Thursday, March 17, 2011

Is your spouse a tennis widow (or tennis widower)?

Most are familiar with the term “golf widow”, which refers to a woman that never sees her husband on weekends because he plays golf every Saturday and Sunday.  Since a round of golf typically takes more than 4 hours, and there’s usually warm-up at the driving range and/or putting green beforehand (and perhaps the 19th hole bar afterward), the sport can take most of the day and weekend.  Left at home, a non-golfer spouse can effectively feel like an unmarried one, and that can be a problem.

Although playing three competitive sets of tennis can take upwards of 3 hours, our sport doesn’t usually consume the amount of time that golf does … unless one plays on more than one team per season and factors in practice(s).  If you play a lot of tennis each week, and your spouse does not, he or she could be considered a “tennis widow” or “tennis widower”.

Of course, one of the most frustrating aspects of being the sport-playing spouse is that your “better half” may be incapable or (worse) unwilling to join you.  Both golf and tennis have become so inclusive that even persons with physical limitations can play them.  In fact, with some effort, almost anyone is capable of participating in either sport, although not necessarily at the same level as their spouse.  If your spouse is physically capable of excelling at tennis – they’re athletic and possess good hand-eye coordination – but is unwilling to take up the sport, it may be worthwhile to figure out why?

In my case, my spouse doesn’t really like to participate in anything in which there is a winner or (to be more accurate) a loser.  Even friendly, social tennis can be competitive and she prefers not to participate in activities that have conflict.  It doesn’t help matters when I come home after a match and complain about a line call or some other incident that happened; my doing this has only reinforced her aversion to ALTA and tennis in general.

While I’ve become jaded about my own situation, I’m heartened by others that I’ve witnessed over the past year.  In one case, a husband that has played tennis for years encouraged his wife to try tennis and, in the other case, a tennis-playing wife has gotten her husband to start playing the sport.  In both cases, the new-to-tennis spouse has taken to our sport “like a fish to water” and, although these tennis newcomers have yet to reach the playing level of their more experienced spouses, both have come a long way in a very short time period.  Each has come to love tennis to the point of addiction, the way that many of us did when we first discovered the sport.

So I encourage you, if you are a tennis player and your spouse is not, to try (again) to introduce the sport to your spouse in a non-threatening way.  If you succeed, you’ll both be better for it (and so might your marriage).  Wish me luck!

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