Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

His Take: “He Won’t Quit Playing Rugby Despite my Pleas”

My husband and I are having a debate. He played football in college but was sidelined by knee surgery in both knees. One now is arthritic. About a year ago, his friend started a local rugby team. He is so excited and so happy to be on the team. He told me that if he was injured, he would stop. Well, he took a knee to the kidney and was peeing blood for a week and required an ultrasound, urine analysis, and seeing two specialists. But once he stopped having symptoms, he ran back to the team. He thinks that I am just lonely since he is out of the house three days a week. But the truth is I’m concerned about an early knee replacement because the surgeon said he could have one as early as 35 if he didn’t take care of himself. Since the kidney issue, I’m also worried about concussions, neck injuries, losing teeth, things like that. He told me that he promised to stop when I get pregnant but what if he changes his mind there too? He just turned thirty and I feel like this is some sort of crisis. What can we do? — Rugby Widow


ART: In a marriage, one person needs to be able to tell the other person that life-threatening sports are 100% unacceptable come baby-time. If my fiancée said she would quit her stomach punching club only after we had our first child, I would do just about everything in my power to show her that her quitting now is a very, very important thing for the sake of babies. This rugby thing is for college kids (who are alive because their parents did not engage in death sports), and your husband is nearly 30. I think putting it in grave terms — not necessarily that you will leave him (unless you will—if so, use that!), but that you want him to be alive at baby-time, and that aliveness protection needs to start now. Do not bargain, do not equivocate. Tell him his rugby days need to be done for the sake of future children. (When I say “do not bargain,” I do not mean don’t suggest other sports. Broomball is awesome and you can hurt yourself just as badly in much less critical areas.)

JAREK: This isn’t a crisis your husband is going through; it’s a hobby. People who are of a competitive nature are not selective in their desire to conquer and seek triumph. Victory, and likewise defeat, is not just limited to on the field. Our biggest competitor is life. No one likes to get older, and surrendering to our weaknesses is a tough pill to swallow, as inevitable as those weaknesses may be. Asking your husband to stop playing rugby because of his injuries is asking him to forfeit, and that goes against everything he knows. Throwing in the towel, for him, is giving up. Giving up, quitting, and losing are all terms that don’t settle well with competitive people. He’s going to continue to push on in his fight against the clock. I know you are concerned about his health and well-being, but he is well aware of the consequences involved in his activities and he has chosen to accept and live with them. This nature is a part of him, the him you chose to love. Don’t take that away or you’ll find he’ll be a different man. In the meantime, give him a little credit. He’ll know when it’s the right time to stop.

DAVID JAY: While I am sensitive to your concerns about rugby, I think you need to file this one under “boys will be boys.” Your husband is 30 and he’s feeling his age. His body is hinting to his brain that it will soon be time to hang up the cleats. Rugby is his way of “not going gently into that good night.”

Every once in a while I get the chance to play football, baseball, or volleyball, and I know darn well that I will be limping around for the next two weeks. All I can say is: It’s worth it! Call it dumb, stupid, irresponsible … It’s WORTH IT! Most men like pain — it makes us feel alive and accomplished. Don’t even try to understand it. [Humor alert] Maybe that is why we get married and have children?

Regarding your future family, chances are your husband will be a better father for this, and you know he will teach your kids to play hard and win… something they (remarkably) just don’t do in school anymore. Your kids will love him… even with missing teeth and two wooden legs. Hopefully you can too. Two closing words of advice: Life Insurance!

JMagic: As much as I wanted to avoid using the following line, it fits: “Boys will be boys,” especially when it comes to sports. This is even more apparent when one has played said sport on a very competitive level. I’m sure he’s very excited to get back on the field and make use of that potential and talent that he feels he was robbed of with the knee injury. When it comes to his health, however, I think it’s important for you to make sure he fully understands what he just went through with the knees, kidney, etc.

The “well as soon as you’re pregnant” line is just a delay tactic so he can keep hanging with the boys and getting out his frustrations. You’re valid in your concern that he won’t stop once you’re pregnant. Soon after that it will be “Oh, I’ll stop once our child starts school” and so on. I would not go so far as to say this is a ‘crisis,’ but at the same time he needs to understand that the change in body structure, and the recovery period from 18 – 30 can be drastic and injuries will only get worse the older you get. It may take a doctor telling him this since it seems he’s not wholly convinced from what you tell him.

