Category Archives: Love & Relationships

Ambivalent

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

Can you help me with the “Let’s just be friends.” conversation? It’s not
that I want to end a relationship, but that I don’t want to restart one. I
was in a six-month relationship last year that started with a bang and
ended with a whimper. The details don’t really matter, but we both
concluded that we could have a good long-run friendship but that we
weren’t really in love with one another and that while we were great in
bed, that wasn’t enough to build a strong relationship upon. The
break-up was mutual and has lasted five months. In the interim she
got involved with someone else briefly, that apparently made me look
like a much better prospect. In the interim I have been single, and
reconfirmed that I really like living alone and not being in a
relationship, or at least not being in one with someone with whom I’m
not really in love. We went for dinner and movie yesterday and her
subtext was laden with “Wouldn’t it be nice to get back together, at
least as lovers….” At least a half-dozen times, and more like double
that. I just let them slide off, but I know the conversation will return.
I’m not averse to the idea, but know that it’s not what I really want in
my life, though with her it could be a temporary thing again. What
should I say?

Ambivalent

 

Dear Ambivalent:

Your signing name says it all. Until you know what you want, you
won’t be able to hold a reasonable conversation on the subject of
creating some form of friendship other than dinner and movie biddies.
There’s not point stumbling through a discussion when you aren’t clear
in your own head or heart what you really do want. You seem pretty
clear about what you do not want with her, but that’s not enough to
engage another person in a serious, or even casual, relationship.
If you know you do not want to have a serious relationship, and that
you are not in love with this woman, you should have the courage to
tell her. It’s not an easy thing to say or hear, but honesty beats
exploitation every week of the year. If you do want to have a friends
with benefits relationship, you can say that. But beware the human
heart, not to mention the biology of endorphins and hormones, which
conspire to impact our emotions. It’s the rare person who can be
intimate without becoming more emotionally engaged with their lover.
One of you might be that person, but both being so is highly unlikely. I
see another break-up in your future if this goes sideways. It’s your call
if you want to risk it. Waiting and dating a while seems like a good first
step.

Stressed

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I have a husband with a long-term disability that is healing but not yet healed.
There are two issues. The first, which is medical, is that he has to NOT DO
certain things that might push his healing backwards. We have had several fights
about this during his convalescence. He thinks he is more fit than the doctors do,
and has many times too often done what I consider risky behaviors. That usually
involves trying to fix things around the house and yard, things he would have
been able to do in his sleep before his injury, but that are on the list of forbidden
activities (for example climbing on ladders).

 

The second issue is that he feels emasculated by my attempts to set up boundaries,
even though they are fully in line with the doctor’s instructions. He doesn’t get that
if he goes down again, everything falls to me. I am a working professional and already stretched thin, especially after six months of caretaking. This has impacted not just our intimacy but emotional trust. Can you help?

Stressed

 
Dear Stressed:

The practical side is far easier than the emotional side. Write up a checklist of
activities and submit it to the doctor (or more likely to his nurse). It can be really
simple: two columns headed by “allowed to do” and “not yet.” When you get the
list back, put it on the frig with a magnet and extract a promise that he will not do
anything more physical than daily life without consulting the list; if an activity is
something he is not yet ready for, the two of you will agree on a plan to get it
accomplished.

 
As for the emotional stress, you need a marriage/couples counselor. Most
marriages would benefit from this kind of tune up on a regular basis, but usually
folks wait until they’re in deep trouble to get help. If they wait too long, the bonds
are too fragile to sustain the pressure. In your case, if his illness is the primary
culprit, and is time-limited, you probably have a great chance to recover
communication and trust. But someone who is skilled at helping people on an
ongoing basis would be a real asset to the two of you. Ask discretely among your
friends and you will get names. People don’t tend to advertise when they have
seen a counselor, but your situation is one they will be able to relate to, and you
will find referrals.

