Across the country, spouses of die-hard football fans everywhere may be feeling a chill in the air since football season began two weeks ago.
(While we don’t normally like to generalize, let’s assume for the remainder of the article that the football fan is male and the spouse is female).
Let’s be frank. Your man, regardless of proximity, may have disappeared. Between actual games on Sundays, Mondays, and Thursdays and fantasy team maintenance throughout the week, football season can occupy major portions of September through February, or half a year!
A partner’s distraction can have a rippling effect throughout a marriage. Although distractions are an unavoidable (and sometimes welcome) part of life, the relationship you share with your mate may sometimes need to shift to accommodate individual priorities and interests.
5 Signs Your Partner Is Distracted by Football
>> He may check out mentally or emotionally. You may begin to feel lonely or resentful if you feel your partner is ignoring you or placing more weight on their need to keep up with the score than with whatever is going on with you at the moment. If you don’t take steps to reign in these feelings, it’s easy to feel neglected and unimportant.
>> He may check out physically. This happens when your man goes AWOL when games are hosted elsewhere. He’s not eating dinner with you. He’s not in the den watching TV. He’s not spending time with the kids like you usually do on Sunday afternoons. He is off at a friend’s house with his buddies and no end time in sight.
>> He may expect you to play full-time hostess at YOUR house. As problematic as #2 is above, consider the alternative when he reappears with all his friends for the game. This may mean prepping food, drinks, and of course, managing clean-up when it’s all over. They may eat everything in sight, including what you had prepared for dinner or the week ahead. They may scream angrily or excitedly at the TV for seemingly no reason at all. And excessive drinking or rowdy behavior can make it necessary to create a kid-free zone around the TV when you might normally watch games as a family. You may wonder who you’re married to when you observe your spouse engaging in activities you find immature, repulsive, or even dangerous.
> The division of labor may shift to you. If you experience any of the above, you may also find yourself doing all (or most) of the cooking, planning, or parenting during football season. This may not be a problem for you if the balance adjusts during the other half of the year but it can create fodder for conflict if you feel unappreciated, overwhelmed, or football starts to take away from other family commitments or quality time with your children. You may begin to wonder how much you must sacrifice so your husband can enjoy what is, essentially, a hobby or interest.
Worried that your mate might actually be addicted to football?
Check out this article for 6 Signs You Might be Addicted to Football.
(While it’s written for “futbol”/soccer fans, it still applies to “American” football”)
What to Do About It: Plan and Prepare
The very best way to tackle (pun intended) these issues is to plan ahead. After all, football season happens every year—and at the same time of year, so there’s no excuse!
Raise your concerns before pre-season. Trying to talk about the issue during the problem is always more difficult than agreeing on a game plan (another pun intended) beforehand.
Here are some possible solutions:
>> If he is glued to the TV during football season, schedule times during the week when he can connect with you and the kids without football in the mix will help you stay close and connected during football season.
>> Agree beforehand about which chores and household responsibilities you’ll each handle. Think beyond just what needs to be done and try to remain flexible on when and how it gets done. Be willing to compromise. For example, offer to pull together the spread for Sunday’s game if he’ll clean up after.
>> If you have traditionally prepped food for the game, start asking others to pitch in and make it a pot-luck event. Not only does this mean they’ll bring what they want to eat without you having to guess what that is or prep things yourself, but this sends the message that anything they don’t bring (such as that make-ahead casserole you just did in the frig) is off-limits.
>> Set a few “rules of the road” when it comes to game-time behavior. If you have a large home and can escape to another part of the house to get away from noise, that’s one thing. But if you’re in a small apartment and use weekends to prep your graduate thesis, it’s reasonable to ask them to keep the noise down. Once you and your man agree on these guidelines, trust him to enforce them.
>> Share how you feel when he seems distant. A healthy conversation on this topic (meaning, not one that makes him feel attacked) will give him the opportunity to assure you that—just because he’s very interested in football—doesn’t mean he’s disinterested in YOU! Remind yourself that this is something fun and stress-relieving for him and has nothing to do with his love for you.
>> Discuss the practicalities of your husband’s presence and absence. Let him know you have no intention of being a single parent for six months of the year, but get his cooperation and be willing to flex. Perhaps you don’t mind his going to the sports bar with his friends after work to watch Thursday night games if you can spend Sunday afternoons on the couch together as a family.
Getting out ahead of what you know is coming will go a long way toward keeping the good vibes up—and your resentment down—during football season.
The Best Offense is a Good Defense
One of the best ways to deal with your husband’s interest in football is to have an interest of your own! Why suffer and just wait around for him to come home or send his friends packing? Grab the kids, or some friends of your own, and check out that local attraction, restaurant, or new movie that’s come to town. Need a pedicure or spa treatment? You have plenty of time!
Even if you must stay home for some reason, make it all about YOU and what you enjoy. Go run a hot bath and dive into that book that’s been awaiting your attention for months. Turn on some relaxing music that drowns out the screams downstairs and take some deep breaths.
If you’re up for some non-football social time, invite the wives and girlfriends of your husband’s friends over and get some great girl time in. Rotate houses so you are (or are NOT) at the same house where the game is on. Hire a joint sitter, start a book club, or just gab. In the end, you can come out having had a better time than he did (especially if his team lost).
Join in the Fun
The very best way to appreciate football season is to enjoy it YOURSELF. Grab a jersey for your favorite team and root with (or against) your husband when they play. Get the girls to join in with their team spirit and hijack the event. Not only will this balance the dynamic, but your husband will begin to understand that you’re not going to play hostess or just sit on the sidelines during football season. In fact, enjoying it together may bring you closer than ever.
In the end, don’t allow a sport to come between you and your spouse. Work with him to help him get what he wants and he’ll likely do the same for you. Take some hints from the game and work as a team to achieve a win. And if your marriage needs support to get off the bench, give us a call. We’ve been coaching couples through more than 25 years of football seasons!