Tag Archives: marriage

Guest Post from John Pfeiffer: ALTA and Marriage? It’s Love-Love (Part 2)

19 Jul

Welcome back readers! Earlier this week, we introduced you to our guest blogger, John Pfeiffer of www.dudeyoureadad.blogspot.com. We’re continuing our series with post two of two. I hope you enjoy and have a great day, Scott Hanley. (P.S. Did you miss Part 1? Here’s the link : http://wp.me/pXO5l-fQ)

ALTA and Marriage? It’s Love-Love (Part 2)

It seems that in the crucible of competition, you are playing with a lot of passion and emotion. As your emotions run high, it’s easy for you to forget things like, say, manners. You may also forget to use that magical filter that stops certain thoughts that occur in your brain from reaching your mouth. Manners and the magical filter, they are important methods you can use to not insult the person you are playing with. As for your spouse, you have seen them at their best and at their worst. You have seen them after their best successes, and you have seen them go to the bathroom, an activity at which nobody looks cool. You have intimate knowledge of their strengths and weaknesses, how often they do boneheaded things, etc. Most spouses also know how to pierce each other’s armor like nobody else. It is probably this intimate level of familiarity that causes the manners to disappear and the magic filter to remain turned “off”.

So if you are out there on the court, where competitive players take winning pretty seriously, and going into the match you just had a fight with your partner, a breakdown in team chemistry is sure to follow. And in tennis, for those who do not play, mistakes are frequent. You may attempt a strategy that looked grand in theory, only to fail miserably in execution. You often hit the ball out of play, and on certain cursed days, even miss what would usually qualify as “simple” shots. All of these instances and more can lead to sharp criticism, which can make tempers flare. You KNOW you are not playing well: having it sarcastically pointed out to you only increases you anger and frustration. A “Top Gun”-like death spiral can ensue, and you and your partner can only focus on topping each other’s insults, not playing the opponent or hitting quality shots.

With the desire to win, and the fact that you have to count on your partner, it just seems any chink in the marital armor comes to the forefront. If you are fighting about any issues, or have any habits that annoy each other, these come onto the court along with you can of balls and tennis racquet. If you are the aforementioned overbearing jerk, and you proceed to shove your wife out of the way to hit a shot, how can she not relate one to the other? And what if after all that, you miss?

As bad as all of the (kind of) under the breath comments about each other’s performance can get, and irritate, then you may face the next level of pain: you lose the match. Although some can shrug it off, to others it can ruin several days. True story: my wife and I once lost a match after leading 5-0 in the third set (you play best 2 out of 3). We bought a dog later that day. It seemed like the only way we could distract ourselves from playing “I can’t believe when you did this…..”.

I know non-tennis players first reaction is to not take things so seriously. I understand that point of view. I think the people who do not take it seriously probably do not go ahead and join an organized league. Whether you are a competitive person, or reliving your past athletic glory, ALTA tennis is a place where you enjoy playing and have an outlet for your competitive sportsman. Some people have bowling leagues. Others golf every weekend. But for a certain group of Atlantans, ALTA is where it is at. I’ve played in the rain and the snow. I’ve played in temperatures above 100 degrees F and below freezing. Nobody thought of leaving the court.

Statistics show marriage is hard enough. Playing recreational tennis seems like one of those instances where there is very little upside (winning a match) and a lot of downside (fighting with each other), and should be avoided at all costs. When it comes to this, I think the score is “Love-Love”, as in, nobody wins. Go play with other people. Then your choices are A) that you actually relax and enjoy the activity, or B) bond over telling each other how horrible your respective partners are. I strongly recommend choice B. It will bring you closer. Instead of spending the weekend with a negative shared experience, you two lovebirds can go grab a meal together, and reminisce about your respective matches. You can laugh at your heroics or failures, sharing and enjoying each other’s company.