Craving Space

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I’m a teacher who is returning to work this week. My husband is recently retired,
and suffering from the lack of social contact that he got from his colleagues. In
summer, when he had me around all day, we did a great many things together.
But when I would go off and visit my girlfriends or do volunteer work, I could tell
he was restless and overly needy when I got home. When I walk in the door after
teaching I need some time to decompress before I am ready to be social or to
take care of him. I simply cannot absorb or fulfill all his emotional needs. Ideas?

Craving Space

 
Dear Craving Space:

Your hubby needs something to occupy not just his time but his
mental energy so that he has something to share with you when you
are together, so he’s not so needy that he pounces on you the second
you walk in the door. Consider: projects like things to do around the
house, a new hobby, volunteer work of his own, or to enroll in classes.
I always suggest having a signal (beyond Hi honey I’m home.) as a
cue that you are ready to interact. Even 10 minutes to put down your
purse, check the mail, make a cup of tea, and exhale can be enough to
reset your mood.

 
I suggest a family planning council where you sit down and talk about
a typical week. Map it out on the calendar, where you block out all
your commitments and obligations, as well as the things you would
like to do in your leisure time, both with and without him. Then ask
him to do the same. Hopefully the yawning void will inspire him. If not,
talk about things he “has always wanted to do,” whether it is learning
a foreign language (perhaps in preparation for a future trip) or a new
skill. Perhaps his former profession is useful to some non-profit in a
volunteer capacity. Help him get excited about possibilities, and
remember there’s always going to the gym. That alone should make
him look for alternatives, lol.

Momma Wife

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

Everyone in my family relies on me and I am going a little nuts from
having zero time to myself. My husband is 20 years older and
medically dependant on me. My two adult children seem to be in
constant crisis with their own health, finances, jobs, and children. The
phone doesn’t stop with needy requests. I feel a little like I am being
eaten alive. I cannot remember the last time I sat with a book in my
garden and relaxed. The closest I get to quiet time is when I volunteer
to cook and serve at the senior brunches at the synagogue. Can you
help me find me again?

Momma Wife

 
Dear Momma Wife:

Bear with me on the math. There are 168 hours in a week, minus approximately
70 for sleep, showering, brushing your teeth etc. In the remaining 100 hours each
week, I am suggesting that you figure out a way to carve out 10% of them for
you. Just for you. No phone, email, caretaking, problem-solving, listening to
whining, or doing for anyone else but yourself. That comes to about one and a
half hours a day. For you. Repeat you.

 
For your own mental health, which everyone around you seems to rely on, you
are going to have to figure out how to do it. And I’m not talking snatches of time,
five minutes here or there. I’m talking about a solid chunk, a minimum of 30
minutes at a time. If you nap, nap. Meditate, do yoga, whatever rocks your boat.
Or just take whatever book you are longing to read to a coffee shop and have a
cappuccino while you sit there basking in the quiet or chatter or people who are
not depending on you to solve their problems. Start there, and then when you
have more fortitude write me again and we can talk about boundaries and more
levels of self-care.

Shocked and Scared

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I’m devastated and I don’t know how to start repairing my life, which I
may have to start over. This will be complicated but here goes: I’m 35.
I met David my first week of college. We married five years later when
we both headed to Boston for grad school. After grad school we
decided to put off a family until we had each gotten more established
in our careers. I’m a planner and he is a techno-communications
specialist. We got good jobs, bought a house, and casually started
family planning. A few years in, without even one miscarriage we
investigated our apparent non-fertility issues. The problem turned out
to be his low sperm count, and after much agonizing, planning, and
saving, we started a complicated program of in-vitro fertilization.
Amazingly both of the fetuses that we implanted were viable and two
plus years ago we had a pair of fabulous twins (one boy, one girl). Like
most couples with newborns we went through long periods of sleep
deprivation, exacerbated by not only the twin thing but the fact that
David and his best friend had decided to start their own business, a
decision the other wife (not a parent) and I agreed to.

