Football season is here again, and once again my husband is glued to the TV whenever a game is being televised. Over the years, I have learned not to make plans with “Joe” on weekends during the fall because I know he will refuse to leave the living room unless we are going somewhere with a TV that will be carrying the game. I had adjusted to his obsession, and made adjustments for it – once going so far as to lie to a family member about why Joe could not make it to her wedding (I said he was sick; he was home watching an “important” game). Now that our children are growing up – they are 6 and 8 – I want Joe to start putting them first, not football.
When Joe and I made our admittedly odd arrangement, football was usually constrained to Sunday afternoons and Monday nights. Since that time the NFL schedule has changed, with games now being televised all nights of the week. Joe has also picked up the habit of following college football, so no matter what day it is there is always a game that needs to be watched.
Last year, after Joe missed an important family event, I put my foot down and told Joe that we needed to renegotiate our deal. I told him that I wanted Saturdays as a family day and that any family gathering supersedes football – from weddings and funerals to children’s’ birthday parties. He hemmed and hawed, and sulked but finally agreed to cut back on the amount of football he consumed. I should have got the deal in writing…
This year nothing has changed. No, it has changed; it is worse than ever! Joe decided to subscribe to the sports package our local cable company offers (he “got a good deal”), so now we have both the NFL Channel and NFL Red Zone. Football games are now on every Thursday night in addition to all day Sunday, plus every Monday night and the occasional Saturday. The Red Zone channel has no commercial breaks, so when Joe is watching it he doesn’t stop! At least with over-the-air games I could look forward to half-time and commercial breaks! I have told Joe that he is breaking our deal, but he told me that he has paid for the sports package and that he wants to get his money’s worth out of it.
This past Thursday Joe missed our 8 year old daughter’s dance recital because a football game was on TV, and he wanted to catch “all the important pre-game action”. He claimed that he had a long day at work, and was tired and wanted to come home and relax with the game; that he had made a wager on it with a co-worker and that meant he would be able to concentrate on nothing but the game, even if he was at our daughter’s recital. I knew enough not to drag him along – the last time I did that (to my father’s funeral) he streamed the game online through his phone the entire time.
You are probably asking yourself why I don’t leave Joe, and the truth is that he is a great husband and father during the off-season; I just wish he could be the same during football season. Can you help me to figure out how to pry my husband away from the TV and back to reality?
Dear Football Widow:
Your husband is more than obsessed with football; he is addicted to it, and it is an unhealthy addiction at that. Missing a wedding because a football game is on TV? Streaming the game at your father’s funeral??? I realize that you may not want to put your foot down, for that would be treating your spouse like a child, but you do not have to cover for his behavior!
I suggest you sit down and have a heart to heart talk with Joe. Tell him that your daughter was very disappointed that her Daddy was not there to see her dance recital. Ask him if he would like to tell her that he missed it because a football game was on TV. Only a man with a heart of stone would be so cruel as to tell a child this ugly truth, but this should at least get your husband thinking about the effect his behavior is having on the children. Tell him that you are tired of him putting football before the children and that you are no longer going to stand around and watch it happen, that you are no longer going to defend his actions to others – and that includes your children. Tell Joe that if one of the children asks why Daddy isn’t there, you will tell them to ask Daddy – and then follow through. He needs to see the looks of disappointment that he is causing.
If ever a marriage was in dire need of counseling, yours is. If Joe refuses to see a marriage counselor, go alone. A counselor can teach you things like coping mechanisms to deal with the things you cannot control or change and how to be assertive without treating your spouse like a child, which will further alienate him from you. Once Joe sees you are serious about talking to a counselor it is possible that he will decide to join you – if only because he wants to tell his side of the story. You humans cannot stand the thought of someone telling tales about you!
Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with Bachelors degrees in Communications and in Gender and Women's Studies. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.