My husband wants to coach baseball for six months of the year, which involves a 4-6 day a week investment of time (evenings and weekends), as he’s done for the last 19 years. I don’t want to be a baseball widow any more, with all the downside it entails (house not getting worked on, him not available for normal, every day stuff, etc.). We don’t even have any kids on the team he’s coaching (we have no kids at all).
Question 1: Is a 4-6 day a week commitment to a hobby too much for someone in a committed relationship? I obviously think it is, he obviously doesn’t.
Question 2: Am I being unreasonable to expect my husband to be home more nights than he’s at baseball?
Question 3: Is he being unreasonable to expect any woman to put up with a hobby that takes this much time?
Question 4: What do we do to solve this? His quitting the team makes him unhappy, which makes me unhappy. His continuing his extreme commitment makes me unhappy, which makes him unhappy. The obvious solution is his reducing his commitment to coaching, but as he accurately puts it, he can’t coach if he’s not there. Are we overlooking something here? Suggestions?
This is what I would look at: would he be the man you loved if he didn’t want to coach this baseball team? Are the qualities that endear him to you at home the ones that drive him to the field? In a few relationship todos, that guidance has really helped me. For instance, my husband’s open-handed, open-hearted hospitality has driven me crazy on more than one specific occasion when he has extended that hospitality when I wouldn’t have. On the other hand, that quality is essential to a lot of the other qualities I find essential in him, and so I have to accept the package.
Next, it doesn’t matter what is a reasonable commitment for other people, what matters is what is reasonable to you. You aren’t average people, it doesn’t matter what the average is. If the only thing you really need in a relationship is someone to wear purple and pink polka-dotted trousers around the house at least six times a week, then that’s fine, you are allowed to demand it. Of course, the other person is allowed to leave if they don’t consider that demand to be worth it.
Finally, there is going to have to be a compromise here. This is clearly a big part of his life, and he’s getting something he needs from it. I spend at least 4-6 hours a week outside of work with my students/school activities, and I couldn’t give it up for love or money. Even when it sucks, it’s pure pleasure, and it’s an essential part of who I am. If it’s like that with your husband, asking him to just . . .stop . . . .is not going to work. Can he cut back? Get a co-coach? Start passing the torch, with the idea that he will retire completely in five years? Is he starting to get tired of it at all? (Kids do wear you out).
I think that amount of time away is unreasonable for most people. OTOH, if that defines who he is and is a key part of who he is then it is unreasonable for you to force him to do something differently and it won’t work out well to force him to stop. It seems to be a case of being unhappy with the situation rather than the person. I am sure you wouldn’t mind him doing it if he could magically be in two places at once. Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like there is a good solution in this case.
Female, not in a committed relationship, so take my opinions with an appropriately sized grain of salt.
Question 1: If you knew he had this committment before you got involved with him, then it is unreasonable to ask him to give it up. 19 years of this committment trumps X years of your relationship.
I don’t think there is a one size fits all hobbies or relationship answer to this question.
Question 2: Unreasonable to expect him to be home more evenings than he’s out? In principle no, in practice–maybe. This is a hefty committment to back away from.
Question 3: Is he being unreasonable? Maybe, but I know a woman who allowed her husband to follow his dream of making a living playing golf when he retired from the army after 20 years. A few years later, and a few major adjustments later, she’s enjoying the greatest stability (in the sense of not moving all the time) in their married life, and only complaining a little about his love of golf.
So, while most women might agree with you, there likely exist women who want a man who is only around part time-- or would rather have a man who had a hobby like coaching rather than golf, computer games, watching TV, drinking, gambling or some other activity.
Question 4: I think the thing which you are overlooking–or at least not mentioning-- is the possibility of getting you more involved so that you don’t miss him when he’s gone. Either you help coach the team, or you get involved with knitting classes, or you take a part time job in the evenings–which allows you to hire someone to come in and do some of these chores he doesn’t have time for when coaching or something. This may not be a good suggestion, but it is something worth thinking about-- would you be happier with his committment if you had something that called to you the way his coaching does to him?
Certainly the idea of having him spend less time coaching seems like a reasonable compromise to me–but I have a feeling that that suggestion makes him feel like he’s the only one giving up anything of importance.
I agree. Why bring it up now? You’re certainly entitled to your feelings on the matter but what has changed in the last 19 years that suddenly makes this a major issue?
I don’t think anyone but you and your husband can determine what is ‘reasonable’. What is reasonable for some couples might be unreasonable for others, but the point is that you come to a mutual understanding on the matter. It sounds to me like you have not been communicating about this issue much over the last two decades, and by issue I mean your feelings about him being away, not the fact he’s coaching baseball.