ANDREW: Rugby can get pretty rough so I’m sure your concerns are justified. That being said, you knew you were marrying a football player – not a butterfly enthusiast – and you have to accept all the good and bad that comes along with it. Just like the NFL owners and players association, you two need to compromise and settle this thing already. What if your husband joined a weekend pick-up football league that isn’t half as nuts as the rugby team? That way he could still have fun and your hair doesn’t have to turn grey while he does it.

* If you’d like to ask the guys a question, simply email me at wendy@dearwendy.com with “His Take” in the subject line and I’ll pass your question along to them.

56 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Calliopedork July 25, 2011, 3:18 pm

    My boyfriend is a rugby player and while it may be hard to watch him throw his neck into other men especially with his history of back problems and ankle issues, the happiness he gets from playing is great to watch. Rugby may seem more dangerous than other sports but as long as the rules are followed long term injuries are relatively rare. This sport will not negatively,affect his ability to be a good long term husband or father. Atleast he isnt base jumping

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    kerrycontrary July 25, 2011, 3:25 pm

    I agree with the guys here! You must’ve known that you were marrying an athletic, competitive, (and maybe strong-willed) guy. And you also must know that you can’t tell your husband what he’s “allowed” to do, since he’s your husband, not your son. Hopefully a doctor has, or will, tell him sometime in the near future that his body can’t put up with this must longer. Better yet, your husband will probably realize soon that his body can’t take much more of this. Let this ride the course. If he does continue after you get pregnant remind him what he said and that’s when you can really put your foot down and ask him to start playing something like flag football through meetup.com.

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      Desiree July 25, 2011, 4:18 pm

      While I understand that he committed to quit when she gets pregnant, I am of the opinion that that was a stall tactic and not a genuine promise. I also think “enforcing” it, so to speak, could be detrimental to their marriage. I think everyone encounters challenges in the transition to parenthood, and those can be double for an independent guy like this. Taking away his rugby (his big stress-reliever, I’d bet) while he is adjusting to fatherhood could put extra stress on the family.

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    SGMcG July 25, 2011, 3:29 pm

    If it were me personally, everytime I hear that “boys will be boys” argument, I like to throw back, “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander”. LW, is there any chance that the team your husband is on has a co-ed league? If you are justifiably worried about the potential injuries he sustaines, why don’t you let him taste his own medicine and take on rugby too? At least he won’t use that “you’re just lonely” argument on you anymore when he sees you in the middle of the scrum. If the league won’t let you join, then find something that you can do in the process for just the girls – I hear rollerderby is great fun, and there are even some kickball, dodgeball leagues available too. At least your mind and body will be distracted with something to do other than worrying about him.

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      Calliopedork July 25, 2011, 3:35 pm

      If she lives in colorado there is a really good womens team and a very nice well managed field she can play on.

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    cmarie July 25, 2011, 3:36 pm

    Why is that “boys can be boys” and women just have to accept it but women are always told to just accept it when the men do what the want regardless of what his partner needs? Why is it always women who have to change? Yes, he’s a boy, an athlete, but he’s not just playing a game, he’s putting himself in danger and that does affect her. If he gets hurt playing rugby and can’t work, who has to take care of everything? He has to get surgery on his knee and can be out of work for a month, how can they be sure they’ll be ok financially? It’s not like he can get worker’s comp for it? He’s not a professional player with millions in the bank for a security net. I don’t really know where they are in terms of financial security so I can’t say for sure but I do know a lot of couples who would have trouble getting by if one of them were out of commission for a while. A compromise for the both of them is in order. She has valid concerns and he should be able to reign in his competitive nature to respect her, the woman he chose to spend his life with. Just as she got into the relationship knowing he was an athlete, he got in knowing that he would have to take her into consideration as a partner as well.

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      demoiselle July 25, 2011, 3:45 pm

      I agree with you 100%.

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      Bethany July 25, 2011, 3:56 pm

      Thank you!!! I think “Boys will be boys” is a horiffic excuse!!

      When you get married you agree to becoming a “We” not a “Me”, and they both need to be making the choices that are best for BOTH of them. If he’s so competitive, he can find another sport to play.
      Tons of my friends played rugby in college, and most of them got hurt. Not a little hurt, but a lot of hurt- surgeries, casts, crutches…

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      Christy July 25, 2011, 4:00 pm

      I don’t think “boys will be boys” is really a fair way of looking at this at all. I think a more honest but less concise explanation is “everyone has their passions in life, and giving it up for whatever reason is usually painful. given the opportunity to reinvest in said passion, most people would choose to do so at very high costs” (like injury). I hate the gendered argument as well, but if my girlfriend tried to stop me from doing technical theatre (which is my passion) because she was afraid I’d be injured (a real risk) or whatever other excuse she came up with, I would similarly dismiss her worries. Because, honestly, theatre was a part of my life before you were, I’ve loved it for longer, I’m not going to let it actually harm me or my relationship with you, and you need to respect that it’s very important to me. At least, that’s what I’m getting from the LW’s BF with regards to football/rugby

