Marathon Mom: My Non-Runner Hubby Wants Me to Cut Down. Help!

Dear Marathon Mom,
Running is a big passion of mine, but my husband is not so much a fan. Of course it’s fine that he doesn’t personally want to be a runner, but lately he’s been ragging on me for how much time my running is taking me away from the family.  I’m training for my first marathon, so he is valid in claiming I’m running more now than I used to, but there is an end date (and an important goal I’ve set for myself!) and then I can/will back off again.  I train with a local running group one weeknight and then meet up with two friends who are also training for the same marathon on Sunday mornings to do our long runs. My husband takes over house and parenting duties during those times I’m running. We have twin 16-month-olds, so the rest of my runs are done during the week with me pushing them in our double running stroller.  Am I really being selfish trying to train for this marathon now, or does my husband need to step up more and support me accomplishing this goal?

Feeling Unsupported

Dear Feeling Unsupported,
Well, I can certainly see some potential avenues for misunderstandings and potential resentment in your situation. Although it’s certainly convenient when partners have the same interests, it’s also healthy and normal for each person in the couple to have his or her own hobbies. Having our own hobbies can help us be better partners and parents by reminding us that we are individuals, as well as part of a family, and keeping us happier in general due to having a personal outlet.

However. A personal hobby isn’t as helpful if it’s getting in the way of family time or making your partner feel overwhelmed.

That being said, only you and your partner really know if your running is putting more than a fair share of responsibility him, and truly taking you away from what would otherwise be valuable family time.

You mentioned that your husband’s primary complaint is that your running is now taking you away from the family too much. I recommend talking with him further about this in order to find out what he means by this. Does he have family plans he’d like to do during the times you are otherwise running? Does he feel overwhelmed being home alone with the twins? There is always room for compromise as well; for instance, could you go to your team practices every other week? Could you involve your family more in your long runs, such as asking them to meet you somewhere on your run as a sort-of mobile water stop and support crew, or perhaps your husband and kids (in the stroller) could run the last mile or two with you? Involving them more in your passion may help them better understand why you’re drawn to it, helping them to also ultimately be more supportive.

Since it clearly means a lot to you to do this marathon, have you been sure to talk with your husband one-on-one to explain why this marathon is so important to you? It may help him become more supportive if he knows not only what is driving you to train for a marathon, but also why you want to do it at this point in your life, versus later when your kids are older. If you don’t have a clear answer…I hate to say it, but how can you expect your husband to understand and be supportive?

There is, of course, also the potential that your husband may be jealous. I don’t mean jealous in a petty way, but jealous in the way any parent would/be is of free time. Does he have a hobby of his own? And if so, are you helping provide him with time each week to participate in it? You’re currently asking him to dedicate one week night and half of each Saturday to full-time parenting duty–do you return the favor so he can do something for himself too?

If you can honestly say that he either does have a similar amount of time to do his own hobby, or that he hasn’t come forward with a hobby that he’d like to find more time for, then I can’t say that you’re out of line for being upset with his apparent lack of support. However, if, like most of us occasionally do, you may have forgotten to look past your own complaints and considered if the situation is fair and where his feelings may be stemming from, you may want to take a moment to do so.

So much of marriage is about choosing which battles to fight, making compromises, and sometimes making sacrifices simply because you love your partner and want to keep them happy. Remind yourself of this when you speak with your husband about his apparent lack of support, and don’t be shy in asking for the same consideration in return.

Best of luck,
Audra Rundle