Every summer, prior to season kickoff, the football team sets goals. Sets expectations. What they want and need to accomplish if they are to have a winning season.
Expectations, when met, make a good team into a great one.
The reason I’m wrangling this metaphor is because I just read a post from a football wife asking for some support and advice. Her husband has been gone all summer — from sunup till way-past sundown every day, and the season has yet to begin. This wife is feeling neglected and alone. She needed a sounding board and some legitimate suggestions on how to broach the subject with her husband. She got both from most. But not from all. From one wife, she got something else entirely.
One wife of a football coach told another wife of a football coach to have zero expectations and then she won’t be disappointed.
And that rankles me, y’all. Bad.
It gets me all sorts of riled up. Blood-pressure-through-the-roof, expletive-laden, all sorts of riled up. Because what did she really just tell that wife?
She told her that she comes last. That she doesn’t deserve her man’s love, respect, or time. That her needs aren’t important. Quite simply, that she’s not important.
She regurgitated the debilitating dogma that society has fed women since forever: Support your man. Hold down the fort. Love and look after him when he’s around. Miss him when he’s gone. And expect nothing in return. Then… if you get more than that… well… go you!
Now, if y’all know me, you know my history, and you know exactly how I feel when somebody tells a woman she shouldn’t have expectations. You can pretty much guess what came out of my mouth. And it wasn’t pretty. (But it was pretty French.)
As women, we deserve more. As wives… in a marriage… a partnership… a team, if you will… we absolutely deserve more.
Women are so much more than helpmate and safe harbor. We are so much more than simple cisterns to be filled with our man’s hopes, desires, and offspring — contrary to centuries of saying otherwise.
Women have voices and women have value.
And as partners in our marriages we should have expectations. And those expectations should be met. Even in a football marriage. Especially in a football marriage.
Both of you want to win — at football and at marriage. If you didn’t, neither one of you would have gotten involved with either marriage or football. (And tell the truth, football wives, you knew what you were getting into when you married him. Well, for the most part you knew.) And because you both willingly signed up for this crazy life, you’re both now shouldering an insane amount of responsibility.
He’s shouldering the needs of a full squad of teenaged boys with all their adolescent edges and angst. And he’s balancing the demands of a season-full of practice and bus and meal and game schedules. Plus carrying the ungodly stress of parental and community politics. And he doesn’t come home until he’s put it all to bed. Well after dark. Till the field house is quiet and calm. Deceptively so. The weight of it all can be unbearable.
And you’re balancing and carrying and shouldering, too. Everything else. Jobs, hearth, home, kids. All the study and practice and play and bath and story and bed times. Plus the ungodly stress of all the tantrums and fistfights and set-it-all-right politics. And he doesn’t come home until you’ve put it all to bed. Well after dark. Till the house is quiet and calm. Deceptively so. The weight of it all can be unbearable.
It’s easy to get resentful. On both sides. Because from each respective side, it appears the other has it easier. Well, guess what? Neither has it easy.
To keep our marriage healthy and happy, my guy and I BOTH have expectations. As we should.
Mine are simple, but effective: Communication and Kisses.
Communication is my bread and butter. It sustains me. Before the day begins, we have breakfast. Together. Always. It’s my special 20 minutes of “Just Us” time while the boys are still in bed. Cereal, coffee and simple chit-chat — my fuel for the day.
Then he sends me little texts as power snacks all day long. And for lunch, sweet love notes on my sandwich bag. He makes all the lunches — it’s just one way he helps lighten my load. That plus laundry — preloaded in a delay cycle a couple times a week. (I hit the jackpot with my coach. He exceeds my expectations. Constantly.)
And then there’s the kisses. Lots and lots of kisses. At wake up. Before leaving for work. With emojis on the phone. And real ones when he gets home. Always before games. And always after games.
Always and forever, lots and lots of kisses. Without them, I more-than-sort- of-self-destruct. It’s well documented. So he gives me plenty.
Plenty of communication and kisses. It’s on the game plan.
And as for his expectations, they’re a whole lot of the same — especially, believe it or not, the communication part. Because if I don’t tell him when something’s bothering me or something’s not working, he’ll spend all sorts of time he doesn’t have trying to fix it — totally blind. And that’s not fair to either one of us.
Yes, football and marriage are team sports. And for the team to get stronger and for the game to go well, each member needs their expectations set and then met. That’s what makes a good team into a great one.
And everybody wins. Everybody.