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Surviving My Husband’s Hobby: Has He Forgotten Me?

hobbyMy husband and I met in 2005, a lifetime ago, when we were only 22. One of the first things I learned about him was that he had been playing ice hockey since he was in Kindergarten. Our school had a recreation hockey team, and he obviously joined. The team would regularly have games on Thursday or Friday nights. For three years, I sat in the stands watching him play, and then we’d caravan to a bar to meet friends.

Then we graduated, got real jobs, and had to start “adulting,” as they say. As our relationship progressed, and as circumstances changed (from dating, to engagement, to marriage, to home ownership, to children), my husband’s hockey habit was one of our lives’ constants.

After we had kids, my entire life changed. Time for myself became mostly non-existent. My husband’s life, at least in terms of day-to-day scheduling, remained mostly the same. As a result, hockey became a regular source of resentment and conflict.

My husband has two, sometimes three, hockey games per week. If his teams do well during “playoff” season, he might have four or five games during that particular week. These games are all at night. After I have been alone with two children for 12 hours, he comes home (if at all) for mere minutes, changes his clothes, grabs his bag, and leaves. I generally won’t see him until the next morning.

Here are the main reasons for our butting heads:

  • I can’t quite understand why he has to play so often. Why is one night per week not enough? His response is always that hockey is his only source of exercise, which he needs because he sits at a desk ten hours a day. Okay, fair. We all need exercise. But when do I exercise if you’re never home and I always have a child on my hip? 
  • Why does he have to stay out and socialize each time? Apparently it is standard fare for everyone to stay for a chat and a beer after every single game. As an introvert, I cannot understand this (I’d rather be home watching Netflix). But, my husband is an extrovert and claims to “need” this time or else he feels isolated. When I ask him how he would feel if I were to go out with my friends three times per week to sip wine, he says, quite honestly and literally, that he would be happy for me.
  • Who is helping me at nighttime after I’ve taken care of everything all day? Most of his games are after our kids are asleep, so he is never absent from family time. Because I actually like being alone, he thinks he is gifting me extra quiet time. Yes, I like that part (I won’t deny that). But what I don’t like is not having an extra set of hands to help me around the house on those nights. He often tells me to leave things until the morning for him to take care of. But, let’s be honest – will I really leave a sink full of dirty dishes and a kitchen floor covered in food? So I do everything myself, even though he says I don’t have to.
  • Most importantly, what about us? Despite my love for alone time, sometimes I do get lonely. And sometimes I do feel like my husband chooses his hobby over me. Are his random hockey acquaintances really better to be around than me? He often reminds me to tell him what I need – if I want him to stay home, then all I have to do is ask, and he will. But, I suppose like many women, I don’t want to ask. I want him to want to come home to me as soon as possible, because I’m fun to be around, right? Shouldn’t he have to sacrifice his social life, at least in part, because he chose to spend his life with me?

These conversations have gone around and around (and around…) for years.

I hesitated to even write this post, fearing my husband would feel attacked and that I would be painting a false picture of him. Husband, I love you. You are wonderful. In the grand scheme of life, this is not an insurmountable hurdle. However, I do know that many people struggle with this same issue. Perhaps your partner plays golf, or competes in triathlons, or maybe he or she has to have drinks with colleagues too often, leaving you home alone (again).

So, for fairness, and in the spirit of hearing both sides of an argument, I have let him read this post and then asked him to write, in his own words, why hockey is important to him. I believe that the success in our marriage is mostly attributable to the fact that we are open and honest with each other and do not hesitate to have hard conversations. I felt it was only fair to let him weigh in on this issue. 

Hilary asked me to explain why hockey, and more so socializing after hockey, is important to me.

I have been on skates since I was five or six. The longest I have gone without skating since I began is the one year I lived in Manhattan. Since my early childhood, my closest friends were my hockey teammates. I played other sports and did other activities, but none of those things involved the same time and commitment as hockey, so hockey families, both parents and kids, were close knit.

This closeness has remained. As a 27-year-old, employed, engaged, and knowing no one in town, I was eager to resume playing hockey upon moving to Connecticut 7 years ago. I didn’t anticipate also meeting new friends. In fact, until I started writing this as Hilary requested, I had not made the connection between the ice, the locker room, (now a cold beer, too), and my best friends throughout my life.

