Back in high school, I fell in love with our high school football team’s quarterback. We got married a few years after graduation. His only dream was to become a professional player, but he was injured during a college game. He has resigned himself to working an office job, which he’s doing very well at. The problem is that he hasn’t gotten over his obsession with football. During the football season, I cease to exist in his world. I am what they call a football widow. I have brought this up with him several times over the years, only to be told that that’s what I should have expected.
He is already starting to talk about the upcoming football season, and I find myself getting on edge already. What am I to do about this? I know it’s his passion, but I feel like I am a nonentity for all those months. What should I do?
Wisconsin Football Widow
Mom says that your husband is a cheesehead. I do not know what that means, but I do like cheese. I would not want my head to be made of cheese, though, so maybe she means it as an insult. Either way, you may not like my answer: your husband is right.
What I mean is that you knew who he was when you married him. Even though you were very young and may have thought that he was going to grow out of things as you got older together, that is not how humans (or dogs) work. I will always love tennis balls, no matter how old I get. I will also always want to go swimming whenever I see water. It is part of who I am, and you cannot separate these parts out just because you do not like them. You could separate me from water, but it would only make me sad. You can wish people to change, but you cannot do the changing for them, and you cannot make them do any changes for you. Not changes that will make them happy, anyway. Plus, if you are nagging someone to do or not do something that only YOU want, why would they want to spend more time with you? You sound unpleasant.
That being said, there are many things that you can do for yourself and a couple of suggestions for him to consider, too.
First of all, why did he leave football? If he had both a love and talent for it, then he should be sharing that with anyone he can. He could coach for his old high school or college. He could coach for younger kids, or he could even write books. This would make him happier and then he would not have to live vicariously through the other professional players. He would actually be a professional footballer, just not the kind he sits and watches all season — he would be out doing, which is better! I would much rather sit in a puddle myself than watch other dogs swim on a TV show.
If he is happier doing what he really wants to do, you will be happier, too. He may still be obsessed with football, like I am with tennis balls, but he will actually be doing something about it, instead of just staring at something he is not doing.
My first suggestion for you is what I saw mom do with our friend Lexy. Lexy’s husband was into watching all sports — baseball, football, even soccer — so he was really boring for many months out of the year. Instead of getting upset, Lexy got involved with the one sport she liked (baseball), and they would go to games together, either at the stadium, at other people’s houses, or at bars. They would enjoy the game and have fun together. For the other sports, Lexy would have her own parties with the other sports widows. They would drink wine, go out to play pool, paint, have barbeques, or play other games together. Even though it was just mom and me for a while, we would go to these parties and boy were they fun! The guys who were watching the sports would get jealous and join us instead.
While I love swimming and tennis balls, mom and dad like totally different things, too. OK, mom DOES love to go swimming with me, but not all of the time. There are times that mom is writing or doing art or something else, so I go swimming without her. There are times that dad is acting or reading, so mom and I go swimming without him. There are times when both mom and dad are busy, so I go swimming alone or play with my kitties. We are each happy doing our own thing. Sometimes we all go on walks together. Then, we are all happy doing things together.
What is your thing? If you do not have a thing, boy, you better find out! I suggest looking for something that you are good at and enjoy and can do during football season. Then you will not be just a wife or a football widow, you will be a full person.