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      • avatar

        cmarie July 25, 2011, 4:33 pm

        I understand that no one should have to give up their passion but it my passion ever caused me to pee blood for two weeks I might reconsider some boundaries. At some point we have to make sacrifices for our relationships and our partners. You don’t have to give up what you like but is tempering it really such an awful idea if it means giving your partner some peace of mind and reducing your risk of harm? Part of being in a partnership is caring about your partner and his/her concerns. It means doing your best to blend your lives and interests. They’re married and they’re trying to start a family, does he really need to be taking unnecessary risks? I get having passions and wanting to pursue them no matter what, I’m very adamant that you should be yourself in your relationships but I also know that for a partnership to work sacrifices and compromises need to be made. There has to be some amount of give in a relationship for it to work. He shouldn’t have to sacrifice his athleticism but he should be willing to work with her to come up with a way they’ll both be happy.

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        6napkinburger August 29, 2011, 5:17 pm

        But it wasn’t his passion, football was! and he had already stopped playing due to injury by the time she met/married him! He didn’t LOVE rugby, he doesn’t have to keep RUGBY as his hobby, he can pick a different substute (as he already has).

        I HATE the argument “he was X when you married him, so deal.” (Just because I hate it doesn’t mean that sometimes it isn’t tue — it totally is, sometimes.)

        You love the theatre. And if you fell (g-d forbid) and really hurt yourself (I hope you don’t!) you could either (a) get involved with some other facet of theatre that let you stay involved, (b) find something similar to do but without the danger factor, (maybe you don’t go up in rafters? ps i’m sorry, i have no idea what “technical theatre” is, other than guessing it means being part of the “crew”) or (c) find a MORE dangerous version of it to do. Her husband chose c, when there were perfectly good alternatives! (flag football? dodgeball? kickball? recreational lacrosse? zoog sports has tons that don’t involve internal bleeding!)

        If, after supporting your desire to participate earlier and helping you to get better, your now-wife said, “i can’t take it if you get injured, like you just did (see, im not crazy, it is really dangerous), I understand that you love this, but can’t you find some outlet for this interest without seriously endangering our ability to make babies/keep our health insurance premium in an affordable bracket?” If your response was, I’ve loved “technical theater longer than you, and i will never give it up! the safety of my balls and life be damned, you knew what you were dating, I AM the theatre!”, I’d think that stunk for your GF. Also, I doubt you’d do that.

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      Jack July 25, 2011, 6:02 pm

      Why is it always women who have to change?

      What exactly is she changing about herself?

      Also men aren’t farm animals, we’re not obliged to restrict ourselves to only those activities that will produce the maximum financial output for women.

      That said, I agree that BWBB evades the issue. If this were a guy writing in worried that his wife had just gotten back into gymnastics and risked serious injuries, attributing her interest in gymnastics to the fact that she’s female doesn’t really address the guy’s concerns.

      Unfortunately the LW’s husband will probably do what a lot of aging athletes do, and continue to push himself until he sustains a debilitating injury. Then he’ll have to stop.

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    • avatar

      kf July 25, 2011, 6:08 pm

      His body, his choice.

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        kf July 25, 2011, 7:54 pm

        You guys can purple me until I look like the illegitemate love child of Barney and Zoe from Sesame Street, but I would be very very very careful about “anything that puts his body in danger affects you too and he has to compromise with you” arguments.

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        Britannia July 25, 2011, 11:09 pm

        I think the purple thumbs are because you are not considering the fact that what he does with his body, risking serious injury when obviously he keeps getting hurt, affects his ability to be a financial provider to the family, incurs serious medical bills, threatens his long-term physical abilities, and also heightens the risk that he may be unable to assist his wife in raising their child if he keeps getting laid up, or becomes permanently disabled.

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        parrt July 26, 2011, 8:24 pm

        And a woman who chooses to have an unexpected pregnancy, even if the family cannot afford it … is well within her right to have the baby? her body her choice?

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        ncp July 25, 2011, 11:58 pm

        Zoe is orange. I think you’re thinking of Telly (who is a boy monster).

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        kf July 26, 2011, 8:19 am

        No, I was thinking of the other girl (Rosita? Rosalita?) who come to think of it might have been blue.