 

The past five years have been a non-stop stress ride, punctuated by
occasional moments of bliss but mostly characterized by stress, tears,
arguments, and lack of sleep. Today David told me that rather than
going for the vasectomy we’d agreed might improve our absent
intimacy, that he’d decided he wasn’t ready, because he might want to
have more children, but not with me!! In the ensuing conversations he
said his “best friend” is a young woman from work whom he hired a
year ago, that he “hasn’t felt close” to me for a very long time, and
that he’s looked into how much alimony/spousal support I might have
to give him!!! Where do I start picking up these pieces????

Shocked and Scared

 
Dear Shocked and Scared:

Not every marriage lasts; far too many do not. That’s not the kiss of
death, but it is a reality you may need to confront. David sounds far
less mature than I’d want for the father of my children, and a much
worse communicator than I’d expect from someone you’ve been
relating to half of your life. Your summary doesn’t sound promising
from a stay-together point of view. But it also doesn’t ensure the
outcome is divorce.

 
The real question is whether both of you want to work on repairing the
marriage and trying to stay together. Even if both people enter
couples counseling with the intention of healing their relationship, the
process may not get them there. But if either or both are just going
through the motions, and secretly have a foot or more already out the
door, then the process is not good investment of time and money.
That said, you should begin by asking your friends for referrals to a
good couples counselor. Refrain from citing all the hurtful things he
has said. Hard but important. If your employer has an EAP (employee
assistance program), you might start ASAP to share aloud the
conversations David’s been having in his head. Listening will be hard
but educational and revealing.

 
In addition to actively trying to understand what he’s thinking, get
your own head and heart into individual counseling. That’ll help you
understand your own values and life priorities. It’s critical that you
don’t go through this next period of your life merely being reactive to
what he brings to the table and what he wants. Your vote counts too.
You should also, gulp, consult a good divorce attorney. That doesn’t
mean you’re going to file. But you do need a brisk and thorough
education on your rights and responsibilities from someone who’d be
prepared to be your advocate. Divorce attorneys have seen this horrid
drama before. They can protect you and reassure you that lives and
hearts torn asunder can also be kept ticking and be legally protected.
There’s potential spousal support at play as well as child support, not
to mention your common assets of a home, savings and/or debts.

 

Mostly you need to know that you haven’t been a blind fool to stay in a
relationship that may now be dying. If you could have anticipated your
current problems you’d have done things to keep them from erupting
as they now have. But you don’t need to feel like a victim of his anger
or unhappiness or your own confusion or shame. Focus on figuring out
what you most want, and then see how close you can get. Not just for
your own sake, but for the kids’. Give healing and reconciliation your
best shot. And know there are many ways in this world to be happy.

Leave Me Alone

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I’m single. I’m happy being single. Everyone I know is married and
thinks I should be too. They keep trying to fix me up on dates, inviting
me to dinner parties, tell me success stories about people who married
later in life and died happily ever, reunited with their lost true loves
from high school, etc etc etc etc etc ad nauseum. I did not have a true
love in high school that I have longed for over the years. Instead, I
supported two deadbeats for the better part of thirty years in two
marriages, thankfully both over, though at great cost. I’ve lived
happily alone for the past ten and travelled, gone on vacations, and
generally had a much happier and more fulfilling life. What my friends
do not know is that I have also been in a mutually consenting friends-
with-benefits relationship with a man whose wife is institutionalized
with Alzheimer’s. Because of our social standing we decided it was
nobody’s business but our own. When people say, with sincerity,
“You’d be sooo much happier with companionship….” and then wink at
me, I want to tell them, but I’ve been quiet. Other than saying “I love
my life,” what can I do?

