Here’s the thing: I love the Devils. I mean I freaking L-O-V-E love them. They’re my team. Whether they’re winning or losing, whether it’s a good year or a bad one, they’re my boys and I love them. Right now, they’re winning (mostly; just ignore last night), and it’s a good time, which is always nice. My husband loves hockey in general, so he’ll grudgingly watch them with me simply because he’s a Flyers fan and we live in Devils territory, and he’s a good sport when I refuse to watch any game the Devils are not playing. I tell people we have a mixed marriage, because for us, hockey loyalty is almost as important as our religion. (Almost, but not, just to be clear.) At times, our trash talk and jokes though can confuse our kids, and that’s when we know it’s time to dial it back a bit and remind them (and us) that it’s “just a game”.
Take for instance right now. Currently my sons are all Devils fans, and I’m in hockey fan heaven. It doesn’t matter if we win, because I’m getting to enjoy watching my boys in the playoffs with my boys on the couch. Life is good. For me. For my husband, not so much. He has recently had to watch the Flyers suffer a sad loss to the Devils, while his sons cheered on “Mommy’s team” and he couldn’t even trash talk them because it’s the team his sons were rooting for. He’s a sports fan and he appreciates the game even if he isn’t a fan of either team. The same thing happens to me whenever any of the Philadelphia teams have a good game or season, but I don’t deal with it nearly as well as he does. I don’t pretend to be a sports fan. I’m one of those terrible things: someone who only enjoys watching her own teams play. When those teams are out for good, the season’s over for me.
In January, it was the same. The Husband sat here, watching the Giants win, watching the boys cheer them on, knowing that his team (the Eagles) had been eliminated. He likes watching football, and if it couldn’t be his team, at least it was his wife and kids’ team. And it’s not as if he hasn’t had his fair share of watching me squirm as the NY/NJ teams have not been playing at their best. As I said, I don’t deal with it well.
We have a couple of rules that make this mixed marriage slightly easier to bear. For one, we are not allowed to buy our children any team specific items, be they clothing, toys, equipment, or anything else. Family and friends, however, are allowed to purchase said items. We place the clothing in their drawers and let the kids pick their own things. Some shirts have languished at the bottom of the drawers for a couple of years while others have been worn to the point of getting threadbare. It’s up to the kids, and we don’t interfere. Another big rule is that we don’t push. The kids are welcome to root for whatever teams they wish, as long as it’s either a Mommy team or a Daddy team. This leads to the third and final rule: we do encourage home team loyalty as much as possible. This is important to both of us, and, much as the Husband would love for them all to be solely Philadelphia fans, he gets that, as we live in Newark, they’ll be more exposed to my teams, and he’s OK with that. He’s a Philadelphia fan because he grew up near Philly. I’m a fan of my teams because I grew up here, in Newark. The kids are allowed to root for teams from where they live or from where Daddy grew up. For both of us, what makes it fun is the fact that our teams are local. There’s no point in having loyalty to teams that aren’t local.
So, that’s how we survive our mixed marriage. So far, it’s been pretty much smooth sailing for us. We’ve seen both of our teams win, and so have our kids. If we can’t bring ourselves to root for each other’s teams, at least we’ve learned to be civil about it. Of course, I [not so] secretly hope and pray that my children will all grow up to be just as into the NJ Devils, the Mets, and the Giants as I am, but for now, I’m just happy that they’re with me when we’re winning.