Friday, September 23, 2011

Week 7: Are You Ready for some Football?

Scripture to reflect upon for Relationship Revival: Proverbs 21:19
Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife.

So ladies, it’s football season again. Many of you are going to find yourself in a tithy every Sunday afternoon and Monday night. You are going to be angered and feel rejected. You will start arguments and find ways to disturb your husband while he tries to enjoy the games. I will read many, many facebook statuses from women professing their absolute loathing of football. I must admit, I don’t understand why.

Many years ago (in my twenties) I dated an avid football fan. I used to get so angry every time he would tell me that he was going to spend time with his friends to watch the games. See, I worked full time during the week and he went to college full time. The weekends were our only time together. I hated that he devoted so much time and energy into such a silly thing as football.

Well, I got to thinking: If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. It was my only hope of spending time with him. So I asked him one Sunday if he would come over with his friends to my house and teach me the game. Let me tell you something, he was so excited and so thrilled to talk about football that he jumped on the chance to actually teach me the sport. (We all know how men like to tell us what to do; I mean, teach us things.)

Him and his friends came over that Sunday and sat with me and told me all the rules, all the plays and all the players. Who to watch, what to watch, what the penalties are, and so on. Truly, I still hated it at first, but only because I didn’t get it right away. But they came back the following week and went over it again with me. Three weeks later I actually found myself enjoying the game just as much as the guys did! (I’ll admit, I was originally a Redskins fan. My reasoning for liking them at the time was because one of their players helped pick up the opposing team’s player after he knocked him down. I wised up soon enough…)

Today, I’m a huge Packers fan. I liked them even when they weren’t so popular. And honestly, my ex-boyfriend from my twenties hated them because he was a Bears fan. So you can only imagine the heated discussions we’d get into, but that’s what made it even more fun!

My son, Josh, who really didn’t have much of a male influence on his life, ended up loving the sport because of my love of the game, too. Although, I was a bit angered by the fact that he chose the Cowboys as his favorite team and went out of his way to shove it in my face. All in fun, of course.

Listen, you can sit there and moan and groan all you want. That is not going to change your husband! You can whine, cry, complain, stand in front of the TV…whatever. He loves the game. Let him love the game! What is the harm? I mean, really…what is the harm? Don’t you have things that you like to do that he doesn’t? I’m sure he doesn’t like to go high heel shopping, or boot shopping, or purse shopping, does he? Does he complain to you about how you love to cook, or love to read? Does he stand in front of you and moan and groan and whine about how you’re not spending enough time with him?

I have to confess, I spent so many heart wrenching years trying to change men. I cried so many useless tears over trivial things like football, or camping trips, or looking at cars. But our guys can teach us a lot if we would only let them. If we only showed an interest in their interests. Why is that so hard for us to do?

Jared’s father loved opera and theatre. He never once played ball with them, or encouraged them to watch or participate in any kind of sports. There’s nothing wrong with those things, but when we first started dating, I had a real issue with him not liking football. He just didn’t get the sport and the idea of being a “fan”. That was extremely foreign to him.

What was so great about Jared, was his willingness to learn something he had absolutely zero interest in, solely to please me. He knew it was an important part of my life in the fall and winter. He knew he was either going to have to learn the game or sit miserably by waiting to be with me on Tuesday. So he asked me to teach him about the game. Josh and I spent many Sunday afternoons teaching him all about football. By the end of our first season together, he still didn’t quite understand the hoopla over the sport. He liked it fine enough. It was something he could “tolerate” in order to spend time with me and Josh. What he enjoyed more than anything was our excitement about the game. He would get so tickled by my joy or disappointment. It connected him to me on a deeper level, because he allowed himself to discover something about me that I loved.

Today, Jared is MORE of a football fan than I am! There are times now when he will watch football and I’ll be in the other room doing my own thing, and I’m quite alright with that. I love that Jared has found something that makes him so happy and gives him such joy. I would never want to take that away from him. I would never even ask. And if I did, then SHAME on me!! How dare us try to rip the simple joys of life from our partners merely for our own selfishness. What would you do anyway? Have him mow the lawn? Oh, fun! Or have him go dress shopping with you? Yee-ha! Make him tag along miserably with you grocery shopping? Or worse yet, would you make him do something he may hate, too, like going to a chick flick?

Guys, don’t get me wrong, this goes both ways. Men should be open to discovering what their partner likes too. You’d be surprised at how good some of those chick flicks are!

Jared loved the BBC TV show, Doctor Who. I thought it was utterly cheese ball and silly. I would laugh at him whenever he watched it, and eventually just go to our room and read during the show. One day I sat out in the living room with him, and although it was still cheesy, I got a bit hooked. I didn’t want to admit it at first, because I made such a big stink about it in the beginning, but four years later I can’t wait for the new season to start, and I’ve even joined a facebook Whovian fan page. Yeah, I’m that nuts about it!

One thing that I learned over the years is that I don’t need a man to complete me. I don’t need to be with him every waking moment. I drove myself insane trying to get men to spend time with me when they had other things they had or wanted to do. And I can’t tell you how many ridiculous arguments I started in hopes of changing their minds. It never worked.

We put such an enormous burden on our partners when we demand that they be consumed with us at all times. You will never be fully happy if you keep forcing the issue, whether it’s football, golf, or hunting. We have to learn to accept the fact that they have other interests besides us, or use it as an excuse to have “me time,” or better yet, admit defeat and learn to like their interest too.

ACTION PLAN: Stop acting so silly! Quite honestly, anywhere is better than being around someone who is endlessly nagging and complaining about something. Stop being miserable and making everyone else miserable in the process. It’s time for you to start doing things you enjoy doing when your partner is doing things they enjoy doing. You can’t fully depend on your partner to fulfill your every need. You have got to learn how to be a bit more independent in that sense. If you ask me, there’s no better time to spend with God then when your partner is busy doing something they enjoy on their own.

GO FURTHER: This football season decide to sit with your partner for a few games. Ask him (or her) to teach you the game. Tell them that you want to understand it so it can be something you share together. Jared and I make a big deal out of game day. We plan menus around it and everything. It becomes a very special day for us to spend together, and something we really look forward to throughout the week. Invite your partner’s friends over for game day and make it a special day for your partner. If after a few weeks you’ve discovered you still hate the game, let it go and let your partner have their day. Just ask them if they would be willing to make sure to do something special with you later during the week so you can have some time together.

FACT: Learn to accept your partner as they are. Don’t try to change their interests. It’s impossible. They have to want to change, and they have to make the efforts…but remember, so do you!

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