Leave Me Alone

 
Dear Leave Me Alone:

You’re on the right track with re-inventing your life after two bad
marriages. Many women would crawl into bed and pull the covers over
their head and never go out again. The fact that you are both socially
and sexually active, and seem happy and content is a statement about
your good emotional health and ability to make good choices. That it’s
also good for your wallet is just an added bonus.

 
Tell your friends that you have taken a complete inventory of our life,
from fiscal to sexual. Say that you’re happy with every aspect of your
life, except perhaps needing to lose ten pounds, getting someone to do
your weeding, or finding a better brand of toothpaste. You can change
either of those latter two, but make them playful and distracting. Don’t
put the emphasis on sex, but if they come back with a quizzical inquiry
about you being sexually happy, say that while you’re not a prude you
don’t want to compare bedroom notes with anyone. Try to say that
with a straight face. You might practice this little speech in the
morrow, perhaps after a glass or two of wine. But no matter what,
keep smiling like the Mona Lisa. If they guess at why, you can still
keep mum about whom. And if life changes down the line, they can
dance at your next wedding or just be happy for you.

Once Bitten

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I dated someone for six months last year. It ended with a whimper
after I had surgery, and my desire for intimacy went to zero. He was a
good friend during my recovery process, but made it very clear that he
no longer considered us to be dating after the second month when I
didn’t want to cuddle or kiss. He very quickly got involved with a
woman that his ex-wife introduced him to (and apparently liked a lot
more for than she did me, as she always seemed quite hostile when
we were dating). But when I bumped into him at the market two days
ago, the first thing he said after “Hello!” Was, “I’m single again. Do
you want to get dinner and a movie on Saturday?” I accepted, but I’m
not sure if I should have added, “But only as a friend, nothing more.”
In fact I think he’s a nice enough guy to spend an evening with, but
he’s proven to me that he cares more about having a girlfriend than
being a good partner.

Once Bitten

 
Dear Once Bitten:

Having dinner and seeing a movie does not a relationship reunion
make. If he’s been a decent friend, then treat him as one, and assume
that his interest is that of a single person looking for companionship,
not automatically a hookup. If he asks you explicitly if you have ever
or would ever reconsider rekindling your relationship, you can answer
truthfully. But in the absence of that question, you should assume that
his news about being single is just that, news, not an invitation to get
back together.

 
If he does ask, and you do decline, he may ask why not. Then you can
choose to be diplomatic or brutally honest. If you value the friendship,
I’d counsel some form of discretion, and an answer that lands
somewhere near I think we are better as friends. Truth is he may
vanish again once he meets the next willing gal.

Second Life

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I have a relationship question that is long-run not short. I’ve been with
my new girlfriend and (I hope) eventual wife for two years. She
started dating me even though I wasn’t fully divorced. And slowly but
surely it has become a strong loving relationship. The problem is that
her 14-year old daughter still refuses to accept me. The ex is a pot-
smoking, guitar-playing, rock-star wanna be who doesn’t get that at
age 45 his chance for fame and glory is long past. But his daughter
adores him. I’m older than any of them and within three years of
retirement from a very high stress job I can’t wait to leave. The
daughter is smart but not get a scholarship brilliant. There has been
no discussion of adoption given her age. And I am happy to help out
with college costs in addition to my usual monthly household
contribution. But I am not eager to prolong my work life misery for a
young woman who treats me with scorn. I know it sounds early but
how can I explain my needs without further alienating her?

Second Life

 
Dear Second Life:

Relationships grow and change over time. It’s the rare parent, even a
bio parent, who has a great relationship with a teenager. And with my
advice I’m am in no way advocating that ant offer of support you make
be seen as a bribe to get her to appreciate you more or treat you
better. That said, be as honest and transparent as you can with both
mother and daughter.

 
Explain that your current level of financial support for the household
will go on even after you retire in three years. Say that you are willing
to contribute towards college costs in addition, but not to work longer
to contribute more. Say that when the daughter does apply to schools
she can count on a firm commitment from you of $x thousand per year
for a specified number of years. Explain that the only criteria are on
going civility and maintaining a specified grade level. Be clear that the
support will end if she drops out, does poorly, or treats her mother or
you with disrespect. Nothing may change or time and familiarity may
improve things. But you can proceed with a clear conscience.