        Should have just gone with Elmo and Smurfette.

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  • avatar

    callmehobo July 25, 2011, 3:39 pm

    I’ve got a rugby-playing boyfriend as well, and yeah, it’s a little unsettling when he comes off the field so concussed he can’t remember where he parked the car, but you can’t change his fierce competitive spirit.

    It helps to think of it as a hobby rather than a bone-crushing melee. I like to read in my spare time, and my boyfriend likes to try and get his nose broken. It also helps to go to the games and root for your significant other (it will definitely quell the “you’re just lonely” arguments). The support will bolster him not only on the field, but it might also show him that you are genuinely concerned for his health, and aren’t jealous of the time he spends away from you.

    That being said, you’ve voiced your concern, and he’s a big boy. I would also suggest splurging on a very nice mouth guard for him. Totally worth it.

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  • avatar

    melanie July 25, 2011, 3:39 pm

    As much as I can understand being worried about the well being of your husband, I’d be happy he’s getting his thrills through a competitive sport rather than through a taboo affair or something. Guys need something competitive so they can thrive. Nature of the beast.

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    • avatar

      TheOtherMe July 25, 2011, 3:43 pm

      love this!

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    demoiselle July 25, 2011, 3:43 pm

    I’m going to stay away from the “boys will be boys” rubbish. I absolutely hate that line and I don’t think it should be used as an argument–ever.

    As for the rugby: I think your concerns are legitimate and I would feel the same as you do. New knees are not a little thing. My husband would agree. Unfortunately, it seems like you and your spouse have a fundamental difference in values (which is more important: long-term health vs. sports/fun now?). I’m not sure that you’ll be able to persuade him to quit the team–at least not happily. I wouldn’t count on him quitting when you get pregnant, and I’d take some time to seriously consider what impact his attitude will have on any children you have (will you have this argument over impact sports and competitiveness with your sons or daughters?).

    However, this probably isn’t an insurmountable difference. For the short term, you’ll probably have to live with it. Perhaps you can get him to agree to some reasonable safety standards. And maybe you can try to help him find an alternate, lower impact outlet for his desire to be sportive? Soccer? Bowling? Swimming or water polo? Not being an athletic type, I’m not sure what to suggests. Others might have better ideas of what is out there.

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      Vathena July 25, 2011, 4:00 pm

      I agree with just about everything here, except to point out that “sports/fun now” can also have a positive impact on long-term health. It’s great that the husband is out getting some exercise, not just pudging out on the couch. What’s bad for the knees can be great for the heart! Second the motion to encourage a sport with less potential for head injury, though. You don’t play around with multiple concussions.

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      • avatar

        demoiselle July 25, 2011, 4:08 pm

        Sure, I think sports can be good and have very positive long-term effects. I like to work out myself, though I don’t play team sports. In this particular situation, however, I think the long term health impact is almost certainly negative, and the positive benefits could be gotten another way. Whether the husband would consider that other way to be fun or a worthy substitute is a whole other question…

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        Vathena July 25, 2011, 4:33 pm

        Yes, I definitely agree with you that other, less dangerous, team sports would be a better way to go. There is potential for injury with just about any physical activity, but why flirt with the odds?

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom July 25, 2011, 9:37 pm

        My father-in-law had to have two hip replacements. The implants led to blood clots which sometimes made him end up in the emergency room and one night one of them finally went to his heart and killed him. So, sometimes what’s hard on the joint is also hard on the heart.

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  • avatar

    AKchic July 25, 2011, 3:45 pm

    Just tell him “as long as you can keep up with me in bed” and see what happens.

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      TheOtherMe July 25, 2011, 3:48 pm

      Good one ! I’ve always referred to the other side of the bed as “the passenger’s side” 😀

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  • avatar

    lk July 25, 2011, 3:49 pm

    Have you gone to watch him play? I say, become his biggest fan & enjoy watching him in the twilight of his physical grandeur : ) Plus, then you know he’ll have a ride to the hospital!

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  • Heather

    Heather July 25, 2011, 3:56 pm

    I understand the concern, and I don’t think it’s misguided (meaning, I feel like you are actually concerned for him and not just jealous or something petty). Having said that, if it’s something he really wants to do, it seems unfair to squash it. It’s a hobby, albeit a rough one. He’s a big boy, he knows what can happen, and he’s choosing to do it anyway. It’s not like he’s saying, “but honey, I really like snorting lines of coke of hooker’s asses, can’t you just let me be me?” It’s a sport. He wants to play, and it makes him feel good. I would just let this one go.

