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.
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