Too Picky?

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

Is there ever a good way to break up with someone? We’ve been
dating for six months and there is absolutely nothing wrong with this
guy. He’s funny, smart, kind, considerate, financially independent, and
good in bed. On paper, he is exactly what I have said I am looking for
in a new partner, and certainly far ahead of the curve on either of my
previous mates or the guys I have dated between and since them.
What’s the problem? I’m bored. I know it’s not a fancy or dramatic
reason to want to end a relationship. But after six months I feel like
we’ve been together for six years, and I mean six years non-stop
locked a room and can’t breathe. The conversations are flat, the
stories repetitive, and any of “the incredible lightness of being” that I
have felt before when I fell in love with someone seems not just
elusive but remote. There’s no sense of yearning, no sense of
excitement, and the old-robe- and-slippers familiarity is stifling. If I feel
that now, what would happen in a year or four? I’m not getting any
younger and can’t afford to waste too long with the wrong guy.

Too Picky?

 
Dear Too Picky:

You left out loyal and kind from your list of descriptors. There are
hundreds of women who would race a moving train to be in your
situation. And while I am empathetic at your longing for the romantic
ideal, most lives are lived at a simpler, and yes often boring, pace.
Embrace the relationship for what it is: solid and reliable. Suggest that
you surprise one another with alternating responsibility for surprise
adventures. Enroll in a tango class. Or a cooking class. Or lean to play
an instrument or foreign language together. Commit to a volunteer
effort where you will assist those whose lives make yours look like
paradise. And if you are really ready to toss away a safe but boring
relationship, tell your honey you want to date other people. But please
don’t write me six months from now and tell me there are no good
people to date.

Cat Woman

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I’m six months into a new relationship. It is friendly and compatible
and I think could last for a while. But the new honey just got a puppy,
right before he’s headed away to see his family (I’m not yet ready to
be introduced) and before he has a series of three-day workshop
trainings to conduct. Somehow he got the impression that I would be
just fine having an un-housebroken puppy stay at my house with my
aging cat, or, barring that, that I would be willing to sleep at his place
while he is away, so the puppy’s training and bonding process can
continue uninterrupted. My responses, in order, are No, Thanks.,
Thanks, No., and What are you kidding? Am I being selfish (his
charge) or reasonable (my response)?

Cat Woman

 
Dear Cat Woman:

I can understand his reluctance to take a sweet new puppy and pop
him/her in and out of a vet or boarding kennel, especially one that has
not yet had all the appropriate shots. But assuming that a girlfriend
would be willing to assume full care seems presumptuous. There are
professionals who provide these kinds of services, and that’s who he
should consult, or a different friend who is dog-oriented and willing.
Only you can decide if you are willing to put your relationship on the
line for this. But assuming without asking and respecting your
boundaries doesn’t signal a good long-term fit for domestic harmony
among the two, three, or four of you.

Ex and Happy About It

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

What’s the break-up etiquette for returning items that were left ay
one’s now ex’s house while we were being intimate? I have a variety of
his items at my place, as does he of mine. Some are of a personal
nature, and others are as varied as clothing and a ukulele. We are
saying we want to stay friends, after six months as lovers. I suspect
he has already started to date again, and that the “let’s be friends”
phase will be short, as in it will last only until I have been formally
replaced, after a dating process that a mutual friend has implied has
already begun with a bang.

Ex and Happy About It

 
Dear Ex/Happy:

If you can handle the exchange with humor and equanimity you might
be able to find and enjoy the irony, perhaps even to recall why you
were sharing those items in the first place. You will, however, need to
resist the temptation to ask about his social life, no matter how blatant
the conversational opportunities are. Being able to be friends with an
ex is an art form. For longer lasting relationships it can be harder,
because people have tended to let resentments build up.  But the
alternative is tossing the items and the friendship, which seems like a
waste.
 