What’s the real issue here? Do you feel alone? Are you worried about practical things not being taken care of? Can you maybe find a compromise that allows both of you to have your needs met, say a date night twice a month and have him hire someone to take care of the work around the house or something?
For one, as others have said, you knew this was a part of his life and - althought it isn’t unreasonable for you to want your time- it is unreasonable for you to expect him to give up something that means so much to him.
Now, as I’ve mentioned before, I help coach highschool debate. Highschool debate takes a lot of time- hours after school each day, Friday night get togethers to practice, tournaments are 12+ hours on Satudays (and that’s in town- if it’s out of town the coach is gone from Thursday to Monday morning). Needless to say, this causes some marital trouble for some folks, but let me tell you: the coaches that are most happy and have the most healthy relationships all have one thing in common- the spouse also tries to help out with debate.
Don’t get me wrong, many of the spouses couldn’t care less about debate, but they care about spending time with the person they love. I’ve also noticed that this makes the coaches VERY happy because the person they love is showing an interesting in something they love.
I was also going to suggest that maybe you could find something for you to do - baseball related or not - to occupy some of the time while he is coaching. It’s a difficult situation - if you try to force him to quit something he doesn’t want to give up, he may be resentful and that can make itself shown in many ways.
There are many activities you could look into - art classes, volunteer work, classes at a local college - something that you want to do for you.
And try to make sure that on the nights he isn’t coaching you spend time together, not necessarily doing chores.
If this shoe doesn’t fit, don’t wear it, but looking at it from his point of view—is it at all possible that he doesn’t want to spend more time at home, perhaps because when he is home, you find work for him to do that he doesn’t particularly want to be doing?
My wife and I had a similar situation shortly after we became a couple. I drove race cars and this took just about as much time away from home as coaching baseball. Every weekend from April through September was spent as a race track somewhere and most nights were spent getting the cars ready for the next weekend. I cut back to a partial schedule but this did not help much. I still didn’t have the time to get involved with family and kids activities and the racing I did do suffered from the part time schedule. I quit racing altogether and looking back, it was the right decision. I still miss it, especially watching racing at the local short tracks. The nearest race track closed down a few years ago and I haven’t been near one since. I am busy with the kids and grandkids and when the racing jones hits, I fire up my NASCAR game on my computer and go racing against Earnhardt Jr. and rest.
The only part I feel comfortable advising on is that yes, as a couple you should pay to get someone to do the chores he’s not doing. Any economist will tell you that this is an “opportunity cost” of his choice to coach. It’s not something he should ignore or push off on you. If that means coaching is unaffordable, then it’s unaffordable.
I kind of second the getting involved in his hobby idea, except I find baseball mind-numbingly boring. There really is no way I could do that personally. If you find it interesting or enjoyable at all, though, it seems like a good idea.
I should clarify that we’ve been together for six years, and while he was coaching when we met, we discussed his coaching commitments very early on, and he assured me that they wouldn’t interfere with our lives. Well, they are. I agree that when you take someone as a mate, you take all of them, but I feel like a bit of a bait-and-switch was pulled here - I know that I want someone who has lots of time for me, I made that requirement excruciatingly clear early on when it would have been easy for either of us to end it, and that requirement is not being met. I realize that life isn’t fair, and people aren’t perfect; that’s why I’m trying to find a solution, instead of just giving up.
I don’t think I can go for the idea that he coaches too much, so I should get involved with baseball too, and that will solve the problem. To me, that sounds like saying the resolution for a problem with infidelity is that the other member of the couple should go screw around, too.
I don’t think his behavior warrants a correlation with cheating. What you’ve said here sounds like you’ve already got your mind made up that he’s the one doing wrong and you’re looking for validation that you’re right. That’s not what it sounded like in your OP. If you’re not open to compromise I don’t see either of you winding up happy in the long run.
Well, that depends on what, exactly, the problem is.
Is the problem that he promised coaching wouldn’t interfere and it is? Then it’s a trust problem. Baseball for you won’t help. Counseling for both of you to work on the trust issues in your relationship might. But begin by remembering that we all view the world differently. Baseball may not be interfering with his vision of your relationship. This could indicate an even bigger problem in the relationship - moving into the “we’re looking for different things out of our marriage” territory. Definitely counseling time.
Is the problem that household chores are not getting done? Then, as suggested above, you might consider hiring someone to do chores, and it seems perfectly appropriate that he help pay for that.
