Football Wife: Reluctant Cheerleader

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I met my husband in December 2010, right after he finished the football season. Our courtship moved quickly and we married eight months later in July 2011. While we dated, he told me stories about coaching and he tried to make me understand what the time commitment was all about. I thought I understood, but I was so naïve.

Newton

Our first season involved a lot of tears, a lot of arguments, and I wrestled with resentment.  I attended all the home games, and I cheered as loud as I could with everybody else, but the games left me exhausted- especially after I had worked all week. I don’t like large crowds, and I am a total introvert, so I had trouble connecting with the other coaches wives and girlfriends.

My resentment was compounded by anger over the fact that my was gone all the time, and the small stipend he receives for being head coach is laughable.  The anger wasn’t about money.  It was about the fact that no one seems to recognize how football takes over his life.  And mine.   I felt guilt about my anger and resentment, and that didn’t help.  

Our second season was a little bit easier because I wasn’t blindsided with shock. I at least knew what to expect.  Now we’re heading into our third season, and I must admit I still struggle with all these emotions.  

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m immensely proud of my husband and what he does.  I love that he loves the game, his players, and his coaching staff.  He is passionate about his work, and not a lot of people can say that.

I can’t pretend to have it all figured out.  But I feel like I’ve come up with a couple strategies to help get through it.  Perhaps some of them will be useful for you, too.

Set boundaries

During our first season, I tried to attend too many football events. I went to the early morning Saturday scrimmages, and a late-night scouting trip.   I went to the coaches-only “after party,” the end-of-the-year awards ceremony, and the Thursday night team dinners.  It was too much.  I was exhausted and miserable.  I cried all the time, and I was awkward at football events because I was so overwhelmed and tired.  

So during our second season I only attended games.   If I was feeling particularly tired on a game night because I had worked all day and then cleaned house, I stayed home and rested. I decided I had to take care of myself or my bitterness would increase.  

Seek understanding

Football is complicated.  I don’t always understand it.  Sometimes I think my husband should be managing his team a certain way.  But in reality, I don’t have a clue how to run a football team.  I used to think he was unorganized, or just didn’t care that his schedule was inconvenient to us.  But when I feel that way, I’ve learned to ask why (in a nice tone, not accusatory) he does things the way he does them.  He can usually explain it in a way I’d never thought about.  I probably still won’t like the schedule, but at least I’ll understand why things are the way they are.  

Get Outside Help if Necessary

After our first season, we briefly saw a couples counselor together.  She helped me express some of my frustrations in a way my husband could understand, and she helped me understand how my bad attitude was negatively affecting my husband.  My frustrations didn’t disappear, but at least I felt like my husband finally understood, and he knew I was working on trying to change.

These days, we each occasionally see a counselor individually and he helps us work through some of the anxieties and negative emotions that come up during football season.  

Take Care of Yourself

It’s so easy to let things like exercise, proper nutrition, and adequate rest go out the door during football season.  I struggle so much with this, and I don’t even have children.  I can’t image how mothers- especially mothers who work outside the home- fit everything in.  But if we want to be at our best emotionally, we need to take care of ourselves physically.  The goal is not perfection, but creating healthy routines that can get us through stressful times.

Give Grace

We have to learn to be easy on ourselves and on our husbands.  I try to give my husband the benefit of the doubt, and I remember all the pressure that’s on him.  When I mess up and have a bad attitude about football, I’ll ask for forgiveness and move on.  There’s no value in comparing myself to the other coaches’ wives, or beating myself up with guilt.  

I’ve realized that I will never be a coach’s wife who has the entire team over for dinner at my house.  I won’t spend my spare time baking treats for the players, and I sure won’t be doing the laundry when the team washer breaks!  I know many of you do those types of things, and I think it’s fantastic that you support your husband that way.  But I’m happier (and so is my husband!) when my involvement is limited to showing up for most games and being a sounding board for my husband when he’s home.  It works for us, and I’m glad we’re figuring things out- slowly, but surely.

What about you?  Are you hands-on or hands-off when it comes to your involvement?  How have you handled seasons of resentment and anger towards football?

