Is Football Killing Your Relationship?
If you're coupled up, fall heralds a time of cozy sweaters, pumpkin spiced lattes, and the sneaky, insidious creep of another woman into your relationship: Football. With college games and the pros taking up a solid three days of the week (and don't even get us started on SportsCenter!) it's no surprise if your feelings and libido start to feel a little neglected. We had a chat with board-certified interventionist Brad Lamm about how to make sure your dude's life has time for you and the pigskin.
Real Beauty: Firstly, what's the difference between an interventionist and a therapist?
Brad Lamm: I only work with groups. A recent one had an ex-boyfriend, a godmother, and a former employer. I like eight to ten people because there's strength in numbers, but if there's more than a dozen, it can get unruly. I did a mafia intervention last year, and they really scared me. I only do invitational interventions, so you invite the person to their own intervention. Sometimes it's like wrangling cats, but I really think I'm just the luckiest guy.
RB: Interesting! What was your background?
BL: I was a weatherman in D.C. And a meth addict and an alcoholic and a two-pack-a-day smoker. I was just a big mess, but got clean and sober.
RB: That's amazing! In regards to football causing strife in relationships, what do you think is the biggest problem for couples?
BL: It's really about a couple trying to find balance. A lot of women just aren't going to be interested, and the truth is that the spouse who feels dis-included should find something else to take up their time, not put on a cloak of interest. If you're trying to fake it we all know how faking it turns out. You end up not being fulfilled, not being pleased, and you cop a resentment about it.
Start a dialogue. Sometimes it's really hard to talk about sex, finances, and fantasy football, so muster up the courage and start, "Honey, when you ______, I feel ______." I believe in the spoken word, so have a real conversation and stay off the iPhone or Blackberry.
RB: What if a woman genuinely is interested in being involved or learning more?
BL: Don't ask to the join the boyfriend's team. Facebook provides so many opportunities for this: Find a gaggle of gals and your own Fantasy league to jump into. Get started, build your knowledge base, and have fun with it in your own way. It becomes another way you can connect with each other at the end of that day, and that's what we love about relationships.
RB: And what if a woman could care less about football but just wants to re-claim some of her time with the TV?
BL: Boundaries go with a ball game. Often couples will think the other person is a mind-reader so they get ticked off if their schedule isn't adhered to, but they haven't even shared it with their loved ones. Talk about your expectations. If you expect your guy to be a clairvoyant and history proves he's not a board-registered psychic, both of you will get disappointed and unhappy. If the games are really becoming a time vacuum, it's fair to have a conversation about, "When you do this, I feel neglected." Once you make a boundary or schedule, stick with it.
RB: What if you've sat through the last few seasons without complaining and finally can't take it anymore?
BL: One of the tricks I love to introduce to couples and families is specifically saying, "What did you hear me say?" I can say something I think is really clear, and I'll see someone's eyes glaze over or they'll answer a totally different question. Some days our ears work better than others, and sometimes old habits die hard.
RB: Is feigning interest bad or good?
BL: Give it a good shot. Act as if you're a football fan and try it for the season. Listen, if you think you're going to be with the person for awhile, like a lifetime, what's a single season? Once you've put time into it and gotten a lot of info, you can decide if you really like it. Acting "as if" lets us do something we wouldn't normally do.
RB: And any last parting words of wisdom?
BL: (Laughing.) Have a safe word. Seriously! Sometimes in interventions the ridiculousness of a situation calls for a little humor. I'll challenge a couple to have a safe word, one they wouldn't normally use like "cantaloupe." You say, "Honey, when I think it's too much, I'll use my safe word." Humor is just such a great equalizer, and it helps us cope. Go put something sexy on and say "cantaloupe." Grab the hammer if you need help with something around the house and say "cantaloupe." Just laugh, smile, and put yourself in that relationship even if you don't feel like are.
We can't underestimate the value of humor in helping love last, and sometimes the heart of compromise is the ability to laugh. When you fall in love and into bed at the end of a long day, we remember love, and humor, and sex, and connectiveness. It's so much better than trying to remember all the crap that happens in our life.