Dear Ann Cannon • This is my least favorite time of year. Why? Because football. My husband is obsessed with it. Weekends are the worst. I’d like to do things together or (at the very least) have him help out more around the house. But no. He’s either gone to a game or glued to the TV. Seriously, I hate that stupid sport. How should I handle this?

— Football Widow

Dear Football Widow • If it makes you feel any better, you’re not the only person who doesn’t love football. Columnist George Will famously said that football combines two of the worst things about America — violence punctuated by committee meetings. So see? At least you’re in witty company.

While you obviously dislike football, I’m guessing you dislike your husband’s withdrawal even more. He already knows how you feel about things, right? You’d be an unusual couple if he didn’t. So what are your options now? Here are a few ideas.

  • Go to a game together and resent HIM the whole time.
  • Make him do something he hates doing with you so he can resent YOU the whole time.

Yeah. I agree. Those don’t seem like smart choices, so how about this one?

  • Buy yourself a copy of “Football for Dummies” by Howie Long and learn to like football for yourself.

Over the years I’ve seen people actually embrace their partners’ passions. But this approach has been known to fail — kind of like that time my mom tried to take up golf so she could spend more time with my dad. Basically the two of them ended up driving each other crazy.

So what then?

  • Do not hesitate to pursue interests of your own. This can be hard, of course, when you’re in the thick of family living. Still. You owe it to yourself.
  • Find something you and your husband enjoy doing together — playing cards, riding bikes, going to movies — and then make the time to do it.
  • Finally, your husband really SHOULD be stepping up on the family front in addition to feeding his passion for football. It isn’t impossible to do both, so don’t be afraid to insist.

Dear Ann Cannon • Does my wife really want me to tell her the truth when she asks if it looks like she’s gaining weight?

— Confused

Dear Confused • No.

Dear Ann Cannon • I hold an unusual combination of religious and political views. Hence, I’m sometimes in situations where my friends or family members freely disparage another “tribe” to which I belong. I can only speculate whether they are unaware I’m part of the group they’re trashing, or they’ve just forgotten, or it’s their passive-aggressive way of letting me know what they really think of me and my ilk. Is there anything I could or should say in such situations, or should I stick to my usual strategy of silently seething?

— A Unicorn in Zion

Dear Unicorn • It is entirely possible that some of your friends and family members are engaging in passive-aggressive behavior where you’re concerned. I believe it’s more likely, however, that they feel comfortable enough around you to freely express what they think about things both political and religious. Or maybe they’re just being thoughtless. At any rate, I think it’s smart to give them the benefit of the doubt whenever possible by assuming that their intentions are innocent.

Meanwhile, how should you respond? It depends on the situation and the comments themselves, as well as how you’re feeling. As you’ve noted, silence is an option. There’s no shame in this. In fact, I think it would be a GREAT IDEA if we all kept our mouths shut sometimes.

There are moments, however, when something ought to be said — for your sake and theirs, too. You can remind your friends and family in a good-natured fashion that hello! You’re still in the room! This will give them an opportunity to reconsider what they’re saying and how they’re saying it.

You can also lose your cool and blow up. Speaking as the voice of experience here, I don’t think this is a particularly effective long-term strategy. If you feel yourself going to that angry place, consider exiting Stage Left for a while. Bring up what bothered you later with your people when you feel calmer. It’s easier for them to dismiss the opinions of an angry you than a reasonable you.

Carry on!

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