 

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13 Comments

  1. awesome…thank you so much for this post. I feel as though you got inside my head and my life.

    Reply
    • I’m glad you resonated with it, Kim. It’s nice to know there are other women who are still in the middle of figuring this lifestyle out along with me. Best wishes to you!

      Reply
  2. I am a football wife who is very involved. I grew up in a football driven home and have always loved football, so it is a natural lifestyle for me. We have 2 kids and while I am a stay at home mom now, I worked when we only had our son. It was tiresome on Fridays after working all week and being a football widow/single mother, but come Friday night, there was no place I would rather be than at his game. It’s a lifestyle that everyone reacts to differently, I happen to love it and wouldn’t want our Falls any other way. I think it was very brave to come out with your post and let people know it’s ok to not “LOVE” your husband’s time commitment to the game. I’m glad you two are figuring out the lifestyle as a couple and you are happier. Good Luck this season!

    Reply
    • Thanks for your kind words, Ashlee. This football wife thing is definitely a process and a journey!

      Reply
  3. Hi Lisa,
    I have been living the life as a cw for a long time and sometimes forget all the adjustments and emotions I went through. I have a newsletter for coaches’ wives called The Coach’s Wife that reaches almost 2000 cw across the country six times a year. I would love to share your post- you are a great writer. Let me know what you think.

    Reply
  4. Thank you for sharing your experiences as a cw. This was my 3rd season and until reading your post, I felt inadequate as my husband’s wife. I love him very much and support him as best I can, but I don’t have a desire to be at every function, though I do attend all home games. I’m not a baker or open to hosting player get togethers in my home. I feel so relieved to know that I’m not alone in being this way.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Toni! It’s a relief for me to know I’m not alone in it, either!

      Reply
  5. Hi, thanks so much for your post, my man is a basketball coach for multiple teams including travel ball that is year-round. I love him and going to the games and especially when I get to travel with him. However, I can relate to some of the things you go through and feel frustrated at times. It’s bb season right now and he’s in his prime. :) I know he’s got a lot going on all the time, it’s truly a calling for him. I like your advice on what we can do for ourselves to get through it and will take it to heart. Thank you.

    Reply
  6. Hi Sara,

    My husband is a head coach, and I often feel the same things. It is nice to read about your struggles and lessons and how to overcome the obstacles! We are discussing moving to the next level which I know will be 100 times the stress and absence. I look forward to reading more from you as we start this next journey!

    Reply
  7. I am so unbelievably happy I have found this blog and specifically this post. I thought it was only me. That I was just being negative but this football thing REALLY takes over your relationship 6 months out of the year! Thank you so much for this, it helps to know I’m not going crazy and that I am not alone!!

    Reply
    • Kathleen, you are definitely not alone. It is hard! I know several other coaches’ wives who struggle just like you and me. Best wishes for the upcoming season.

      Reply
  8. Thank you for sharing your story. I seem to forget how lonely Football season is until it starts back up. My husband is a High School Football coach. This is our 5th year of doing football together. It seems like it’s gotten easier but, then he’s gone. Mentally and physically. I think the hardest part for me is feeling like I’m not part of his victory. He’s been highly recognized by the staff brought the team to a huge win. And I’m not part of his celebration. How do I deal with this? I feel like all the efforts I put in making dinner, not bothering him while he’s making up plays, keeping the house clean, washing the dogs-just so he can concentrate on preparing for the big day- means nothing in the end. Beers with the coaches is his celebration. Wife at home.
    Do I have a fairly tale ending in my head? Of one day he will want to come home to me after a big win and thank me for supporting him?
    Help….

    Reply
    • I know how you feel. But, just know you are appreciated by just being there, a stable support he relies in day in and day out, unspoken, maybe.
      I have a hard time when mine travels alone with the team. I’ve gone on several trips before but noone else brings their wives. I’m trying to take his feelings into consideration that it does require his extra time and some of his focus to be on me when I go with him, and the other coaches are more focused on the game.
      It helps when another wife of a coach or parent comes up to me after a game and says thank you and they know how it is. Hang in there! :)

      Reply

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