married to a sports fanatic

"Married To A..." will be a series focused on the lessons we've learned from being married to our spouses. Each spouse brings a different set of perspectives, passions, and preferences into a marriage. Sometimes these differences cause major clashes. Other times, they provide teachable moments that bring a couple closer together. For better or for worse, right?  

This week, Staci of My Friend Staci is back on the blog (check out her first guest post here) to talk about something I feel like a lot of us can relate to: being married to a huge sports fan...and not being so into sports ourselves. So whether you're the sports-crazed one or your married to one, check out Staci's awesome post! 

Anyone will tell you that marriage comes with a whole bunch of surprises. Some come in the form of annoying little habits like not covering a bowl with Saran wrap before putting it in the fridge (eww) or demanding to sleep with a fan on every night (FYI, both habits can be attributed to old roommates—not my husband). Other surprises come in the form of hobbies. What would you do if you got married and then found out that your significant other had a sports obsession--that they had kept totally under wraps--until after the big day?

It wasn’t until months after the wedding that I discovered my husband’s eternal devotion to the Kansas City Chiefs. I didn’t know that the devotion was instilled by his father during important formative years. I didn’t know that he owned multiple jerseys (with stitched on letters—apparently a very important detail) or that every Sunday would be devoted to following the game (and every weekday devoted to following up on player injury or team trade updates). Or that he could remember details from individual games that occurred over ten years ago. He claims that his obsession never really surfaced during college (when we were dating) because the perennially mediocre team was doing so poorly that he kind of blocked out those seasons.

Step One: Pretend to Care
At first, I was baffled. Sure, my parents watch football, and my ex-boyfriends were interested in football (more or less) but crazy, vocal superfans were a breed only found in beer commercials… right? Wrong. I was living with one! At first, I would distance myself and keep myself occupied during game time by preparing snacks in the kitchen. And cringing to myself when the cheering or booing got out of hand in the next room. If nothing else, Football Sunday was a great excuse to invite a bunch of friends over and eat really unhealthy snack foods.

Step Two: Learn to Care
Pretending to care got old really fast, so I decided to learn the rules of the game. For me, this game was football. The sport might be different for others, but for the Big Ones (football, baseball, basketball, soccer, hockey) there are usually video games that can serve as teaching tools. Sound crazy? Maybe, but I rented Madden from the local video rental store and played against Doug. I asked him to go easy on me and serve as my own personal coach. He explained the strategy that goes into picking plays: A running play versus a passing play, for example. Before that, I had no idea that there was even a difference. Now I can (usually) tell what is happening and why. In short, it was a miracle. I also got down to the nitty gritty like when the team punts the ball instead of “going for it,” or when a coach can call a time-out or challenge a bad play. Learning the language, as I like to think of it, made the game much less, ahem, stupid and believe it or not, I really got into it!

Step Three: Find the Happy Medium
Now that I know what football is all about, watching a game is easy—in short, I know what’s going on! It’s fun when it’s a big rivalry or when the team is doing really well and has a real chance at the championship. Now I can get involved instead of hopelessly throwing up my hands or rolling my eyes. That said, however, my hubby knows that when something is really important to me—say, my cousin’s wedding, or a concert that happens to fall on a Sunday, or even something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time—he knows that it’s just a game and can fall onto the back burner for that week.

Right now I know that this sounds like a one-dimensional, "women, learn how to understand football so you can get along with your husband" article. It doesn’t really seem feminist at all. You know what, though? It is part of my story and I know other women can benefit from my experience. I did learn about football so that I could participate in something that my husband has been passionate about from an early age. It happens to be sports. It could have been modern art, music, or I don't know... exotic teas? The point is that I made an effort and now watching a game is something we can enjoy together as opposed to something he does while I roll my eyes and think, “how dumb.” I even look forward to Sunday afternoons on the couch as part of our fall and winter rhythm. 

As someone married to a big hockey fan, I can definitely relate to this! I knew nothing about hockey when I got married. Now? Well, I still don't know that much about hockey BUT I love going to hockey games and my husband just bought me my very first jersey! (Go Kings Go!) What about you? Who is the sports-obsessed one in your house? Did you learn to love the game for your spouse or do you still flee on game day? Let me know in the comments! 

Staci Jackson (@myfriendstaci) loves home design, world travel, and exploring the neighborhoods in her new home city of San Diego. She blogs about it all at www.myfriendstaci.com.