10 ways to survive Rivalry Week in a divided household
You see the license plates and the bumper stickers, complete with two logos and the words “house divided.” They’re everywhere throughout the South.
You see the houses with two flags flying out front, or the couple walking down the street, one covered in crimson, the other blue and orange. It happens far too often when two people fall in love not because of – but in spite of – the college football teams they root for.
It gets really tough this week, when the rivalry game is actually here. You’re rivals a little bit every day for 364 days, but game day pushes it off the charts.
So how do you – and your relationship – survive rivalry week? It’s not easy, so here are 10 tips to help you through it:
- Let the other person wear their colors. It may hurt your eyes having those terrible colors and that terrible mascot in such close proximity, but it’s only fair. You have to let each other get geared up for one of the biggest games of the year. Trying to hold them back will only add undue strain on your relationship. So let them show their spirit. Just make sure you show off your colors with equal force.
- Give each person equal space for decorating your game-watching space. When preparing your viewing area for game day, don’t get greedy. The rivalry is a unique part of your household, and you should let it be visible. So put out your two flags, your two pennants, your two collectible helmets, and use all of your team-themed party platters and drinkware.
- Don’t get the kids involved. Unless you have an even number and plan on splitting them up evenly, do not try persuading your kids to be on someone’s side. Getting double-teamed on trash-talk, cheering, or postgame celebrating feels just as bad as your best receiver getting double-teamed, especially when it’s coming from your child. Plus, you don’t want to put them in a “which-parent-do-you-love-more” situation, which is what it will turn into. Just avoid it.
- Keep your trash talk civil. Taking a few jabs at your significant other comes with the territory if you two happen to be on opposite sides of a historic rivalry. However, there is a certain point when trash-talk just gets unnecessarily nasty. It may be OK to cross that line with a stranger at a bar, but keep your distance when it comes to the person you are in a relationship with. For example, you can bring up Alabama’s embarrassing collapse against Ole Miss earlier this season, but do not lob an insult about Bear Bryant. That is sacred Alabama territory and is completely uncalled for.
- Don’t make it personal and don’t take it personally. Of course, in order to make sure your trash-talking doesn’t result in full-blown domestic warfare, it’s important to remember that all of this is about the game of football. While the team you root for is a very personal thing, the good-natured put downs you’ll hear are not meant to demean you as a person in any way. Everything is in the spirit of the rivalry and should not be used to make someone feel superior to his or her significant other in anything but football.
- Make a fun bet on who wins. Not only will this keep the competition lighthearted instead of deadly, but it’s a great chance to get something extra out of the rivalry. What could be better than your team winning and also getting a week off from doing the dishes? And as if bragging rights and satisfaction weren’t enough, having a bet on the line gives you an even bigger reason to cheer hard for your team.
- If your team loses, let your significant other celebrate. It would be an unrealistic expectation to ask them not to. If your roles were reversed, you would definitely want to do some victorious fist-pumps, claps, or even a little dance. Getting mad at your other half for being happy in this situation is just getting mad for no reason.
- If your team loses, be bitter at your team but not at your partner. In the aftermath of a loss, you will be upset. This one will be especially difficult to bare because the person right next to you will be the opposite of upset, and it will feel like it is coming at your expense. It’s important in this moment to not lash out at them. They are not laughing and smiling because you are upset. In fact, they probably hate it when you feel upset. On this particular day, they are just enjoying something great that their team did.
- If your team wins, be excited but not too excited. While it is appropriate for the winner to celebrate, it is not appropriate to do so for the next hour or to scream, “I told you so!” in your significant other’s face or to recap to them all your team’s biggest plays on repeat. In this moment, your significant other is going to be sad, going to need some time to come to terms, and will probably want some quiet time. Be sensitive to that in the throes of your victory. Keep in mind that even players get penalized for excessive celebration.
- Throughout this trying time, just remember that you love this person despite their flawed allegiance. As cheesy as it sounds, it’s crucial to not lose sight of why you are with this person. Sure, they may have made a poor choice in teams to support, but you also chose each other and for so many other better reasons. Don’t let a football rivalry get in the way. Rather, let it make you stronger as a unique trait in your relationship that’s celebrated every year.