Unsupportive Spouses


#1

I have been a cycling coach for about 4 years (currently USAC Level 2). And over the course of those 4 years I’ve had several athletes that I’ve coached that did not have the most supportive spouses. It’s ranged from a wife that did not understand why her husband needed to go out on 2-3 hour rides if he was only racing in crits lasting less than an hour (she was a runner). To the extreme end where one of my clients basically had an argument with his wife before every single ride. I certainly do not want to cause anyone to get a divorce, so I am soliciting advice from the TR user group about what tactics and strategies you all have used to keep your spouses happy. I’ve suggested to my clients that they get up EARLY and ride. It’s like that old adage says, “nobody misses you before 7 AM”. If you get up and get the workout over with early, it’s less likely to have an impact on your marriage or your family. I frequently get up and go for rides in the dark on the weekends and ride the trainer in the living room between 5-6 AM. Get out early, and get back before anyone even knows you’re gone.

I’ve certainly had my fair share of disagreements with my wife over our 14 years of marriage. Disagreements ranging from how much I spend on bike related items, to the amount of time I dedicate to training and racing. My wife is super supportive overall though and it’s rare that she doesn’t come to a race to cheer me on. We’ve gotten the kids involved and they participate in the free kids races at cyclocross races and enjoy going mountain biking with me on easy trails (they are 8 and 5). But I know that my family is probably the exception to the rule, so I do not have a ton of experience to share with my clients that struggle to find balance between their family life and cycling. Family is the priority, but I also think health and well being are extremely important too. Any advice to give my clients would be greatly appreciated.


#2

This is a little like asking for generic marital counseling so everyone is going to have different cycling/work/family balance techniques and tricks. Very risky area for a coach to tread in my opinion.

I’ve had success with finding time because it is how I get mentally recharged and without it I’m a higher stress individual who isn’t fun for anyone else to be around. So for me - cycling is how I become more supportive and better engaged the rest of the time. So while I’m less available by total time, I’m fully engaged when I am available. My partner recognizes this and it makes all the difference in the world in how she views the time I’m training and racing


#3

I’m fortunate. My wife is a triathlete so she’s training for three disciplines, rather than my one.

That said, I think there might be a simple-ish solution. Support and encourage your partner in whatever it is they enjoy. If they like vintage markets, go with them, museums, walking the dog, baking… whatever it is, make time for them and their hobbies.

Life balance is massively important and lets be honest, very few of us make a career out of this cycling lark ; )


#4

Yes, I agree. Roy Wallack wrote in his book “Bike for Life” that it’s important to make deposits into the “relationship bank”. So doing exactly what you’re describing with your spouse. But it could be as simple as making sure the lawn is mowed and the dishes are done before going on your ride. Or offering to take the kids to their dance classes or girl scouts instead of your wife having to do it all the time. Little things like that might make it easier for a spouse to shrug off the 4 hour Saturday morning ride.

But I certainly don’t want to go too deep into the weeds on counseling or giving marital advice. That is beyond the scope of my abilities as a coach. Nor do I even want to consider giving that kind of advice. Simply looking for any strategies that might help. But ultimately it’s on each person individually to make their marriage or relationship work.


#5

I agree with trpnhntr- I think this is getting into the personal/marital counseling world. I can pretty much guarantee you that the bike is not the root cause.

I’ll be honest and transparent that the bike (or any other hobby I’ve poured into) has been at times a point of contention between my wife and I. But the bike itself is not the issue - when we dive into the root it always has to do with something else (I’ve laxed on my responsibilities as a husband, I’ve failed to meet my wife on an emotional level because I’m preoccupied with other things, etc.). If a man (or woman) intentionally and genuinely puts energy into growing their relationship with their spouse, the fights about the bike happen less and less. It’s tricky to suggest personal/marriage counseling to anyone, but in all honesty, EVERYONE should do this if they want to have healthier lives and relationships. This is my two cents anyways…


#6

This.

Another idea that’s helped us is the concept that “bike time” for is my time for self-help and maintenance. She’s got yoga and a therapist, I have saddle time. In addition to keeping up with the root issue (why are you in this relationship anyway? I bet it’s because you care about each other) it’s important to understand what you and your spouse need to maintain levels of sanity, and allow time for those things for both parties.


#7

This is very scary, but important and apt topic to dive into. I don’t have anything valuable to contribute yet, but I’m eagerly reading.


#8

I deal with this, as I’m sure we all do. 10 hours a week is a large chuck of your free time to come out of family time. Definitely has some conflict potential. By asking my spouse what the ideal time is and letting them have input in it goes a long way towards helping that.

The part that I haven’t figured out yet is injuries. Train long enough and injuries just happen and they always break the detente. I’m very prone to the “sprinters cough” and it doesn’t go away quickly. I’ve seen a pulmonary specialist and have been diagnosed with hyperinflation of the lungs from it, but no good methods for dealing with it other than avoiding VO2Max and very cold outdoor rides.

The self-help and maintenance reasoning get shot down when you have a hacking cough and are k-taping your knee!


