Saturday, March 12, 2011

WSJ article: A Workout Ate My Marriage

I thought I'd take a minute to address a Wall Street Journal article from a while back titled: A Workout Ate My Marriage .  In it, the author investigates what he calls a growing strain that endurance sports and intense exercise regimens place on modern relationships.  Please give it a click and check it out - I'll wait here... it appears to me that the author hits the nail on the head when he says "Even if research showed a higher rate of discord in homes where just one spouse is an endurance athlete, exercise could be a consequence, rather than a cause."  Granted, endurance sports are inherently time consuming and arguably selfish in nature, but it seems as though one could substitute any activity into such an article and make the very same argument for "Divorce by Golf" or Xbox or Facebook instead of "Divorce by Triathlon."  Whatever the manifestation, it comes down to a simple matter of selfishness.

What do you think?  Does get in the way of your relationships?  Are endurance sports your mistress?  Or do you have a secret to balancing training time and quality time?

Please, share and discuss.


  1. I agree with the article and you.

    Most intense triathletes I meet have significant others who do the same or similar intensity sport (i.e. I'm a triathlete, she's a runner - I do oly's and she does marathons, etc.). I think it's awesome to have that kind of connection, something so deeply rooted in both of your lives that you can share. And if having a non-paying second full time job (training) isn't something you share, it is most likely something you do not see eye-to-eye on.

    However, I believe you are correct. Insert gaming into that equation and you arrive at the same outcome. There needs to be some level of mutual understanding whether or not you share in the same activity or not. Heck, people often divorce over the fact that one of them is too involved at their job let alone have overly zealous hobbies.

    Since I started triathlons, I honestly don't think I could date someone who doesn't have athletic goals or a fitness habit. Even my friends who are not fitness-oriented have seemed to take a leave of absence.

    So I agree that the article has a point, but it unnecessarily points to exercise as THE cause when it is only one of many that fit the mold. At least it's healthy (I'd rather it be exercise than drugs).

  2. Good call Kurt. Perhaps the rub for some couples comes when someone discovers triathlon/fitness after the relationship is already established. Then the non-athlete either gets on board or feels/gets left behind. But even in those instances, if there's no mutual understanding, then it won't matter from what form the conflict arises.

  3. Where's the article "The Marine Corps Ate My Marriage" ?? :)

    I can see how the long hours training can put a strain on a relationship, but like you said, so many other things (Cough-deployments, night flights, WTI-cough) can also. I'm lucky my husband is super supportive of my training. He "gets" it and often works out with me. That said, I do my long workouts Friday & Saturdays so we can have Saturday nights "out" and the full day of Sundays off together. Got to have balance!

  4. I disagree with the article. They can play the blame game all they like, be it triathlon/military/gaming but ultimately they gotta point the finger at themselves.

    The relationship was broken to begin with.

    Sounds like the wife needs to get her head screwed on straight, the article doesn't warrant a lengthy response.

  5. I love a good debate so although this is first time commenting I'm going to add in my two cents.

    The first thing that stands out to me is that although the husband had only recently started training hardcore, he does note that he's been an ambitious go-getter from the start (lawyer, high paid position, etc) His need to delve into a project and let it overtake his soul is probably something she's experienced on different levels throughout the marriage and it's probably starting to take its toll. Even though he points out that this should mean she should have come to terms and dealt with its reality.

    As a mother of three myself, I raised all of my babies when they were wee bitties with a husband who was NEVER HOME. He wasn't training for a marathon unless you count all night poker/cocaine binges as a marathon. When you take on the burden of raising children without a partner who SHOULD BE THERE it is tough. And painful. And for a worn down and unappreciated doesn't matter if he's working on fitness or pulling a tiger woods. It's all the same. It means he's not.there.ever.

    I think it's ENTIRELY possible to train for endurance events and still have a successful marriage and have children. It's about the team effort and the relationship confidence. It's about realizing that for every mile that takes away minutes of precious time with need to repay it back...somehow someway. While I don't know the details and inner workings of their marriage what I noted was that this woman was frustrated and the husband admits his selfishness yet concedes no fault. (he's a lawyer...that explains so much) My guess is that there are nights or mornings (mother's day?!?) when he could have made a decision to give those special moments to his family. For some people it's utterly IMPOSSIBLE not to train like a hardcore BEAST hoping to give your all. That's awesome. But he should see the pain he's causing and realize that the only way those kids are going to be so proud and that the wife will be more if he places the same amount of priority on those relationships as well.

    So...I do think it's possible to be endurance athletes and have successful marriages/relationships. I think its possible to let your physical activity become a drug for you though. An addiction. And that's no bueno.


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