not a sports fan, it was easy to understand because of my own alma mater and the camaraderie with friends.

Robbie, however, is a 21st-century Daniel Boone. There’s not an animal he can’t kill, skin, and fry up for dinner. Neither my first husband nor my father was an outdoorsman, so this pastime was foreign to me. I soon realized I was a fish out of water.

This became clear while watching a fishing show (something Robbie mysteriously finds entertaining). An angler explained he was “ripping the rattle trap out of the coon tails.” My brow crinkled and head cocked. It sounded like English but made no sense.

It was a new dialect. I soon heard myself asking questions like, “What’s a shaky head? What’s a whopper plopper? How does a deer rut?”

These confusing phrases came up in everyday conversations. At times, I felt exhausted and even stupid. Robbie thought everyone knew this—how could his wife be so uneducated?

I soon realized, in order to communicate, fellowship, and encourage this man, I had to learn his mysterious language.

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Learning to speak my husband’s “language”

That wouldn’t be easy for me. I’m not outdoorsy. I like reading, writing, crafting, and I don’t like sweating! So learning a “boots on the ground” lifestyle wasn’t my idea of fun.

But I did know I loved this man, and if being closer to him meant giving up a little comfort, it was worth it.

I started my new education by asking lots of questions, to Robbie’s dismay. At first, he thought I was acting dumb. (Everything seemed obvious to him.) But he soon enjoyed imparting his knowledge to this eager listener.

Next, I organized a fishing trip for our anniversary. Robbie teemed with pride when I caught a six-pound trout! I’ve never seen him more in love.

Now, years later, I’m still not outdoorsy. I don’t anticipate deer season or practice duck calls. I’ve gained new experiences, though, including shooting guns at the range and reloading ammo. But the greatest gain is the ability to talk to my husband about what he loves, and best of all, catch that penetrating glimmer in his eyes when I join him on his adventures.

Copyright © 2023 by Sabrina McDonald. All rights reserved.

Sabrina McDonald has a master’s degree in marriage and family counseling from Liberty University. She is the author of six books, including her newest, A Home Build From Love and Loss.