As long as things are amicable, suggest a coffee meeting “for a
hostage exchange to share back the things that’ve been living at each
others’ houses.” I’m sure he’ll be relieved that you brought it up,
because there’s nothing more awkward than having a new flame ask,
“Whose is this???……”

Single Again

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

What’s an appropriate birthday gift for someone you have been dating
for two months? I like this woman and can imagine continuing the date
her. But I’m not in love or even committed to dating only her. Her
birthday is two weeks away. She just handed me a flyer for a special
foodie event: a seven-course dinner with wine pairings, at $80 a
person! I was planning on getting her a gift and taking her out for
dinner, but not for $200. What’s a polite way to decline but not make
her think I don’t like her? I should add that my ex always said I was
cheap, but I think I am pragmatic about money, not a spendthrift.

Single Again

 
Dear Single Again:

I think you politely say, Gee that looks like a wonderful thing to do
with one of your foodie friends. I had other plans in mind. Then you
follow through with a gift and a nice meal. And you continue to date
her, and whomever else you want. If this is a way to ascertain what
values you share (or don’t) around money, hooray for a quick and
cheap way to find out.

The Wife

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

For years my husband has flirted with another woman. It started in
complete fun when we met socially (both friends of the same friend).
It was clear he and she had a lot in common: both from Philadelphia,
Penn grads, funny, smart, sexy, and great people who care a lot about
others. He and I have been together for twenty years, and to others it
may seem like a tumultuous relationship. We have survived
bankruptcy, house remodels, miscarriages, and job losses. We fight
and we make up. It is intense, but also very honest and loving. We
have been in counseling and always agreed we want to stay together.
She has been a good friend to both of us, helping with job shifts and
giving us free legal advice. But the flirting has finally gotten to me. I
know nothing will ever happen, because she is a happily married
lesbian, and he has never come close to cheating on me. Our sex life is
great and has helped us through the hard times. But after years of
double entendres, winks, and jokes no one else in the room seems to
get, I want to shift how they play together. Am I just being a jealous
wife or is it okay to say something? To whom, when, and how?

The Wife

 
Dear Wife:

You say it simply and as often as it takes. You say it when people are
drinking wine, and when they are drinking coffee. You say it when the
three of you are alone, and in front of other friends. You say it
seriously and you say it joking. No matter when, where, and how you
say it, you make clear that there’s they need to cross back over the
line. You can and should also say that to your husband in private,
explaining that it is both hurtful and embarrassing.

 
There’s a difference between teasing, playfulness, and outright flirting,
Your line may have to do with language or touching, but be prepared
to give some playful examples. You can say their “show” is too blatant,
even boring. Challenge them to be subtler rather than continue as
things are. What will be important is your clarity, and the fact that you
are simple, clear, and consistent, as opposed to shaming, nagging,
and hurt. That’s not to say it’s not okay to be hurt. But you’re more
likely to make your point and get your way if you engage them in new
behaviors rather than fighting off the old ones. You’re unlikely to turn
them into quiet prudes, so set your line closer to where you are likely
to succeed.

Compromiser, Not Fighter

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I was a single mother after my divorce for twenty years. I dated, I
hooked up, and then I decided I wanted to find the right guy. I am
mid-fifties though look younger, and a well-educated professional. I
didn’t want an old fuddy-duddy but rather someone to build a life with.
With Martin that mean relocation (I was happy to end my job and find
a new city) and adjusting to different politics and life decisions. But for
the most part we are happy. But he is a vet with PTSD and poor
communications skills. In decorating our new house, he says,
“Whatever you want.” But when I express a point of view that is not
what he has proposed, as in something as small as a different paint
color or tile pattern, he just turns on a dime and says “Never mind, do
whatever you want!” and walks out. I love this man and want to be
happy with him. How can we learn to disagree without it becoming a
major argument every time?

