Yes, life with a triathlete can be happy…

We TriWives have become accustomed to the lifestyle of being married to a triathlete and for the most part, love it.  It’s not always easy, though.  For us, life with a triathlete has meant big changes in our day-to-day activities, vacations, personal life, dealing with the kids, etc.  So, we decided to look at what has worked and what hasn’t for us, to keep harmony in the family.  But, with a twist, we are looking at both perspectives, so you get the big picture.  In the spirit of being good sports, we decided to let the triathletes speak first.  John Bergquist, who blogs at Fit Knight, has graciously and very bravely, we might add, provided us with his thoughts on this topic.

So, here are a few do’s and don’ts for a happy life with a triathlete,  from a triathlete’s perspective (in no particular order):

DO:  Be supportive!  We love feeling like we’re not just doing this for our own benefit or are completely crazy…your support makes us feel like we’re doing something meaningful.

DON’T:   Ridicule. Hearing “you’re training again?” or “why are you doing this anyway” is not only bad for the ego, but it’s just mean.  Smile and nod if you have to, but be nice.

DO:  Listen!  You don’t have to pay 100% attention, but at least listen when we drone on about our aero position, the latest tri suit fabrics, or the carbon fiber bike we’d trade our children (or cats, in my case) for.

DON’T:  Ignore us.  Yes, we talk too much about our chosen form of insanity, but it’s important to us…and your opinion is important.  Completely tuning us out or blatantly ignoring us hurts, and can really put distance into a relationship.

DO:  Accept that travel is part of racing triathlons.  Sometimes they’re local, sometimes a plane is involved, but travel is part of the package.  Make the best of it and maybe plan a family vacation around it (racing in Kona, for example, would be a perfect chance for a romantic few days vacation post-race…).

Kona, Hawaii

A view of The Big Island.

DON’T:  Purposely make plans the same weekend as a race.  Races are registered for and planned out months or YEARS in advance.  “I really wanted to go visit my mom/dad/sister/cousin that weekend!” means you’re either not paying attention, have no interest in going to the race, or just don’t care.  None of those are good.

DO:  Offer advice.  I love hearing my wife’s recommendations and suggestions…she’s brilliant, and thinks of things I don’t (“did you check eBay for the right size seat post?” was the most recent…brilliant!!).  Even if you don’t know carbon fiber from aluminum, or what the heck 700 vs 650 means, at least try to help…it might just jump start a thought and point us in the right direction.

DON’T:  Belittle when we ask for advice.  If I show my wife a new cool tri suit online, I can guarantee that she’ll offer me a good opinion on whether she thinks it’ll look good or not…but she does it nicely. “Not really your style, babe” is WAY better than “Are you serious?  You’d look like an idiot in that”.  WAY better.

DO:  Give us time to recover.  This is hard work…we’re not gonna be super excited about mowing the yard, cooking dinner, or washing the car within hours (or days) of a race.  Especially as we get older, it takes more time to recover from the intense beating we just gave our bodies.  Be patient with us.

DON’T:  Kick us while we’re down.  Along the lines of #9 above, don’t gripe about our “unwillingness” to do any of those chores, or us being “lazy”.  We’re not…we just can’t walk at the moment.

And most importantly…

Compromise!  There will be give and take.  Neither partner gets what they want all the time.  I’ve not registered for a few races, because it interferred with family plans.  Likewise, my wife has changed some of her plans to accommodate some of my races.  If she wants to talk jewelry, I counter with tri gear…and vice versa.  Be sensitive to each other’s needs and know that while your spouse loves you, it IS possible to drive them crazy and make them resent you and your hobby.


Sometimes we just have to compromise…

From John:  My wife and I have been married for 19 years this July, but I’ve only had the triathlon bug since 2012.  Since then, she has helped me pick out my first road bike, my competitive mountain bike, and my tri suit; offered her opinion on what races I could realistically do (and saved my bacon as a result); and kept me from making some fashion faux pas with my kit.  As I mentioned above, it’s all about compromise, listening to each other, and being attentive to your spouse (no matter who the athlete is).

Don’t forgot to stop by John’s blog or follow him on twitter @fitknight.