My wife and I have avoided the trap of playing together for years. We were wise enough to have learned the lessons detailed above. This season we have been really enjoying ourselves, winning a few matches and enjoying being active outdoors. During a particularly nostalgic moment, we decided to play together during PRACTICE. As in, it’s a friendly game amongst teammates. Nothing was at stake here. We have known the team for a little while, a nice people. Low stress environment, get together for a little practice, exercise, etc. So what happens? You guessed it, after playing together an hour and a half in practice, we were right back to the fighting. It was a disaster. We are just glad we didn’t do this in a match!


Guest Post from John Pfeiffer: ALTA and Marriage? It’s Love-Love

17 Jul

Hello readers! This week I have a special treat for you! We have a guest post from John Pfeiffer of dudeyoureadad.blogspot.com. I connected with John initially through his blog. I found his writings to be of interest and hope that you enjoy our special posts this week. This will be post one of two of the series. Best, Scott Hanley.

ALTA and Marriage? It’s Love-Love (Part 1)

A little context here for any readers that have been flung around the globe. I live in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia. In the south it is pretty hot, like in the neighborhood of 32* C several months of the year (I noticed quite a few overseas readers and figured I should make them feel at home-Welcome!). As a result, there are lots of neighborhoods that have tennis courts and swimming pools. With these amenities you get lots and lots of people picking up tennis in the area. So some genius noted the trend and created a city wide tennis league, otherwise known as ALTA (Atlanta Lawn and Tennis Association) which has about 80,000 members. Teams are grouped by skill level to try to keep things fun (and competitive) for everyone. Fun stuff.

ALTA rotates seasons. Fall and Spring there are Men’s teams and Women’s teams. They space matches to be on different days so spouses do not have to fight about who gets to play each weekend. Yes, some people take it pretty seriously. Lots of weekend warriors pulling hamstrings and developing tennis elbow (I once had a teammate take injections in his back to allow him to play a match. But that’s another story. Needless to say, it can be hardcore.) But in the Summer and Winter seasons, ALTA rolls out “Mixed” season, where men and women play together.

Now, there is an interesting phenomenon that takes place in the Mixed season. Actually, there are many. It is ripe with “battle of the sexes” type stuff. Some guys refuse to play because they feel the women put too much pressure on them. Some women refuse to play because they feel the men hit the ball at them on purpose to intimidate them, etc.. Some women refuse to play because their male partners are know-it-all jerks that cut them off every chance they get. But there is one wrinkle that I find to be the most interesting: husbands and wives almost never play together as partners.

This is pretty much universal around the league. Spouses simply cannot play together without getting into some sort of spat. It is hard enough to win a tennis match without carrying on a full scale fight with your own partner. Heck, my wife and I used to play together. Even when we WON, we would often fight. At some point, it just becomes easier to find another partner, someone to whom you can extend common courtesies to. Someone who you do not feel the freedom to, say, tell them how stupid they are after a bad shot.

Why does this happen? Why can’t a couple play nice together while teaming up against a common foe? Well, if I didn’t have some theories, I would be wasting your time.

Check back later this week for the second post from our guest blogger, John Pfeiffer. We’ll have that up for you on Thursday. Thanks for visiting!

Expectation in Commitment

9 Aug

This is an ongoing series of thoughts on anticipation, expectation and my upcoming book. Thank you for reading- check in again Thursday for another edition!

After five years of marriage our expectation will invariably change. If we don’t talk about them when they change, one or both parties will be mislead. If it continues, a break in the relationship will likely occur and then have to be repaired. If the break is too large the marriage will end.

Discussing the changes of our mutual expectations with a true commitment similar to when the vows were exchanged could easily shift the marriage into an even greater depth.

After a period of time, our deep friendships will invariably experience expectation changes due to life changes of one or both parties. One of the two may get married, have children, or have to move out of the country. Personal processes behavior may change along with them. This will compel a change in some or all of our expectations. Opening an honest dialogue articulating the need and desire to adjust expectations may allow the relationship to grow and deepen even further.