My husband goes into a football coma during weekends in the fall. I feel like a single parent from Saturday morning through Monday night.
Caroline: This won't make me popular, but I say there's no use fighting the football phenomenon. My husband was born and raised in Nebraska, where Cornhusker football is king. Like most Nebraskans, he's been a fanatic all his life. His sister even moved the time of her wedding reception to accommodate a game (“Otherwise, no one would have come,” she said.) Of course, that didn't change after our wedding day; it's part of who he is.
My solution: I've become a football fan myself. Game days are a big deal around our house. We all don Husker gear, and we all watch. It has become a fun family event.
A sneaky tip: Invite friends over for the game. (But, for your husband's sake, be sure they're fans who will actually watch.) My kids and I enjoy the social atmosphere and, better yet, it inspires husbands to get a mammoth amount of work done before game time. If Nebraska plays on Saturday afternoon, for example, and we have company coming, Tom will be up early to mow the lawn, pick up the house, clean the kitchen, vacuum — even shop for groceries (and, of course, game snacks). A weekend's worth of work is done by 2 o'clock!
Tom: As a lifelong carrier of the football virus myself, I can tell you that there is no known cure for it — but the disease can be managed and its symptoms controlled. I've found that watching football per se was not the problem. Caroline didn't mind me watching as long as she was aware of the schedule ahead of time. What would bother her was when I would simply park myself on the couch for the day without any regard for our family plan for the weekend. No matter how much I enjoy football, I simply cannot allow it to trump all other responsibilities and expect the household to go on without me. After all, on weekends, we dads have more time to spend with our wives and kids, and we can't squander it.
So I plan ahead. I am a huge fan of college football. I'll watch Montana Polytech play Virginia Southern A&M with glee while respecting the fact that, now that I have a family, I must use restraint. During the week, I let Caroline know if Nebraska's game is being televised. That way she doesn't feel blindsided. Those three hours have been blocked out on our schedule.
Because Caroline graciously indulges me in this way, I try to reciprocate by helping around the house or taking the kids out so she can have a break. For example, last weekend, Nebraska's game wasn't televised, so, instead of turning on another game, I took the kids to the circus while Caroline had a well-deserved nap.
Bottom line: If husbands make good, conscientious use of weekend time with their families, I'm willing to bet that their wives won't mind them watching some football now and then.
Tom and Caroline McDonald are family-life coordinators for the Diocese of Mobile, Alabama.