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  • theattack

    theattack July 25, 2011, 4:18 pm

    I very much see your concern here, and I hope he stays safe while he’s playing. Really there are two main ideas conflicting here. 1) Expecting him to take a “we” attitude and respecting you and your potential family. 2) What a spouse loves to do, dangerous or not, is a part of them, and it’s cruel to ask that they change that for you.

    My opinion is that you should respect him right now by not asking him to change, but yes, keeping him informed on the realities. This doesn’t mean constant reminders or nagging, but appropriate once or twice talks about it. He’s a grown man and knows what the risks are. I agree with the guy above (can’t remember who) who said that he’s trying to do this while he still can because he’s aware of his aging. Let him get his closure, because he knows that his time with this sport is almost over. Doing what he loves is part of being healthy too.

    But you do still want him to think of your family and not just himself. Absolutely draw the line with your pregnancy (and probably a second injury) and don’t take no for an answer. Ask him, “So if we found out I was pregnant next week, you wouldn’t go play another game?” Make him think about it in real time, not just hypothetical ifs and whens. And if the time comes and he’s hesitant to stop, this is the time to be very firm. Remind him explicitly that he made this promise for the sake of your entire family together, not just his own health.

    Basically, you need to give a little and then draw very firm lines about when you expect him to sacrifice and stick to it.

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  • bagge72

    bagge72 July 25, 2011, 4:32 pm

    I guess I will just give you my own experience. I was an exception high school athlete (Wrestling, Football, Baseball) and played football in college. Once that was over though I didn’t go on to anything professionally. I’ve had a lot of shoulder, and knee problems over the years because of the sports I played. At the age of 27 I was really missing playing sports, and decided to take up mixed martials, but initially just to train, and to get myself in shape, and I loved grappling. Fast forward 8 months later, and I’m in cage in my first mma fight at Foxwoods in CT. Well the thrill of that fight got to me, and I became a professional fighter which I liked a lot, both because of the extra money, and the fact that I was really good at it. Well also in the time I became a professional fighter I also started dating my now fiance, and she was at all of my fights. Well eventually when things got serious I had a talk with her to see how she felt about this, because even though this was something I like I also knew the repercussions of what I was doing, and wanted to get her opinion, because it really mattered to me. She told me that she would never ask me to stop fighting, because she knew I liked it and didn’t think it was her right to try to make me stop doing it, but she also didn’t approve of it, because of what it was doing to my body, and the potential risk of how are future kids might react to me fighting another person in a cage for money for no real reason. So after some knee injuries I made the decision on my own to retire just over a year ago, and it has been a great decision, because I don’t have to worry about my fiance worrying about my health, and all the rest has helped me get back into running longer distances (went 8 months without being able to workout, because me knees would swell up, and lock on me just from my walks to work), there is a lot less stress without preparing for a fight, and I don’t have to go to work with black eyes, and a swollen nose just from training ( I swear you get more hurt training than the actual fight). So I would say yeah boys will be boys, but when you involve your life with somebody else’s you need to take into account how what your doing affects the other person, and if you present to your husband some valid reasons that he should consider taking a break from Rugby then I don’t see why he on his own wouldn’t want to stop. I just wouldn’t try to force him to stop so he resents you later on in life for taking that opportunity away from him.

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    • avatar

      TheOtherMe July 25, 2011, 4:36 pm

      I always enjoy your comments, Bagge !

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      • bagge72

        bagge72 July 25, 2011, 4:51 pm

        Thank You! I appreciate it. Also if anybody would like to look at my past glory feel free to look up some of my old fight and interviews on you tube. Just google bagge mma. Warning I’m a little chubby ;o) don’t want to get anyones hopes up!

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      • bagge72

        bagge72 July 25, 2011, 4:54 pm

        Oh and I’m the baldish one in the videos

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        TheOtherMe July 25, 2011, 4:57 pm

        😀 awesome !

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  • Budj

    Budjer July 25, 2011, 4:40 pm

    Everyone raises great points and I don’t need to reiterate them, but one thing I would point out is that the peeing blood thing may have been seen by him as more of a “flesh wound” rather than the rugby ending injury and something tells me that it wasn’t his idea to go see two specialists…

    Him being an intensely physical and competitive sport guy I doubt thats the first time it has happened and he probably views it in a much more minor fashion than the LW…so I don’t think he necessarily intends on stringing her along forever.

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    • Budj

      Budjer July 25, 2011, 4:46 pm

      I should clarify that I’m not down playing the severity, I’m not a specialist, but there just may be a difference in perceived injury severity…that should be something they go into more detail about if it is discussed again. She shouldn’t have to agree that he needs knee replacement surgery to stop playing.