I have always been a social person, and now as a husband and father of two, working mostly in an office, life doesn’t afford much time for frivolity. Hockey, my friends, a light beer and some wings are my frivolity. I play my favorite sport, get exercise and the company of friends I truly enjoy all in one spot.

The takeaway:

I knew who my husband was when I met him. His personality has not changed one bit. He has, however, transitioned amazingly into his role as a husband and father. We all should be well-rounded people, both for our own mental health and to set an example for our children. I wouldn’t be myself without my hobbies, so why should my husband live without his? But, yes, I am at times bitter and frustrated.

In the end, no one is right, and no one is wrong. He has his opinions, and I have mine. We are open about these opinions, express them respectfully (most of the time), and try to come to a compromise. We can’t always have our way. I say this to my children daily. We can agree to disagree, as long as we respect each other’s feelings and each sacrifice something on behalf of the other. He is learning. I am learning. And that’s marriage.

Does your partner or spouse have a hobby that you struggle with?

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4 Responses to Surviving My Husband’s Hobby: Has He Forgotten Me?

  1. Jill October 21, 2017 at 4:05 PM #

    Bless you both for being so transparent. I totally see both sides of the equation. As a new mom, our daughter is a year old. We have a similar but different struggle. My husband is military and works with training students. His job can literally take on multiple programs each week, in addition to his normal responcibilities and need to excercise for military PT standards. He can be awake at 4:00am and not return until 8-9 two to three nights a week. He loves his job and has a calling for it but sometime I feel his cadets take priority over us.

    I don’t have a perfect solution, but I can attest to the fact that weekly is a balancing act. I give as much grace as I can muster on the really tough weeks and in return I communicate to him when I’m/we are feeling overlooked. In those times, I see him soften and lead with a more service oriented heart when he’s home. Those acts often fill me up enough to strike a new balance.

    I think like with your husband, it’s so hard to balance such different personalities and schedules. We practice love languages in our home so our effforts are effective and we often ask each other how “full our love tank is?” So we can guage how much extra effort is needed.

    I’m sure our system could use some tweaking too, just wanted you to know you’re not alone!

    • Hilary
      Hilary November 1, 2017 at 1:45 PM #

      Hi, Jill! Apologies for the long response time (kids!). First, thank you to your husband for his service, and thank you to you for your supporting him. We are definitely working on how with speak with each other – finding kind ways to express how we feel so the other doesn’t shut off has been a really good change. Marriage, especially with kids, is a lot of work, which I think is something many of us don’t realize before we get to this point. Congrats on your new family!

  2. Becky October 29, 2017 at 10:10 PM #

    I’ve been married 26 years & the quote “The good is the enemy of the best” ran through my mind as I read your story. Hockey, & the exercise & socialization that you get from it, is a “good” thing (I’ll overlook the high incidence of head injury & other injury). It has been a consistent opportunity to get those needs met throughout your life. I get it. Please take what Im about say with the love that is intended. You’re not a child anymore. You’re a grown man with a wife & kids now. Things are different. The time you’re not at work is precious now, it is your most valuable asset. How you choose to spend it will forever change the lives of your wife & kids. What are your goals for your marriage? Your family? Your relationship with your kids? Awesome marriages & strong families require a large quantity of quality time.

    It takes a good deal of effort to find activities the entire family can enjoy that meet your needs, but let me assure you it is the best! Hockey friends will come & go but your family is forever. Think higher! With some effort, can get your needs for exercise & socialization met all while creating memories & investing in your family. Try some new activities together as a family & have fun! Blessings to you & your young family!

    • Hilary
      Hilary November 1, 2017 at 1:52 PM #

      Thanks for the comment! You’ve written the words my brain is thinking. His hearing words from people other than me (the nag, so to speak) most definitely are heard more clearly. I am hoping that as our kids get older, we will be able to engage them in different activities that are fun for each of us (since there isn’t much we can do yet with a 4.5 and 2.5 year old). Thank you for the well wishes!

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