“We interrupt this marriage to bring you baseball season.”
I pull out the sign at this time each year, and hang it on a wall in my home. I’m sure whoever came up with the saying thought they were super funny, implying that rabid baseball-fan husbands are so preoccupied watching their favorite teams that they may not be fulfilling their responsibilities as partners at home. The sign was a gift from my friend Alanna Rizzo, a major league baseball reporter who now covers the Los Angeles Dodgers. In our households, baseball is no joke. It interrupts her marriage, and it interrupts mine.
My husband, Tom, is the bench coach for the Colorado Rockies. Each year, right around Valentine’s Day, he leaves for Spring Training in Arizona and doesn’t come home until after the baseball season, sometime in October. Yes, you heard me right: My husband lives away from home for 8 months of the year! When people first hear about our arrangement, they ask, “How do you maintain a long-distance marriage?” or “Why don’t you just move to Colorado?” or the question I love the most from many women: “How can I find a husband like that?” wink, wink.
Almost like clockwork, two or three days after Tom leaves for Spring Training, the refrigerator will break down, the toilet will overflow or the roof will leak, just to remind me how valuable he is to our family and how much I miss him. Because of our circumstances, we hardly ever argue, and we’re always happy to see each other, whether it’s for a weekend visit, or when he comes home to live for the off-season.
It’s certainly not the ideal situation, but we make it work the best we can because we love each other. Over the years I’ve discovered we’re not alone. I know several couples whose jobs require them to travel during the workweek and reunite on weekends. I know three women in Toledo whose husbands live in different countries. I also have friends with spouses in the military who are deployed for two years at a time. That is certainly more stressful than a husband living away because of baseball season!
Relationship stress comes in different forms. Many couples are battling health issues like cancer, ALS, heart failure, or MS every day. There are couples who are dealing with financial difficulties; and couples who are working through the loss of a child. The strength and courage it takes to love each other through one of those situations is truly remarkable.
Tom’s parents were married for more than 70 years. I would often talk to his mom, Mary, about various tips on staying happily married. When she died at the age of 93, I discovered her secret: A newspaper clipping from September of 1945 that she had tucked in her Bible and read every day:
Goethe’s Requisites For A Contented Life
Strength enough to battle with difficulties and overcome them
Health enough to make work a pleasure
Wealth enough to support your needs
Grace enough to admit your sins and forsake them
Patience enough to toil until some good is accomplished
Charity enough to see some good in your neighbor
Love enough to move you to be useful and helpful to others
Faith enough to make real the things of God
It’s timeless advice we can all follow. The truth is, there is no such thing as a perfect relationship. When Cupid hits us with that arrow, we work through less-than-ideal situations for one very simple reason: Love. Tom and I have been married for more than 17 years, and so far, imperfection is perfect for me!
For 20 years, Chrys Peterson was the face of WTOL news, anchoring the 5, 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts. She is now a correspondent for ProMedica HealthConnect and spokeswoman for Friends for Life, a monthly newsletter for women that offers health and wellness advice with a focus on cancer prevention.