Is the problem that you miss his company? Then perhaps hanging out with him, doing stuff around his baseball team, might solve that.
Is the problem that you’re bored when he’s not around and you need something to do? Then go do something, baseball or otherwise.
Is the problem that you hate baseball? Why do you hate baseball, featherlou? Why do you hate America?
I’m 62 years old, single, and I’ve had this problem myself which led to two divorces, both my fault. I’m also aware of two women, both of whom I’d love to share a life with, but both are still married to husbands who have this same problem–inordinate amount of time devoted to something outside the family/kids/marriage.
My personal experience and a shared experience from talking to two wives in your position(but who are much older)—
It won’t get any better. racer72 sounds like in his post that he’s one of the lucky ones. He broke free. But I doubt that most guys can.
And forget about the people that say you understood what you were getting yourself in for–there’s no freakin’ way that you can know what you’re getting into before you’re married. Maybe some lucky few can, but I’m telling you that most people can’t. Either he’ll promise that he’ll change or you’ll tell yourself that he will, but, at the end of the day, he won’t. Again, some lucky few can. The vast majority can NOT.
It’s no one’s fault. It’s just part of life. I only hope you won’t still be there after 25 years of marriage, angry, resentful, depressed, and alone.
I hope that he can truly change. My life experience doesn’t offer much encouragement that he can. At least you’re confronting this now rather than after you’ve sublimated your life to his.
I love baseball. I mean, I really, really love baseball. Anyone who’s been around here knows how much I love baseball, but trust me, the fact that I participate in every baseball thread and spent time putting together detailed posts does not really give the denizens of the SDMB an accurate idea of how much I love baseball. I think about baseball every hour of every day. I love playing baseball. I love watching baseball. I love coaching baseball. I love umpiring baseball. I love reading about baseball. I love watching movies about baseball. I love playing baseball video games. I LOVE baseball.
But there’s no way I would spent four to six evenings or weekend days away from my family for the sake of baseball. That’s just not the right way for a family man to prioritize his time. But that said, I don’t miss doing baseball things when I’m with my family, 'cause I like my family even more than baseball.
Frankly, this sounds like you’re reaching for reasons for this not to be resolved any way except by him changing his ways.
My first thought, like others here, was you should get involved in his passion too, or get one of your own. You equating that with being unfaithful is very revealing; my read is that you actually hate him doing this just as if he were being unfaithful, that is that you resent it rather than rejoicing that he is getting so much pleasure out of it. Resenting your life-partner’s main love in his life (apart from you, of course!) is *not *a good sign. I too wonder if there’s something else going on in your life to make this issue suddenly so prominent.
Are you childless by free choice of you both? Or is there some history here, are you perhaps hearing a clock ticking? Your parents putting pressure on you maybe? Just guessing, here …
Is he there for you the times he is not coaching? Or is he working on his own projects?
I think your infidelity analogy is a good one, actually. The problem with cheating is not the sex, it is the broken committment, the love promised to the partner that goes to another. Being too involved with something else outside the house is similar. Some couples have no problems with this, pretty much all have to deal with it some time. But it does put stress on a marriage, and it just doesn’t seem necessary.
featherlou, I can appreciate your point-of-view. I would want to wring his neck. But you know the drill. You have to look at the situation as it really is.
I will bet that you did lay it on the line and that he swore that it wouldn’t be a problem. That was then. This is now.
I doubt that it was bait and switch. It usually isn’t. Like us, they have the best of intentions, but their needs change. I’ve thought for a long time that our wedding vows should be, “I take these men to be my lawfully wedded husband…” That’s what we marry – all the men they will become. We have no idea what we are getting into and vice versa.
So I wouldn’t hold it too much against him that his needs have changed. He didn’t mean for them to, but they have.
So baseball is a harsh mistress. He doesn’t love you less. He just loves himself more when he is able to coach. He loves life. It’s not very fulfilling for you, but if you love him you know exactly how to make him happy: encourage him to coach. What you are actually doing, of course, is encouraging him to make himself happy. That is the most loving thing you can do for anyone.
That includes yourself. You have to learn how to make yourself happy. It’s not that you are being at all unreasonable. You’re not. Your husband is. But that’s the way he is. If you love him and want to be with him the amount of time he allows, then you have to learn how to genuinely fill your days with the kind of creativity and “adventure” that pleases you the way that baseball pleases him. Don’t just do it to pass the time. Be fully you. You really are rather extraordinary.
There are other options and if one of them speaks to you more loudly than what I am saying, then you know what to do.