Last year as the main contact for our volleyball and baseball teams, I worked 96 games. I was on the road for 45 of those contests, and it would have been 48 if I had not missed three baseball games on a spring break California trip because I was in Florida for my best friend’s wedding. I also worked a handful of other events last year, but let’s just round up to 100 because I like even numbers.
Working 100 games is grueling, but not just on me. You see, my husband Matthew attended exactly none of those 100 events, which means that there were 100 days (plus a few extra travel days) where we barely saw each other. If we count game days as full days, that amounts to about 27% of a calendar year. That means that Matthew and I only saw each other for about 60% of the 2016-17 school year — and that does not include the hours we both spend working during the day in our respective offices. Isn’t that crazy?
The good news is, my husband is used to my grind. We met in college and started dating around the same time that I started working with our athletic department. Since then, I’ve always worked (in some capacity) in college athletics.
In one of my very first posts with this blog, I told the story of how my move to Michigan took me away from my husband (then fiance) for about six months. It sucked, but we managed. However, moving back in together and living in under the same roof did nothing to change my hectic schedule. It’s obviously great being a married couple and living together, but the point I’m trying to make is that we still don’t see each other all the time (re: those 100 game days).
And, of course, our marriage isn’t perfect, but over the years we’ve come up with our own system for how to manage a hectic sports schedule (that may or may not include an additional postseason run!). Here are a few things that work for us.
Understand and support each other’s passions. I’m definitely not here to tell you how to find “the one.” In fact, if I hadn’t asked Matthew to date me back in college, I’d probably still be wandering this earth looking for Mr. Right. But if you are in a relationship with someone, make sure they understand your passions. I’m obviously passionate about my job - and little else, due to time constraints - but my passions aren’t the only ones that matter. My husband is passionate about comedy and improving our home, so it’s important that I support him. If I have a night game and Matthew wants to perform at a comedy show, I shift my day as much as possible so I can go home and walk the dog; that way, he doesn’t have to worry about rushing home after work and can enjoy his passions at the same time as I am enjoying mine.
Spend time together. Back in college and as recent graduates, Matthew and I had a tradition where we would schedule a date night once a month. As full-fledged adults with tough work schedules, the formality of that tradition no longer works for us, but we still set aside specific amounts of time for each other. For example, he is very passionate about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (re: point #1), and so if I’m in town on the day that the Bucs play, we always go to Buffalo Wild Wings to watch. It’s not a fancy date night and sometimes I even bring my computer and do work in the booth that we’re sitting in, but time spent together is always time well spent.
Split up the responsibilities. This one is boring and not exciting in the least, but it’s still important. Even though we’re just two people, our household chores take up a LOT of our time. Between caring for the pets, cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, and maintaining our massive yard, there’s no way that either of us can do it all, so we have to share the responsibilities around the house. Of course traveling makes that difficult and there are times when I don’t pull my weight and there are times when Matthew doesn’t pull his weight, but if either of us get too overwhelmed by the chores or feel like we’re doing too much, we talk it out. There’s no point in him resenting me because he “always has to do the laundry” or vice versa.
Love each other. I’m not trying to be cliche, but this is probably the most important piece of advice I can give. When things get busy and you feel overworked and underpaid and just plain old worn out, remember that there is someone there who loves you. And when your significant other has had a rough day or week or month or year, they need to know that you’re there for them. Never let a job get in the way of being there for your spouse when they need you.
I’m extremely lucky to have a spouse who rarely complains about my work schedule, and I know that not all significant others might be so understanding. However, no relationship is perfect and they all take work, but having a career in sports and having a strong relationship with your partner is possible. For us, hard work and communication are key, but a few loads of laundry and an afternoon eating wings are just as important.