How to Win at Being a Football Widow (or Widower)
If your spouse or partner ditches you every Sunday to pray in the house of gridiron worship, then read on for tips and advice that'll save your relationship from his football addiction. Go team!
By Sharon Tanenbaum
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Does the following situation sound familiar?
It’s the last day of the weekend, and from theSunday NFL Countdownpreview show in the morning to the last seconds ofSunday Night Football, your partner is hooked on nonstop gridiron action, completely unaware of anything else going on around him. In fact, it’s almost that bad throughout the week, with constant chatter about fantasy football trades, injury reports, and total yardage from last week’s game.
We may be more halfway through football season, but you’re likely already fed up because your partner abandons you at least one day each week to watch football – all day long.
But don’t worry, it’s not you. It’s him. And you can do something about it.
Diagnosis: Football Addict or Football Fanatic?
While there’s nothing wrong with being a sports fan (Heck, it’s even good for your health!), there is such a thing as football addiction. “Any behavior where you get a thrill out of the drill can become an addiction,” explains Brad Lamm, a board-certified intervention specialist and author ofHow to Help the One You Love. “That behavior makes you feel differently; it makes you feel better. Football and fantasy football definitely do that.”
Whether your partner’s a football addict or just a football fanatic, tuning into the big games every Sunday (and Thursday, Saturday, and Monday) takes up countless hours that could be spent with family or completing those long-promised tasks like cleaning out the garage. “Most times people find a balance in the meshigas [that’s Yiddish for craziness], but then you pay because the relationship suffers,” says Lamm.
How to Deal With Your Football Fanatic
So what’s a girl (or boy) to do? “The first step really is just communication,” says Lamm. Bring up the subject on a non-football day in a calm and non-accusatory way. Then don’t be surprised if you’re met with a touch of denial. “You’ll probably see a reaction of minimization first, where he goes, ‘It’s only once a week,’ or ‘Come on, it’s the play-offs!’”
Stick to the playbook and clearly explain what you’d like to change. “We are not mind-readers, so don’t expect your spouse to understand what you’re thinking. You’ve got to say it,” asserts Lamm.
If you’re tongue-tied, try finishing the phrase, “I love you, and I need…” Whether it’s a couple of hours of together time on Sundays or an all-out television ban during meals, the idea is to simply communicate what you need to make the relationship stronger. “We have to make time for each other. Relationships are not automatic,” says Lamm.
However, Lamm warns against going overboard with a list of demands. “Be reasonable,” he insists. “Football can be really great for friendships and camaraderie, so don’t smother him. Stop trying to uncover his inner perfect husband, because it doesn’t exist. Instead make room for the man you married.”
Take a Cue from Real-Life Sunday Widows’ Playbooks
Of course, his enthusiasm for the pigskin doesn’t have to mean you have to have a bad time. Watching football games together can be a great couples’ activity — or the perfect opportunity for you to spend time doing the things you want to do. Here are three courses of action that have proven successful for these football widows, who offered their advice on our Facebook and Twitter pages.
- Learn to love the game.“I do get a ton of reading done while we are ‘watching’ the games,” said Jennifer Cartwright Ladnier on the . “Thank goodness for instant replay! They replay the good stuff ...and he does not even notice I missed it the first time.”
- If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.“I’m not a football fan, but as my husband became more addicted to sports, I decided if I wanted to have any conversations with him on the weekends, I had to join a fantasy football league on my own,” Teri Mills explained on the . “Even after 25 years of marriage, a little effort can go a long way. I have learned a lot about football, and he watches science fiction with me now. Plus, I am in fourth place and moving up in my league. And next year we’re going to do a family league with our kids and their spouses.”
- Schedule ‘me’ time.“Having a day to ourselves is a matter of personal sanity,” replied Julee Wilson Wareham on .
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