We’re nearing the fall season and that means … football! For the next several months, your partner will be glued to the TV for Sunday pre-game shows, the big game, and post-game commentaries and summaries … all day long and into the night. Then the crew comes over to watch the Monday-night game, and then he’s got some tailgating parties thrown in here and there.
Do you share in the excitement of gridiron action with your sweetie or are you a full-fledged “football widow?” Does he ditch you while in the throes of football fever, leaving you sick and tired of his seasonal addiction to a sport you’d rather didn’t exist?
While you ponder getting a replacement sex partner, is your mate lusting after gridiron action or the latest picks for their fantasy football team draft? What’s a partner who wants a meaningful life with her sweetie – all four seasons – to do?
Maybe a change in attitude is in order … a change in YOUR attitude, for instance. Here are a few pointers from my sports widow’s playbook, a few ways to look at how you can turn the situation around, take advantage of your mutual downtime, and avoid feeling left out, alone, and bitter.
Let them enjoy their addiction. Is it the best strategy to lament your relationship and try to save it from his football addiction? Why not accept that it’s okay for your partner to get caught up in a harmless addiction to football, some other sport, or whatever else grabs their attention that they so look forward to? Don’t you have some obsessions of your own that he’s not involved in, that he “puts up with?”
“If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” This might sound trite, but have you tried joining him rather than trying to “beat him up” for his activity obsession? Are your complaints falling on deaf ears (because he’s got his headphones on listening to the game)? He might be secretly hoping you’ll give in and not only accept his cool-weather addiction but sit down with him and get immersed in the play-by-play excitement by his side.
A hidden opportunity. What a great opportunity to engage in sports hysteria or other activity addictions with your partner. You can have some quality time for fantasy football AND yourselves. You can delve into the fun and discover the indescribable feeling of rooting for the home team
Make some YOU time. If you’ve called a truce and agree to disagree that his activity addiction is not your cup of tea, why not use the time away from one another to get immersed in stuff that you love? What if you take up a new hobby … read those books you’ve been meaning to get to … listen to your favorite music … binge-watch that new TV series … schedule a yoga or workout session?
Must you be “joined at the hip?” Try to dispel the belief that you two need to do everything together. It’s healthy for couples to have time apart. His sports time your opportunity to practice your individuality, have a social life outside of the one with your mate. You could catch up with friends, visit family, plan an outing with the girls, join a discussion group.
When Things Get Out of Hand
Sometimes being a fanatic about football or other activity that you don’t particularly care for or can’t good-naturedly accept can get out of hand. Sometimes a line gets crossed from fanatic to addict. My take? I think the keyword is “balance.” If balance is absent, a relationship can suffer and deteriorate.
Is he spending every waking hour of free time with his obsession? Is it cutting into activities or special moments you used to share? Is he shutting you out by cutting off meaningful conversations or the intimate chit-chat of everyday life? Is the glue of your relationship failing as you come unglued by the lack of communication?
Make sure to express your feelings. Tell your mate, in a loving way, how you feel. You might tell him you feel like you’re not getting enough of his free time and ask if he can cut back or somehow modify the football frenzy. Tell him you love the time you spend together and you miss it, that you feel bad that so much of it goes to something that you don’t enjoy sharing an activity with him to the extent that he enjoys it.
Get a commitment to change. You can do that by being clear about what you would like him to change and what is acceptable to you. For example, if you can live with one or two days a week of total football immersion, tell him. Or, you might ask if he will agree to spend a certain amount of time with you in an activity that you both enjoy on a regular basis.
Does he get that his preoccupation is a big deal, a serious roadblock in the relationship? Does he understand your concerns? Is he willing to make compromises? Is he assuring you that he’s not shutting you out for other reasons and that he’s telling you the whole truth when he says that?
It’s also important to put his obsession in perspective. Are you being realistic? Football is one season. Isn’t it reasonable to give him this one season where he doesn’t have to worry about arguing or the stress of displeasing you when there’s three more seasons? What if circumstances were reversed? How would you feel if he complained every time you were unavailable because you’re out with the girls?
Have you made peace with some aspects of the situation? Are you allowing yourself space and activities outside of your relationship? Have you adjusted your attitude some? Is he understanding and being reasonable? If your answers are “yes,” I’d say that’s a touchdown.