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Sunday, January 8, 2017

Pickleball Spouses

Are paddle taps alone the foundation for a strong marriage...

My wife and I had a conversation recently where she wished we could play in tournaments together. We both got a good chuckle out of that one. It seems while our marriage remains strong after 36 years, competitive pickleball play could put year 37 in danger. Therefore, we limit our play together to more social occasions. My experience watching other spouses play makes our situation seem common. Sarah Ansboury has witnessed the same thing and writes about it in a new article.

This weekend I saw a mother and son team, at least three pickleball spouse teams, and a grandmother and grandson team. At one point, the young boy playing with his grandmother looks at me and said, “Can you please tell her we need to dink!” I couldn’t help but laugh.

Pickleball Spouses…a Different Feel

When I see families playing together it often has a whole different feel. Perhaps because we can say things to family that we would NEVER say to anyone else. I can’t believe some of the names I’ve heard people call each other or the looks they unconsciously give to one another.

I’ve worked with a lot of pickleball spouse teams and they always have a million things the other person needs to work on. After they rattle these off, I ask them to tell me something the other could do to help them feel more comfortable. In addition, I might say, “What do you need from her so that you can be a better partner?”

It’s Not Just What You Say

Of course, most of our communication is non-verbal. So we need to be very conscious of our body language. I am a big believer in “paddle taps”! When you tap paddles you don’t have to say anything. You are connecting! You may also be slowing down the pace a bit…resetting the pace for you and your partner. Eye contact, if only for a few moments is very important.

It is very important that we acknowledge when our partner does something well, as well as acknowledge that it is ok if something didn’t go as planned.

We Tend to Demand More

We have a tendency to demand so much more from our spouses or family…and sometimes our manners go out the window. Of course, anger and resentment will not promote success on the court! It is hard to work on how you and your spouse communicate and act with each other on the court, but it is worth it.

Playing with a spouse or family member can be great fun. My wife and I play recreationally. It is hard at times because it puts added pressure on both of us…probably more her because of our skill levels. And though I feel like I can communicate and support all of my partners, when playing with Linh I often feel like a beginner. My typical partner body language and tone of voice changes. Linh’s tendency is to get frustrated and just hold it in. It has taken a lot of conversation to understand what we both need and want from one another.

I have heard people say, “Never play with your spouse.” And I certainly understand why some would say that. But if you want to…try it out. You just have a little more work to do to make sure what happens on the court, stays on the court!

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