Is it just me, or does the football season -- of all codes -- seem to begin earlier each year? I could swear my household was still cheering on the Sydney Swans even as we tucked into leftover turkey on Boxing Day. Anyhow, despite our family's collective love of footy, I've accepted that each season, I'll temporarily lose my husband to the worlds of the AFL, the NRL, A-League and even the English Premier League soccer. Because while I may be happy to watch a few matches, my other half is an -- armchair, mostly -- sports tragic.
After 20 years together, I've accepted I'll be making my own entertainment as soon as certain whistles blow. But it's not all bad. We've both learned that mastering the art of compromise goes a long way when it comes to agreeing on the essential matches (ahem) to be watched each week.
Cook a nice dinner while I put my feet up on Friday night? Sure, you can head off to the SCG to watch another Swans match. And depending on the quality of the aforementioned meal-- I may even turn a blind eye if you want to head up the pub for a few beers with the boys afterwards.
In our house, these (now) unspoken laws also extend out into the garden. Mow the lawn -- and sweep up the leaves -- unasked? Go right ahead and watch that obscure match on a Thursday night. In fact, here's the remote.
It only took me almost two decades to work out that there other advantages to being a temporary footy widow. If he's cheering on the Swannies on a Saturday arvo, I'm free to devote several hours to a good book, hit the shops, or simply sit and relax in a silent house. He's welcome to his pies and beer in the rain. I'm happy to watch a match, but I'd much rather sit in my tracky dacks, glass of wine in hand, and relish the company of good friends.
More seriously, there are emotional benefits too. If he’s happy, I’m happy – and of course, vice versa. As at home mood elevators go, a good win by his favourite team – or a smile on my face thanks to a welcome late sleep in on a Saturday morning while he runs the kids to sports, are the small pleasures -- and stepping stones -- that lead to a harmonious home life. In our place anyway.
Don't get me wrong. I don't hate the footy at all. I grew up watching the Sydney Swans weekly and then spent years in the UK learning to love soccer thanks to the Pom husband's adoration of the round ball game.
But when almost the entire weekend is taken up by football -- did I mention my two teenage sons also play soccer? -- I've now learned to employ beneficial coping strategies rather than hibernating until it's all over. Hence the unofficial rewards system we have agreed on.
But this kind of mutual understanding doesn’t just happen overnight. It’s been subtly fine-tuned over what seems like countless sports seasons. It can also be recalibrated simply on the basis of a raised eyebrow (which translates to "time to switch off that game even you don’t care about"), or a tender hug in acknowledgement of sadness when a favourite player retires. It may not be important to me, but over the course of a two decade long relationship you come to care about what matters to each other -- even if you don’t entirely understand it or value it equally. Of course our system isn’t totally one sided either. He doesn’t get my devotion to mournful musos, but he has sat through more than one Nick Cave or Bat For Lashes gig just to keep me company.
It’s this imperfect, work-in-progress ability to communicate, compromise and share that (mostly) works for us. Wine -- and our shared love of Gogglebox -- helps too.
And then, come October, it's all over and I know we'll get our weekends back again. There's leisurely breakfasts on the beach, romantic strolls around Sydney and cosy afternoons on the couch watching a good movie -- of my choice -- to look forward to. There's also a bored husband hanging around the house, taking the opportunity to embark on ill-advised DIY projects.
Until the first ball of the cricket season is bowled, that is...
It isn't just smart women who know how to make the most of footy season! Now, your partner can too, thanks to UBET and their handy tips for picking up Browny Points around the house. Whether it's mucking in on your least favourite chores, or making an effort with your friends, the handy tips below will ensure he gets a pass to catch all his favourite matches.