What you need to know:
- You know you are a football widow when:
- You partner leaves events early to catch a football match
- He is constantly checking his phone for updates even when in company
- He passes up sex for a football match
- If his team losses, he is miserable all weekend
It’s a Saturday afternoon and you are out with your man. It’s been a busy week for both of you and you are glad to finally have him to yourself but a few minutes into your date, you notice that all his attention is on the television screen on one of the walls where a football match is playing.
Your heat sinks. Or you’re both relaxing at home and you are feeling playful so you dress up but he gives you as much attention as he would last night’s ugali lest he looks and misses the goal. If you can relate with any of these scenarios, you are a football widow.
Urban dictionary describes a football widow as a woman who must cope with the temporary death of her relationship during football season. If this describes you and the relationship your man has with football, you are in great company. Now that the English Premier League has restarted after a break due to the Covid 19 pandemic, there are millions of other women just like you the world over dreading the thought of losing their men to the English Premier League every weekend.
“I knew I was a football widow when my husband’s daily mood began depending on whether his team had won or lost their latest game,” shares 32-year old Rose Nzomo.
“There are three of us in this marriage, my husband, me and Arsenal. If there is a match, he will stay up until the wee hours of the night. It doesn’t matter if he has work the next day or if we have family activity planned. He probably dreams about Arsenal at night,” Rose, an artist, speaks about her six-year marriage.
Kicking ball games have existed since about 206 BC and unlike other forms of compulsions like gambling or alcohol consumption which are frowned upon, the love of football is seen as a normal ‘guy thing’. When the sports loving man does it in excess, what is a woman to do?
What is a woman to do?
In the first two years of marriage, Rose and her husband fought a lot about his commitment to football.
“One time, he missed a family event and we had a huge fight and I went to my mother to vent. She told me I was lucky he wasn’t running around with another woman. She told me to love myself.”
Rose interpreted this to mean that she should take this, his love for the game, as an opportunity to do the things she wants to do.
“I take this opportunity to watch the chic flicks I know he would never watch with me and sometimes go on girls’ nights out. I have found that this makes me less resentful of him. And I have noticed that when I am not around nagging him, he actually misses me and will want to spend time with me after.”
When 30-year-old Lucy met her husband five years ago, football was already a big part of his life. He told her about a trip he had taken with his friends to Old Trafford, the home of Manchester United on her first date and she knew it would be a big part of their marriage. Five years and a three-year-old daughter later, he still watches anywhere from one to three football matches every weekend.
“I don’t like football, I never have. But I knew quite early on that we would both be miserable if I tried to make him stop following matches. Now we compromise,” she says.
They made football a topic of conversation in their marriage, agreed that it was a potential problem area and now they decide on a week to week basis the matches that will take him away from important events.
“I try to support him; I dress our daughter up in his team jersey when there is a big match.”
In their house, gift giving is easy. If she buys football merchandise, it’s guaranteed that he will like them.
If you can’t beat them…
After many missed dinners and years of having no time to bond as a couple, Fay Kitaa, 36 decided to give football a try.
“I kept wondering what was so special about it that he could spend entire weekends out at the sports bar so I watched a few matches two years ago and realized that I actually enjoyed it.”
Over the years, she has grown to love and respect the game and it’s now something that they do together.
“Away from football, my husband is very quiet and reserved but getting to watch him enjoy football, I have gotten to see another side of him, to see him all heated and passionate. It’s interesting,” she says.
In a bid to find ways to bond with her man, she made football a social event where every so often, they will have friends over to watch a game, she gets to catch up with her female friends and the children have play dates.
“I know I will never love football like he does but I have embraced it as part of our lives.”
What the experts think
James Muraguri, a Nairobi based counseling psychologist sees football fanaticism as a form of escapism. “Football numbs people, during those 90 minutes; a fanatic does not think about the things that really matter.”
According to him, some people will also nurture this love of football so that they can belong. He admits that this obsession if not checked can interfere with a relationship.
“It can become an addiction just like other addictions,” he warns.
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