My husband and I were out with friends at a baseball game a couple of weeks ago. Though we were focused more on conversation than the game, my husband always knew what was happening on the field. Occasionally he’d comment on plays or erupt in cheers. A similar thing happens when the topic of sports comes up in conversation. He knows what teams won their recent games and what dramatic plays have caught national attention.
I don’t think my husband’s love for sports will ever wane. He grew up playing several and he’ll watch just about any on TV when he has time. I’ve slowly come to understand some reasons why he enjoys sports. Oddly enough, these reasons have shown me ways to strengthen my marriage.
Reasons men love sports (and how an understanding of these can strengthen your marriage)
Reason #1: The camaraderie
Athletes on a team work together to win their games. The strength of one athlete makes up for the weakness of another and they are collectively responsible for the success or failure of the team. Teammates are able to give pep talks to encourage and inspire one another.
Marriage application: The stakes in life are much greater than those in a game! Our husbands need teammates in life. They need friends who will hold them accountable. They need friends who will be strong in areas where they are weak. We can encourage our husbands in their friendships with other Godly men by making sure they have time available to spend with these men in Bible study and fellowship.
Reason #2: The battle
Athletic competition provides an opportunity for athletes to set challenging goals and commit to achieving them. They train and work hard in practice. They take to the field or court like soldiers take to the battlefield. They persevere through losses. It gives them an opportunity to excel at something few people can. In my husband’s words, “It’s like being a warrior.”
Marriage application: Do you and your husband have some goals you hope to achieve? We can approach goals in our marriages with the same zeal and commitment that athletes approach their sports. My husband and I have several, one of which is debt-free living. We can train (budgeting, frugal living, etc.) for this goal as an athlete trains for a championship. We can persevere through losses (e.g., car repairs, medical expenses) as we keep our eyes on the goal. In doing these things I help my husband be a warrior.
Reason #3: The triumph
Teams can’t win every game they play, but when they do win—or even when an athlete just makes an excellent play—the celebration is enthusiastic. There’s an exhilarating rush associated with victory!
Marriage application: Last time your husband got a promotion at work did you celebrate with a victory dance? When you paid off a piece of debt did you throw your hands in the air and shout out loud? We can enhance the exciting moments in our marriages and revel in the triumph by celebrating with the same abandon that athletes celebrate great plays and wins.
Reason #4: The regulations
Athletes may not get excited about regulations, but any athlete can tell you how rules facilitate the games within their sport. The rules are in place before each game and they are consistent across games. Predetermined penalties accompany infractions, but once penalties are imposed the game moves on. These regulations bring order and predictability.
Marriage application: The rules aren’t always clear in marriage (e.g., is it okay for your husband to have a friend who is female? Is it okay to let the sun go down on your anger?). Penalties aren’t always predetermined but often arise spontaneously (e.g., raised voices, criticism, rude remarks). The game doesn’t always move on (e.g., the silent treatment, hostility, bringing up past mistakes). We can clarify the “rules” within our marriages so they bring order and predictability in the same way they do to sports. I can clearly communicate my expectations and encourage my husband to share his. I can forgive when mistakes are made and move forward.
Though it’s not mentioned above, we must also remember that men—due to their God-given nature—also enjoy the physicality and aggression of sports. Given that men’s masculinity is under attack in our culture, it’s important for us to realize that it’s natural for them to enjoy the rough, physically strenuous aspects of sports.
Is your husband a sports fan? Why do you think he likes sports so much? Can you apply any of these reasons to your marriage?