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  • avatar

    LTC039 July 25, 2011, 4:20 pm

    I can sympathize with you completely. My boyfriend has been obsessing over getting a motorcycle for a while. He used to have one, but it was a cruiser (even though I still worried everytime he was on it.) Well, now he wants a sports bike. I’ve ALWAYS been against those, I’ve heard so many horror stories regarding those bikes…Add that to the fact that we live in a city that is notoriously known for unsafe driving (i.e. it’s crazy to drive here!) I think we’ve beat out New York for the past couple of years…Anyway, everytime he talks about how he’s been reading motorcycle adds, I get all upset & sometimes change the subject on him, or get an attitude. Which is totally wrong, I am genuinely concerned for his safety everytime he talks about it, but he’s really excited about it. I want him to be happy, but I also want him to be safe.
    I’ve had to accept that no matter what, he’s going to get that motorcylce (it’s taking him longer bc of financial reasons.) He even had to put it on the back burner for sometime bc he has to travel to a wedding with me in September & it’s going to cost us a lot (For a friend he doesn’t even know). To me, that meant a lot & I know I can’t tell him “I refuse for you to get a motorcycle”.
    All you can do is pray (if you do that) for his safety & watch him be happy, support him when he needs it. Like Jarek said, he’ll know when he needs to stop. Trust that.

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    • avatar

      dobby July 25, 2011, 5:21 pm

      Live in Vegas by any chance? It’s a rough town for motorcyclists…

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  • avatar

    Mainer July 25, 2011, 5:24 pm

    The “boys will be boys” argument, I’ll admit, is a little silly, especially when taken literally. But if you read it as it is meant to be read, it is quite accurate. It should probably read “people will be people.” I don’t care who you are or what you enjoy doing, everyone has a passion, and with those passions come their respected risks. Competitive people will be competitive; artistic people will be artistic; culinary enthusiasts will cook; carpenters will build. Boys are stereotypically competitive, which is why we say “boys will be boys.” But whether you are a girl or a boy, the saying holds true: you can’t erase a person’s competitive nature. To try and deny them that is to deny a part of them. It’s like telling an artist they can’t paint anymore, or a musician they can’t play. They do what they do because it makes them happy. As such, not doing it would probably make them rather unhappy. We all know there are compromises that need to be made in any relationship, but those compromises are a two way street. It is completely normal for partners to worry about the well being of each other, and it is only natural for us to try and prevent them from experiencing pain. But we don’t live in bubbles. There are dangers out there regardless of what you are going to do. Not letting your child ride his or her bike because there is a risk he or she could fall off, while likely assuring they won’t be injured, will also be denying them the joy of experiencing it. You can’t treat him like a child. He knows what he is doing and he knows what can happen to him. For you to ask him to quit because you don’t like seeing him hurt is pretty selfish. We need to put on the other person’s shoes here – how would we feel if our partner tried to force us to stop doing something we love just because there are risks involved? What if the female was the competitive one and the male was trying to force her to quit? Would we feel that was justified, or would we label that as “controlling?”

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    • avatar

      Quakergirl July 25, 2011, 7:01 pm

      I suppose my issue with that argument is that there are plenty of ways for him to be competitive without taking such serious risks. He can play other sports– ones that are less contact-intensive and hard on his joints. And what he’s doing impacts her, too. If it really were only him being hurt by his actions, I’d be more inclined to tell her to drop it, but his insistence on pushing his body too far is costing them a lot of money and impacting his health– which impacts his ability to work and his ability to be a partner to her.

      Granted, health is always subject to change– there are risks in crossing the street– but there are ways to reduce risk, and when someone else depends on you, I feel you’re obligated to take those steps. For example, if he were running across streets without regard to traffic, I wouldn’t call her selfish for asking him to stop. He could just run with the light and look both ways. He still gets to run, but he’s much less likely to get smacked by a bus. Similarly, he could just play another sport, but he refuses. That, to me, is the selfish action here.

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  • avatar

    jumper July 25, 2011, 6:31 pm

    Maybe I can offer a intermediary POV, as a female rugby player. It is one of the most thrilling things I’ve ever done in my entire life, and the camaraderie between players- even your opponents- is amazing. No other sport really compares. For 80 minutes, you are as ALIVE as possible. And statistically speaking, rugby is actually safer than American football. My first rush of judgement, as a lover of the game, after reading the letter, was, “She really doesn’t sound like a rugby SO.” My boyfriend takes pride in my endurance and commitment… and if he repeatedly nagged me to quit, I would probably get very, very angry and drop his ass.

