I’m not a nice person during football season. Well, maybe nice to others, but not so nice to my hubby. I don’t know what comes over me. I want to support what is one of his very few hobbies. I really do. But each time the subject of football comes up, I become one of those stereotypical wives: rolling my eyes, complaining about what a waste of time it is, and telling him I’d rather yank out my fingernails than watch a game or hear about a player’s latest transgressions.
Before you write me off as a "typical" woman, consider this: football was a huge part of my childhood. I was the only girl in the neighborhood who knew her way around the game and was not afraid to slam head first (well, shoulder first) into the biggest kid on the block. I followed all of the pro games, kept up with the stats, and dressed like a line slob for Halloween. Heck, I even played flag football in college. And when I was dating, I loved to show the guys that I could talk shop with the best of them.
Now, here I am, another football season upon me and, along with it, that feeling of dread. Why did this football lover become such a football loather?
My crankiness starts in late August, when the TV is on and constantly blaring pre-season games, and my hubby’s life becomes football, football, and more football. We’ve got two hours of commentary on Sunday morning, the pre-game show, the game, and the post-game highlights. Then there are a few hours more of reading online commentary by just about anybody who has an opinion about his team. Oh, and did I mention his fantasy football league? Suddenly, hubby’s hobby is a full-time job.
Sensing my frustration – he’d have to be in a coma not to – hubby tries to butter me up. Early each Sunday morning, my typically chore-averse guy is up extra early and, before my eyes have even fluttered, he’s done the laundry, grocery-shopped and cooked a few days’ worth of food. I see he’s trying to make the experience better for me, so what’s my problem? Why can’t I be more supportive?
It might be that the game makes me a little jealous. There, I admit it. I’m jealous of a sport. Whenever he’s watching a game or reading about his team’s latest shenanigans, I have to compete for his attention. And who wants to compete with a bunch of guys in tights?
I know, I know. I could jump on the football bandwagon, but to be honest, I hung up my jersey 15 years ago and haven’t missed it since. Even if I did get more interested in the games, it would be as an outsider, a spectator, and not as a true fan like my husband is. And unlike hubby, whose parents are still together – and happy – football is about more than the crisp smell of autumn air and the feel of the football on my fingertips. It's also about a past that I'm happier leaving behind.
In a few days, we’ll be headed out to watch the first game of the season. Maybe this year I’ll turn over a new leaf. I’ll be patient and supportive and will let him enjoy the sport that brings him so much joy and connects him to a past that I know he cherishes. Oh no, he just came out of our room wearing a tacky football jersey in bright, neon orange. Wish me luck.
~By Wendy Widom, Partner, Families in the Loop
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