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March Madness: The Effect Of The Game Season On Your Relationship

March Madness: The Effect Of The Game Season On Your Relationship

So…. Valentine’s Day is over, what is the next holiday we look to for celebration and revelry? Hold on, Leprechauns…not so fast!! Move over St. Patty’s Day for just a bit….because intermixed with “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” is…. March Madness!!

Well, for some. Not all. For sure, not all of the country becomes frazzled in the frenzy of what they call “Bracketology”. But, for many of you married partners, your spouse has been drooling with excitement and anticipation for the past week (or two) about the upcoming tip-off. Tip-offs, I should say. 32 Tip-offs in the first 2 days of the NCAA Basketball Tournament.

Stereo – TYP – ically…(emphasis added) it is the husbands, the men who become zoned out of life – all that is not the madness of March – during the first few days of the tournament. Not to say that we women don’t enjoy it as well. I fill out a bracket every year. But, let’s be real…chances are better that more ladies than men will be rolling their eyes about the start of the games, and the subsequent effect on their romantic relationships. Some men go so far as to properly time the scheduling of the dreaded vasectomy with the tournament start in mind. Great excuse to miss work, cheekily termed Vas Madness. Not kidding. [see “Snip and roll” on espn.com written by David Fleming, March 24, 2014 or “For March Madness fans, vasectomy timing is everything” on cnn.com by Paul Vercammen, March 17, 2014]. Not only will your hubby be out of commission for the games, you will be attending to your own sexual needs for a couple of weeks to follow!

So, for the partners who do not succumb to the madness that is sweaty young college student running around shooting hoops for all the glory that is wrapped up in the crown… How to endure the madness? A few tips…

1. Don’t take it personally

It is what it is. This is NOT. ABOUT. YOU. Really, just like we sometimes perceive dirty socks on the floor or yellow dribbles on the toilet seat as a message [mostly perceived as “your time doesn’t matter…why should I clean up when I know you will?”] in a negative manner…you might be reading more into this tournament of hoops than is really warranted. Your partner’s attention will not be completely focused on you. So what?!

2. Plan your own “me time” activities

March Madness might be just the perfect time for a spa day [or four in a row], a shopping trip, curling up with a good book, a gal-pal getaway to the tropics, or just the right amount of time to binge-watch a rom-com Netflix series. Nurture your inner-goddess.

3. Join in the fun!

 Go ahead, fill out a bracket! Make a wager with your partner prior to the tournament and then have fun with it! Part of the madness comes from the unforeseeable upsets in the tournament anyway…not even the ESPN analysts can count on having the market cornered on a pretty bracket. You just might beat your partner. And, if not…hooray for trying!

4. Schedule special “couple time” for just the two of you

 You can try to be brave and work it into the schedule of games. That said, couple “cuddle time on the couch” might involve one partner [wearing headphones] with the iPad tuned to Netflix while the other is entranced by the game on the TV…but, hey….if your legs are touching, that’s a plus! If you are really on top of your planning, then you already anticipated this event weeks ahead of time and have prepped by spending time together during the weekend before March Madness. If not, well, there’s always April.

5. Don’t keep score

Relationships, marriages ideally are 50/50. Hah! What a joke. All partners know that it doesn’t ever work out nearly as equal. But, it should average out across time. It’s all about balance…During March Madness, beverage bottles and cans might go left un-recycled. Empty Dorito bags will likely not find their way to the trash can in a timely fashion. Crumbs will fall in between the couch cushions. And you might have to remind your partner to shower. But, remember that relationships are about “give and take”…

In all seriousness, relationships require work. Hard work. Healthy, successful relationships thrive when partners make an intentional effort to approach life, and the tasks required to enjoy life, as teamwork. Events like March Madness do not create marital woes. However, the dynamics that play out during such events typically highlight relationship patterns that have become entrenched over the course of the marriage. Disagreements about divisions of labor, spending habits, or allocation of time and energy tend to reflect more deeply-rooted concerns. If you find yourself emotionally affected by the amount of time and attention that is focused on things outside of the relationship, then it might be a good idea to reflect on what seems to be working and what places in the relationship might need some TLC. Devote time to a conversation about the relationship. Just don’t schedule the convo during the Final Four!!

  VERIFIED EXPERT
Lyz DeBoer Kreider is an experienced clinical psychologist. She has worked with families, adults and children from various cultural backgrounds. Her areas of specialization include positive parenting, trauma survival and recovery, self image enhancements and relationship problems. She completed her doctoral degree in Counseling Psychology from Lehigh University and her pre-doctoral internship at Lehigh University Counseling and Psychological Services.
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