    LW, I understand you’re motivated by love and concern, and that’s great. But try flipping it around- if you or some other woman, say, was really into Tae Kwon Do, but had lost a tooth, maybe gotten a concussion once, had a bad shoulder, but still felt like she had a few more years of fun in her before submitting to Father Time, and her husband repeatedly nagged her to quit because he was worried about injuries… wouldn’t a lot of women on this site argue that it’s her life, her body? And while marriage involves compromise, it doesn’t mean sacrificing your arm for the sake of your leg? I bet even a few people would wave the feminism flag.

    Unfortunately, in this situation there isn’t a lot of room for compromise. How well do you know the sport? Some positions are less contact-heavy than others. Maybe he can play every other game. All I can say is, if you ask a real rugger to cut out part of his soul, be prepared to suffer the emotional consequences for a very long time.

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  • avatar

    Quakergirl July 25, 2011, 6:53 pm

    It’s one thing to take some time for yourself, and I completely understand that people in relationships need to do things just for themselves that make them happy and develop their interests. There’s nothing wrong in that. That being said, what LW’s husband is doing is borderline selfish. He’s refusing to quit an activity that harms their financial security (by increasing medical bills substantially and putting himself at risk for short- or long-term disability), harms her emotional well-being (understandably so), and forces her focus onto him and his self-inflicted needs. Taking care of each other in sickness and in health is the promise you both made, but it’s sort of an abuse of that promise for him to fling himself directly into harm’s way without any concern for the burden it places on you, LW, or your future children. I doubt he’ll stop when you get pregnant or have children, and how will he feel when you have to use your child’s college fund on a knee replacement that could have been avoided, or a hospital stay caused by a concussion or another knee to a vital organ? Or if he can’t play sports with them because his knees are too bad?

    I completely understand that he needs to be competitive and athletic (Quakerboy is the same way), but he owes it to you and your future children to take good care of himself as much as he can. First, I would try to have a conversation with his doctor and ask if he really should be playing sports at all. If not, maybe he could take up swimming? Or if he can still play, would he consider joining a soccer league or a touch-football team? All of those activities get very competitive and are great exercise, but the likelihood of serious injury is relatively low.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom July 26, 2011, 8:38 am

      Considering that he is 30 and could need a knee replacement surgery in only five years it is very selfish. It sounds like they are going to be starting a family in that time and young children are labor intensive, as in you are constantly on the go keeping track of them to keep them safe. Not only would his surgery be a financial burden on a young family his physical diability would place an extra burden on his wife who would have to do more of the childcare on her own because he just wouldn’t physically be up to it. As the children got older he would also have more difficulty playing sports with them. Replacement knees also wear out and have to be replaced muliple times so this isn’t a one time procedure or cost. This will be a continuing burden for this family.

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  • avatar

    MiMi July 25, 2011, 7:30 pm

    If your husband doesn’t already have term life and disability insurance, sit down with him and your agent and get some. It may be his right to go and get bashed three times a week while working out his aging issues, but if you’re contemplating starting a family and his chosen hobby carries a known risk of bodily harm, then he owes it to you to provide for you in case he gets seriously injured or can’t work. It’s just common sense.

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  • avatar

    AKchic July 25, 2011, 9:07 pm

    After thinking about this for a while… I did have to make a second comment.

    What does he do for a living? Depending on a permanent injury, he may not be able to work, and could end up costing a lot of money for retraining. Especially if he works in construction.
    The cost of rehabbing an injury, and any long-term afteraffects is monumental. My car accident in 2004 is a great example. Needles into my neck every 18-36 months to burn 12 nerves out, pain medication daily, etc. Stiffness, swelling, pain, nerve damage, etc – when it rains or snows – forget it, hot packs, extra pain meds, etc.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom July 25, 2011, 9:28 pm

    Boys maybe boys but your husband is a man. A boy lives with his parents and doesn’t have to earn an income to pay the rent/mortgage, put food on the table or pay utilities and insurance premiums and deductibles. Your husband is a man and as a man he has these responsibilities. I’m assuming he wasn’t playing football or rugby when you married him. The football was in the past and the injury had finished his college career and so it was over and done with and this is a surprise to you.

    I see two problems here. First, you should expect him to be honest with you and tell you what he really intends rather than what he thinks you want to hear. He needs to be up front about playing rugby. He needs to be honest with both you and himself about why he plays it and what would really have to happen before he quit.

