How to Keep Fantasy Football from Sacking Your Marriage

09/06/2017 02:42 pm ET Updated Sep 07, 2017
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This post can keep your love of fantasy football from sacking your marriage.

I often wonder how new American marriages stay intact when fantasy football takes over from September to January.

So many spouses become semi-useless as partners when the task of managing multiple fantasy teams hijacks most of Sunday and creates a hangover from Monday to Tuesday that really doesn't relent until next Thursday’s lineup is set and anticipation of the next week’s games begins to kick in.

Is there a marital secret to keeping the love running strong when one spouse checks out of the partnership and into a 17+ week, all-immersive fantasy land?

One sign of a beautiful marriage is when the fantasy football player thinks about and plans for how fantasy football behavior could negatively impact his or her relationship.

I’m going to share with you how to do that for the 2017 NFL season.

Why do you need a marital strategy to absorb the impact of an obsessions with fantasy football?

Because the amount of time that goes into caring for and burping your fantasy football lineups is unbelievable, and whether you admit it or not, the time you spend on fantasy football is likely to be experienced as marital neglect. Period.

Last year, it was estimated that 80 million people played fantasy football.

How many marriages will suffer as a result of the change in behavior and mood that accompanies a season of fantasy team management?

We don't have that statistic, but it's probably an insanely high number.

And what about the marriages in which one partner maintained multiple teams...plus betting on games, an increasingly common cluster of habits given how convenient the technology has become for maintaining fantasy leagues and gambling?

Let's put it this way, unless you enjoy a strong marriage with amazingly fluid lines of communication, fantasy football is probably chipping away at the fabric of your marriage.

Before I go any further I must make one urgent point. I’m pleading with you on this one....

Most importantly, don’t make the people you love suffer just because you lost on any given week. This is the absolute worst thing you can do. Why should they have to pay the price? It’s not their fault. I don’t care if you lost by one point on a touchdown that was called back. Find a way to get a grip by putting your fantasy loss in perspective. Remember to respect the people who put up with your nonsense and don’t take your sadness out on them. No, losing does not give you a license to withdraw into your own private world of fantasy suffering and be impossible to live with until next Thursdays’s games.

With that said, let’s continue.

Here are 5 strategies for saving your marriage from the potentially negative effects of fantasy football.

1) Legitimize fantasy football behavior as a topic worthy of discussion in your relationship.

Most importantly, initiate a discussion with your spouse at the start of the season about how he or she experienced you over the course of last football season. If you're new to fantasy football, discuss how your behavior could potentially change. Create a plan to check in with each other each week so that your partner has a platform for sharing feedback.

2) Don't let fantasy football destroy your integrity.

Be honest with your partner about the time commitment involved in fantasy football this year. Do you plan to be useless on Sundays? Can your other half rely on having your full attention in the late afternoon on Sundays? One approach that I've had success with is to check out for either the 1pm games OR the 4pm games. That is, I disappear for 3 hours but otherwise I'm a family man the rest of the day. Basically, keep your word. If you tell your wife that she'll have your undivided attention any time before 1pm, keep your word. Once your partner experiences your word as worthless, the relationships starts to go to crap.

3) Show a willingness to make adjustments over the course of the season.

If your spouse tells you that you're intolerable from Thursday night to Monday night, then it's time to make some adjustments. Maybe your happiness is too connected to how well your fantasy teams are doing and you need to think about other sources of happiness that are more in your control. If you're supremely unpleasant to be around on Mondays due to Sunday football exhaustion, consider committing to getting more sleep on Sunday nights by trading in the experience of watching the late game for gaining your sanity. Mondays can be tough enough without a fantasy football hangover.

4) Attempt to bring your partner into the strategizing element of fantasy team management.

See if your spouse is interested in helping you make decisions about who to start. More often that you're probably willing to admit, a decision made from football ignorance is the perfect antidote for calming your indecisive, nervous and irritable self. Your spouse will probably be correct if asked to make a binary decision. Beginners' luck. Another way to include your spouse is to tell him or her that you'll share half or all of the winnings if money is involved.

5) Make non-football moments about your spouse.

Compensate for your neglect, moodiness and all of the unpleasant adjustments your partner is forced to make over the course of the season by increasing the quality of your attention, your sexual interest and overall kindness when it's not a football day. This way your spouse will see that you're making an effort to invest in his or her happiness. Your partner probably feels super neglected during the season, so do something about it to lessen the potential damages.

In marriages that are already falling apart, your neglect during the fantasy football season will only expedite the demise of your relationship.

If your marriage is in relatively good shape, believe me, you don't want your partner to have little to no expectations for what he or she will get from the marriage from September to January. It won't help your relationship in any way.

Oh, and one more thing. Money does not substitute for quality time and attention. Don't think that an expensive treat will compensate for your fantasy football neglect. It doesn't. People only pretend it does but the bitterness stays and builds like emotional plaque.

For those of you who've found the perfect solution for managing multiple fantasy football teams well and maintaining a healthy marriage, I'd love to hear your secret.

Good luck this season with the most important team: you and your spouse.

(Please note that I didn’t even get a chance to mention the potentially harmful impact of FF on your children. That’s another painful topic I can’t even begin to address here.)

Dr. Greg Kushnick is a Manhattan psychologist in private practice.

He employs enhanced CBT techniques to help one New Yorker at a time. He has extensive experience working with people to alleviate their anxiety, panic and depression.

Voice of Motivation (The Vomo) is a new project featuring Dr. Greg’s shareable quotes on life, love, happiness and success.

Dr. Greg also created Techealthiest, an exciting blog dedicated to teaching the technology of health and happiness. Learn innovative tips and strategies for improving your relationship, including the impact of your digital world on love and marriage.

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