Compromiser, not Fighter

 
Dear Compromiser:

Every relationship has issues, and every relationship develops
patterns. Some can be good and healing. But others, especially in the
realm of communications, can lay an unsound foundation that will, in
the tough times that every life includes, make it much more difficult to
feel like you are on the same team in life. I am ignorant where PTSD
fits into the picture or pattern, and assume and suggest that he be
treated by whatever interventions are available and helpful. My advice
is limited to household and much smaller problems of daily living.
It’s important that you both acknowledge the interaction is fractious,
unpleasant, and not how you genuinely feel about one another.
Assuming that’s true, you don’t need to start at a marriage counselor.
But if you try some techniques that do not work, it’s worth considering
a couples’ counselor for even a few sessions. What seems big to you is
routine to them, and they may have fixes you can’t imagine. In the
interim, try starting with a conversation over a good meal. Say you
want to work on communication and have two ideas. First, whenever
you are making a decision, each of you should get 2-5 minutes to lay
out your case without interruption, with the other listening and not
interrupting. Then a discussion until you make a decision you can both
live with. Second, identify a code word, something unlikely to be part
of your normal conversation. Something silly like Pineapple! Tofu! Or a
word likely to elicit a laugh is good. Saying it translates to I think
we’re about to enter our bad communications place. Can we sit down
for fifteen minutes and talk things out (using method number one)?
Keep trying this until you learn to talk to one another or agree you
need external help.

Not a Fan(atic)

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I’m in a marvelous new relationship. My sweetie and I have great fun
together, and many of the same hobbies. When we connected in
spring he told me that he was a football fan. Now, no matter what I
suggest that we plan to do or buy tickets for, he says “I’m not sure if I
am going to be free, and I won’t know until the networks decide on
game time.” We have clarified that his blackout times are not every
Monday and Thursday nights and all day/night on Saturday/Sunday,
but rather limited to his alma mater, which is also the local team in
our college town. They mostly play on Saturdays, but are now good
enough that the timing changes from morning to night depending on
the week, and often just days before the game. I find it somewhat
disconcerting to come in second to a televised sporting event,
especially one that could be taped and watched much more efficiently
without commercials. He says the fun is in the suspense of watching it
live, and doesn’t want to risk knowing what happened. The one thing I
do know is that this town is like a morgue when they lose and a party
when they win. I’ve even seen people sneaking peeks at game updates
in services. Oy!

Not a Fan(atic)

 
Dear Not A Fan(atic):

You love the relationship and your sweetie. But you have the right to
be able to make plans for a weekend without worrying about the TV,
the team, or your sweetie’s preference for a pig’s skin to your own, at
least between September and December. This is a perfect time to set
boundaries and recalibrate expectations. If it works it will strengthen
the relationship. If it doesn’t, you will know what you are choosing, or
declining.

 
Sit down with a drink and with your calendar, your sweetie, and your
sweetie’s calendar. Have the football schedule on a screen in front of
you. Ask if there are any Saturday games s/he would be willing to
miss, or are sure to be played early enough in the day that you could
plan an evening together. Mark those on both your calendars. Then,
for the weekends that are Saturday blackout dates for your sweetie,
ask when would be a better time to have a date. Friday? Sunday?
Both? Neither? Once those are established and written in both your
calendars, announce that you are now unavailable on the Saturday
evenings where the TV schedule and his team have first dibs. Say you
plan to make other dates with friends, and that you hope the two of
you are getting along well enough after football ends that you’ll go
back to being regular Saturday dates. Say you have no hard feelings,
but you don’t want to have to dance around the TV and team. Unless
you hate football completely, you could offer to join in for beer, chips,
and a particularly hot rivalry gamey. You might find you enjoy it more
than you like.