When my husband and I were first married, we did things together all the time. We shot pool, went to restaurants, played cards and Rummikub and Scrabble and Jeopardy. As the years marched on, Kwame went to nursing school, I took on more responsibility at my job, and then we had two babies within 15 months of each other. We had moments together instead of hours, and it was a rare occasion that we might pull out a deck of cards or a board game; we rarely made it out of the house.
The issue we faced, as the days got fuller, was not having friend time. We held it down at home, each of us working to get bills paid, make meals, keep laundry going. We held it down at parenting, scheduling appointments, reading books, potty-training, homework. We also took care of the basic needs of our relationship. But we let our friendship turn into a partnership- and that was bad.
About three years ago, I was reading on the couch while Kwame watched football, wishing he would turn the tv off and ask me to do something. Through the fog of my discontent I realized something with total clarity- I didn’t need him to make the first move! I was expecting him to come up with an idea to make space for friendship, when I was just as capable of producing a great idea.
I had an instant idea- fantasy football- but I was intimidated by the idea. I knew the league was about to have their draft, that they already had an even number of participants, and that they were all guys. Oh yeah, and I didn’t know anything about football. But in the way we are sometimes given a gift of certainty, I knew this was the perfect idea, and I had to at least try. After all, Kwame played fantasy football every year, and it would be something we could talk about, and a way we could compete (which is our love language)!
There was pushback to me joining the league that first year, because the league manager was certain it was just a way for Kwame to own 2 teams- his AND mine. But Kwame pushed, and I got in. I had expected that playing FF would only be a way to give my time to Kwame, sort of sacrificially, the way an amazing, unselfish wife might do. But it ended up being just as beneficial to me, giving me an outlet to learn something new, be fiercely competitive, and have enormous fun discussing football with my hubs.
This year marks the third I’ve played FF, and I have never regretted the time and energy I give it, because it is a great way of bonding with Kwame, and strangely satisfying for me.
Sports-related activities don’t work for everyone, but there is always something that can be done to spend time together; it doesn’t have to be expensive either. Perhaps you and your partner agree to read the same book, which will lead to all kinds of conversation. Maybe you decide on a project to tackle together, your hands working in harmony to make or remodel something. Taking a hike, or throwing a frisbee, (or any number of out-doorsy activities), can be such a fun way to laugh and tease each other. All I know is that you don’t have to find something to do that you both love equally, because that isn’t always practical. But throwing yourself into an activity that your partner is excited about is a fantastic way of showing an interest that you might not have displayed in awhile. And it can provide so much life and laughter- especially when you beat the pants off them!