I was recently interviewed by Susan Lacke for her "Triathlete Love" column in Triathlete magazine. She was asking about the phenomenon of "divorce by triathlon," where one partner dives in to the sport and the other does not. A quick taste:
I’ve known very few couples where it was the exercise itself that was the problem. People usually like and appreciate that their spouse wants to be in better shape! More often, the problem one of two things: The sudden absence of the newly-active partner for several hours a week, or the meaning that the less-active spouse puts to their partner getting more involved in the sport.
In the first case, the active partner is suddenly less available for home and family responsibilities. There are only so many hours in the day, and if you start taking several hours that had been time at home and use them to work out instead, that puts real pressure on the other spouse. If a couple hasn’t planned for that or communicated well about it, it’s easy to see how the less-active partner can get resentful.
In the second case, the less-active partner might think that the time spent working out is really an attempt to escape from responsibilities at home, or worse, to escape from them.
The full article is available here, and worth the read. TLDR version: If you're in a relationship where one of you is more active than the other, and that difference is causing problems, you're not alone. Lots of couples struggle with one partner's involvement with sports or other activities. If it's hurting your relationship, a good couples therapist -- ideally one who understands both sides of the issue -- can help.
- Ben Caldwell, PsyD is a Los Angeles-based marriage and family therapist specializing in couple and relationship issues.