    You can’t tell him to quit but I think you can request that he prepare for possible consequences. That means that he have enough supplemental insurance to cover his salary for an extended period of time if he is injured. He also needs to make sure he has enough money saved at all times to cover a full year of his insurance deductible and better yet he should be able to cover two full years of his deductible because if he was injured in the fall he could easily run into medical costs through the new year and would suddenly need to meet the deductible in January. If he had a permanent, crippling injury he needs to know how he would cover his obligations.

    He’s a man and he needs to act like a man.

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  • caitie_didnt

    caitie_didn't July 25, 2011, 10:16 pm

    Speaking as a female rugby player (I played on my school and league team throughout high school, we trained through the year and won two regional championships, and then made the varsity team at university): rugby is a drug. It’s utterly addictive and once it’s part of your life, it’s really hard to leave it behind. Not to mention the unbelievable cameraderie you have with your teammates! It is dangerous, but it is actually less dangerous than football- skin on skin collisions have a lower potential for injury than when people use their equipment as a weapon like what happens in football. So I totally see why your husband wants to play the sport, and I know many men his age and older that still play and are totally healthy! (and women too!)

    I think the real issue here is that you feel that your husband is dismissive of your concerns. And that is something that is difficult to resolve.

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  • avatar

    Lindsay July 25, 2011, 10:26 pm

    I don’t have much to add because everyone made a lot of good points and gave good advice. But in my opinion, this seems to be more about how responsible he is, not just the roughness of the game. I would feel better about my guy playing rugby if I knew that he’d take care of himself (i.e., make sure his kidneys had healed, etc.) if he got hurt. But for all she knows, he’ll just hide his injury or pretend he’s feeling better when he’s not.

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  • katie

    katie July 26, 2011, 1:00 am

    being with an athlete is a deal-breaker for me, for this exact reason.

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  • avatar

    Lexington July 26, 2011, 11:42 am

    Wow.

    I would definitely not be ok with it if my fiancé ignored my pleas for him to stop putting himself and our future in danger like that. I already have to accept that he puts himself in danger with his work- he’s a landscaper and already this year he’s had to have surgery and PT and it has definitely affected us negatively. But that’s his job, that he’s using to support us and build our future towards. If he was regularly putting himself at risk for concussion, I would not be ok with that at all. Not only is he putting himself at risk in the now: medical bills, knee replacements, whatever, but he’s putting their future at risk: multiple concussions are very, very bad and means that she could be married to someone with half the mental capacity in 10 years.

    Also, they made a deal. You can be passionate about something, but in my eyes, your marriage comes first. That’s what happens when you marry someone: you promise to put your family that you are creating first. You both make sacrifices. He promised her that he would quit when she asked but now it’s inconvenient for him and he won’t do it. Breaking the deal they made is fucking low. And if this promise holds no water with him when it comes down to it, why should his marriage vows? What happens when it’s “inconvenient” to be faithful to her?

    I just completely disagree with every male take’s perspective on this today, which is very rare.

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  • avatar

    Stilgar666 July 26, 2011, 12:35 pm

    Rugby is one of the safest contact sports, and incredibly fun. I have friends who have played into their 50’s. Some men/women need an aggressive team sport. All those who have suggested boring sports, shouldn’t judge those who need more stimulation.

    He has not been seriously hurt, yet (sorry knee to the kidney doesn’t count). If he gets concussions quickly in a row or suffers an actually serious injury, sideline him. Let him enjoy his athletic body while he still has it, but make him save/prepare for the medical bills. Don’t make him look back on his life with regret.

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  • avatar

    David Jay July 31, 2011, 10:30 pm

    After reading all the comments, I have the following recap:
    – Boys WILL be Boys (even if you hate the expression… or boys in general)
    – Men WILL be Men (establishing that men are just “big boys” with jobs)
    – People WILL be People (sort of PC restatement of the above)
    – Rugby is the most dangerous, yet safest contact sports, so don’t sweat it.

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  • avatar

    Actual Rugby Player September 2, 2011, 3:51 pm

    As no one above actually plays rugby maybe you’ll find that my opinion has value.

    First 30 isn’t that old, In fact in Europe its common for average club rugby players to play until they are 40-50.

    Second, I guess you don’t care about his heart health? His knees aren’t going to kill him, but I bet he stays in a lot better cardio shape playing rugby (probably better then you). Heart disease is the biggest risk to the american male.

    Third, It makes your husband happy, doesn’t hurt you, whats the big deal? Get AFLAC insurance.

    Fourth, YOUR NOT PREGNANT so he hasn’t lied to you.

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