Relationship Advice: Common Interests Lead to Happy Couples

By Jackie Pilossoph, Founder, Divorced Girl Smiling, the place to find trusted, vetted divorce professionals, a podcast, website and mobile app.

relationship advice

In this week’s “Love Essentially,” published yesterday in Sun-Times Media local, I give relationship advice that has to do with the importance of a couple’s commonalities.  The column starts with a letter I received:

Dear Jackie,

I love playing in the Buffalo Grove Symphonic Band. Apparently, so do others, including six married couples! One couple met in their high school band, and now has been married for almost 50 years. Another met and got married while they were both playing in the Buffalo Grove Symphonic Band.

Does playing music in a band prolong a marriage? Does it cause people to fall in love and get married? The couple that plays together stays together?

Al Nudelman,
Buffalo Grove Symphonic Band

Hearing about all these happy couples playing their instruments together is like music to my ears, (ba-dum ching). The answer to Al’s question, “A couple that plays together stays together?” is definitely yes, and goes far beyond just applying to music.

Couples who have common interests are more likely to:

1. Spend more time together

2. Get along better

3. Understand each other and treat each other with respect

4. Have fun together

5. Stay connected

Whether it’s music, golf, history, art, watching the Bears or even being in the same field professionally, there’s nothing better for a relationship than having common interests and hobbies that don’t include your children.

The couple Nudelman is referring to in his e-mail, who met while playing in the Buffalo Grove Symphonic Band, are percussionist Allison Rakickas, a teacher at Buffalo Grove’s Meridian Middle School, and her husband, Erin David Rakickas, who plays the French horn. With two children, ages 7 and 4, the two just celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary.

“When he first asked me to dinner after a band rehearsal, I was expecting that a group from band would be going, but it was just the two of us,” said Allison.

“It really was never awkward. We talked about the band and the music we were playing, and about our previous experience in bands. Playing in these groups as high school and college students really helped shape who we were. It is a huge part of my personality and the fact that he could understand that helped us connect right away.”

Allison said that the best friends she had and has, (including her husband) she met through band.

“Being in a band helps people get to know each other in a unique environment,” she said. “It’s a place where we all come together for a common goal that is not work related and noncompetitive. We just get each other. My band friendship with Erin grew into love and marriage.”

“We just get each other.” Doesn’t that say it all?

I can’t help but think of the 1989 Paula Abdul song, “Opposites Attract.” Lyrics include:

“You like the movies and I like TV”

“You go to bed early and I party all night”

“I’m like a minus she’s like a plus”

Forget it! A relationship like that would never work! The thing that helps keep relationships healthy and strong is commonality, and I don’t mean having the same background, although that does help.

 But even if you come from completely different upbringings, having something that keeps you connected gives your relationship a better chance of long term success. If you’re relationship is like Paula Abdul’s in the song, your infatuation will eventually wear off, you will be unhappy and unfulfilled in the relationship and or things will end. I bet every single breakup includes the words, “We don’t have anything in common anymore.”

By the way, if you are interested in hearing The Buffalo Grove Symphonic Band, which is a 70 member adult community instrumental group, the upcoming fall concert, “Scot and Water” will be presented on November 2 at 7pm in the theatre at Buffalo Grove High School. Learn more:


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    Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

    Jackie Pilossoph is the Founder of Divorced Girl Smiling, the media company that connects people facing with divorce to trusted, vetted divorce professionals. Pilossoph is a former NBC affiliate television journalist and Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press features reporter. Her syndicated column, Love Essentially was published in the Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press and Tribune owned publications for 7 1/2 years. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University. Learn more at:

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