DEAR AMY: My husband is a very competitive guy. He is usually a dedicated, loving and fun father, but when we go to our son’s Little League games, another side comes out. My husband is the loud one on the sidelines — pacing, swearing and turning red; he micromanages our son, and shouts belittling comments at him and other kids on our team. He argues with the umpires, and complains about the coaches. It is embarrassing and hurtful for our son, and I don’t envy the coach. My husband has coached a few of my son’s teams, as well, and he has been ejected from games during those seasons. I’ve tried asking him to be calmer. I have urged him to try to see things from our son’s perspective, but his reply is that you should always demand 100 percent from people. He says that he’s a lot better than his own dad, who never showed up for anything. How can I get him to see that this behavior is unacceptable and actually harming or son?
DEAR EXHAUSTED: Your husband claims that he is “better” than his own father was, but how is getting ejected from a game better than not showing up for the game? Either way, Dad is not at the game!
If your son screamed, yelled, threw tantrums on the field, and got ejected, would your husband endorse this behavior? I doubt it.
I shared your question with Tina Syer, of the Positive Coaching Alliance (positivecoach.org), a national nonprofit organization dedicated to training parents and coaches to have positive and pro-social experiences on the field.
She responds, “Sports parents too often lose sight of the big picture in youth sports, which are ideal for teaching life lessons that can help kids develop and achieve in all aspects of their lives. ‘Exhausted’ should persuade her husband to focus on the long-term effects of his behavior.”
Syer, who coaches one of her sons’ baseball teams, says, “Learning to compete and give 100 percent is important, and the way to ensure your son takes those life lessons is by providing unconditional love and support, regardless of performance, and by helping him process the youth sports experience.
“Berating him, coaches, officials or others only serves to humiliate the child — chasing him from the sport — and to drive a wedge between him and his father, potentially for the rest of their lives. Research, and the top sport psychologists working with pro athletes, has found that negativity degrades performance.”
Syer and I agree that shooting a video of your husband freaking out might shock him into changing.
Don’t ask him to change; lovingly demand that he apply his famous 100 percent effort to changing.
DEAR AMY: I am 52, and happily married, but my wife has lost almost all interest in intimacy. She is 51, healthy, and in great shape, but says that she just doesn’t have the drive anymore. This has been building for several years. There are reasons on both sides, but it mainly seems to be just the passage of time. We have had many conversations and a few therapy sessions, but nothing changes. I have tried romantic gestures and flirting, but get little response. She finally has said that she gives me permission to explore intimacy elsewhere. She has even suggested possibilities within our social circle. I always wanted to be a faithful, loving spouse, but the thought of going the rest of my life without an active physical relationship is hard to accept. My first choice by far would be to rekindle the connection with her, but that has not worked. I do not want to leave her, as I love her and we otherwise have a good relationship and good family life. Should I accept the permission slip and see what is out there?
DEAR FRUSTRATED: You don’t mention your wife visiting her physician. Low libido can have a physical cause; it would be wise for her to explore medical/hormonal options.
If you and your wife can work out a way for you both to stay married — and actually be married — while you seek physical intimacy elsewhere, then you could try it, but my instinct is that your emotional marital connection would be frayed, possibly to the breaking point.
DEAR READERS: Sometimes people who dispense advice run out of answers. If you’ve ever been curious about the life behind my advice, read my new book, “Strangers Tend to Tell Me Things: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Coming Home” (2017, Hachette).