#9

But sometimes it is …

My wife understands that I like to ride my bike and is supportive overall, but would get very stressed out every time I went riding outdoors. She would worry that I was going to be hit by a car and killed. 10 hours or so per week is a long time to be thinking your significant other is in a life and death situation. The compromise that we have right now is that I ride outdoors once a week on a Sunday group ride and all other times I ride indoors on a trainer. Initially the transition was difficult. Riding on a trainer is hard work and it wasn’t what I was used to, but it took a lot of the pressure out of the situation and my wife saw that I was trying to make it all work. Then all of a sudden, all the indoor structured training really was making me a stronger rider. Over time on the group ride I went from sometimes struggling to hold the wheel when the intensity went up to pushing the pace and putting the hurt on my friends. I’m at home more, I can ride when I want regardless of weather, even though I’m in the saddle for less time I’m a much stronger rider, my wife is less stressed out and I can still do the thing that gives me a lot of joy.


#10

Whether you like it or not you are in a position of authority with your clients and they will take whatever you say back to their friends and spouses. In twenty years you will be proud you recommended they keep their marriage prioritized above a hobby. I’d leave it at that, maybe recommend a marriage counselor then go back to torturing them.


#11

Riding inside this past year has really helped the situation with my wife.

It wasn’t always that easy. A couple years ago she witnessed a helicopter airlifting a rider out of the Sierras. As a result, and for my own piece of mind, I purchased a Garmin Varia radar (gen 1) and Bontrager Flare rear light (random flash mode). That has really helped her cope with the risks we all take sharing the road, as I’m managing that risk by increasing my awareness (radar) and visibility (flashing).


#12

Thirding this one…

Just remind them to make sure that cycling/working out doesn’t appear to trump your relationship with your significant other. Sometimes we get carried away, analyzing things, and spend too much time on messageboards :wink: I do early mornings and that does not always make things better if it means I go to be at 9 pm every night.

Sometimes that means you can’t do a planned long ride every saturday, and you’ll just have to get in what you have time for.


#13

I do this quite often and find it works really well with my wife. Most week nights I’m off work before my wife so I’m finishing my workout by the time she is getting home. As long as I get some housework done and help with dinner a few times during the week there is no conflict there.

Usually Thursday or Friday I’ll ask her “Hey my long run/long ride is this Saturday. Should I try to do it in the morning? Evening? Does it matter?” and she’s never given me grief for it.


#14

My wife only has a problem with long rides over 2-3 hrs on weekends when kids are home.
So I make sure that I either do them when they go to a birthday party or do the long rides when kids are at school. I have to arrange work for that but there aren’t many times that I need to ride over 2-3 hrs.


#16

I’m blessed to have a wife (19 years) that understands that I’m nuts. I’ve never been the type to sit down for long. When I get home from work I go straight to doing dishes, mowing, or taking out the trash. I find that getting that sort of thing done consistently puts nice “deposits” in the bargaining bank.
We very seldom have issues with time spent riding. Our normal contention point is the 55-60 hour work weeks. TR has changed my training for sure. I get up at 4 a.m. on Tuesday and Thurs. to do my workouts and that is time that I’m not missed. This allows me to get the structure in early and means that I have evenings for family.


#17

My wife is 85 percent supportive it can be a bear at times my kid on the other hand ugh. She is only 9 and cant understand why I have to / want to train.

It really was a problem when I had quite a crash and busted myself up real good the support seemed to be more like why do you do this to yourself…


#18

My wife is genuinely concerned about safety, but doesn’t mention it too often. No wonder - breaking my collarbone on Valentine’s Day three years, witnessing a helicopter airlift (not me), and metro area car-bike accidents on the news. I’m a strong proponent of Garmin Varia radar and random flashing rear light. I’ve got a 2 hour loop with 1 hour of (usually) uninterrupted riding (2 rural stop signs), and when the wind is howling and you can’t hear cars behind the radar really helps with awareness.

The other factor mentioned above is making sure your bike doesn’t become “the other woman” - which for me means a) spending at least 2 Saturdays a month sleeping in with wife instead of going out on a 3-6 hour group ride, and b) not giving kudos on Strava, or reviewing my own training data on the couch after dinner. So lots of training during the week… it sure helps that both kids are in college now.


#19

My wife is supportive, but lets be honest. It is quite possible a training and racing routine can be a burden on the spouse.

For example, my wife has had to come get me out of the emergency room a couple times and escorted me to surgery once. And I yelled at her in the recovery room because she forgot to ask the surgeon how long I’d have to stay off the bike (true story but I blame it on the drugs . . .). I try to keep her in the dark but she is integrated enough into my cycling crowd that she hears about all the big crashes other’s have. She does worry about me but I am concerned she has seemed less worried of late . . . .

I have “really important” regular group rides every Saturday morning, and Tuesday and Thursday evenings all summer which to be fair does result in me whining if anything impinges on any of them. So much for lazy Saturday mornings together or an impromptu dinner on a Thursday . . . I regularly object to travel plans if they will interfere with my riding, or, take the bike along and spend a decent part of the trip alone riding.

But, I make it all up to her by keeping on top of my leg shaving so my legs are not prickly.


#20

Training early works for me but the biggest break through came with the negotiated terms that bikes races had to have something in it for her. So the majority of my races are planned around camping trips and sight seeing or other activities that my wife enjoys. OS now she wants me to train so we can go do more trips and she even finds races for me to do because there is something nearby she wants to do or see.


#21

I am fortunate to have an unbelievably supportive spouse. Interestingly, training 6 days a week on TR has actually helped our relationship by reducing her anxiety regarding my safety and the many other concerns associated with riding in potentially dangerous environments. I was surprised when she shared how much she appreciates me being home and available, but also knowing I’m safe allows her to more effectively take care of her needs.

Best,

MC2phd