Hopefully you've gotten going on your workouts and are feeling like you’ve got a routine. I’d like to talk to the partners for a few minutes--and if you are a fighter reading this, maybe this will help you talk to your partner about your needs, and help you know you're not alone in those needs.
I’m going to assume that if you’re actually reading this, then you must love and support your spouse or partner in their journey—or at least see that it’s important to them and want to know how to get to the point of being happy for them and supporting them. It’s an extremely
difficult road. I’ve always said that I would never want to be the wife of a fighter. Never. I feel extremely sorry for anyone that eventually ends up with me, too. I actually really do know the pain of watching someone you love and are with losing in the ring or cage, supporting them after, supporting them through the weight cuts and the training schedule. So, from a fighter who has seen both sides, please hear me with open hearts as I speak. If you are a fighter reading this, then maybe this will help you be able to talk to your partner about your needs. Especially if you’re new to fighting and you’re both struggling to find what this means inside of your relationship, this can help. Also, just knowing that you’re not alone in these struggles sometimes helps.
First, you and your support matter immensely. If you look at a fighter who has the support of a partner and a fighter who doesn’t, there is a really big difference. I’m not saying that we can’t or won’t go ahead and do it without your support, because we will or we will become a shell of a human. It is in us and we have to whether you understand that or not (I will get to that in a minute). However, with you will be a million times less painful for us—and even can mean the difference of our win in the ring or cage.
We are our own separate human from you, and we aren’t whole without fighting. That seems like a dramatic statement, I understand. I can’t compete anymore, but I can, thankfully, still spar. Once I am no longer allowed to still spar, you had better believe I will still be in the gym coaching and doing all of my own workouts that I am still allowed to do even if that’s only shadow boxing. But the flip side of this allows me to recognize that you are your own separate human who has their own needs—completely apart from me—that I want to encourage you exploring. In fact, as I grow and change I need you to be growing and changing too so that we can grow together through our separate, equally fulfilling, activities and goals.
This brings me to an extremely important next point: I will always be growing and changing. You cannot make this harder for me just because you don’t want to put in the same work. I saw a quote from someone one time (pictured to the side) asking those who see someone on
fire to not mess with this path: if you don’t want to be putting in the same self-improvement work every day, then admire me from afar, don’t get in my way. What I’m doing is already hard enough. Please don’t try to hold me back just because misery loves company. And if it’s never occurred to you that this is why you’re trying to hold me back, then think on that for a moment. If it’s because you’re getting jealous as I improve myself, well, then read on.
Sometimes I have to get broken in order to be healed and stronger than ever. Even if this is painful for you to watch, I want to become the strongest and most whole version of myself--I not only need you to be strong through this, but I need you to remind me of this when it hurts so badly that I want to quit or not face hard truths about myself or my training that I need to change and grow in. These truths might sometimes involve us both.
Boxing never lies to you. Your whole, true self is about to come out. If I’ve been covered up with a cozy layer of fluff and now you’re seeing my muscles pop, I’m going down dress sizes, and you notice my confidence skyrocketing that doesn’t translate to I’m looking around. If that’s making you scared to have me always out there sweating with other men, then this is honestly just revealing things that already existed inside of us before I uncovered the body and confidence. The boxing isn’t the problem, the problems were already there between us.
Boxing has to happen. I know you want date nights, and if I’m not giving into our relationship and always taking, then again, that problem already existed between us in other ways and the boxing is just bringing that out to the forefront. If you don’t want me clobbered in the ring, then I have to practice and practice goes as late as it needs to go. When I come home, yes, I’m going to be too sore and tired to move. Here’s a great chance for us to slow things down for some foreplay as you help me take care of those muscles.
Which leads me to the last section. Let’s say that you’ve been a boxing partner for a while now, and you’re actually truly supportive of all of these amazing changes that are going on inside of your spouse and you want to show them just how much you love the new them. You want to find new ways to support this new them, and make sure that you help them stay on track with this wonderful thing that’s ripping open inside of them into an amazing butterfly that you always knew was cocooned inside of them. Well, I’ve put together a few things that might really help you stand behind and support. And if you’re not to the stage of just loving this new hobby they’ve picked up but you want to learn how to, then pick something from this list to show some support and just give it a try. Then pick something else and try that too. Before long, you might realize that you suddenly are actually loving this amazing new them and who it’s helping the two of you become as a unit, too.
No matter what is going on between us, don't pick a fight with me right before a match. If this is on my mind before I step in that ring I will be seriously injured. No amount of petty arguing between us will make you feel justified in me ending up with a permanent brain injury because you've got a bone to pick with me. Please, just wait until after the match--even if it's the second it ends, just wait so that I don't become permanently injured.
Rub down my sore muscles with hard pressure and tiger balm. We are always sore somewhere, even just a hand massage—oh my goodness that feels awesome after sparring especially. Hey, we might as well let this lead into some fun and enjoy the benefits together of this new body I’m building and what it can do.
If you are a male partnered to a female fighter: put all your masculinity ideas to the side. If I ask you to do something stereo-typically masculine, it is probably me trying to show you that I love you being in my life. It is me making an effort in our relationship. If I don't, it's because I don't actually need you to do these things or for me to be okay: Know that I can make it fine on my own, but instead, I ask you to be in my life because I simply want you there. You make me better. We're better together. I don't need you, I want you. Isn't that better? And don't I deserve the same thing from you?
Every great once in a while run a hot Epsom salt bath for me with candles, soft music on, and some food already ready to eat. My main emotions when I get done with practice are “ow” and “tired”. I am also starving, but I sometimes am too tired to even process the starving one until I wake up from hunger at 2 am.
Ask about practice—and actually listen. I probably am still trying to even process what all just happened in my shadow boxing, the technique I was just working on, something that a training partner just threw. Talking out loud actually really helps me—especially when you ask questions so I have to explain what things mean. This makes me process them differently, and I can maybe come to some great answers to try the next day, but there is also nothing else in the world that could show me that you care like listening while I ramble about my passion, which I know you only care about hearing because you truly care about me.
Talk through what’s working and what’s not with our schedule. If I say that I want you to be pursuing your own growth and dreams too then I truly do. Especially if we have children together then that means that we have to come up with a workable schedule. Even if you don’t have something that you’re going out to do, I need to be taking the children to practice with me on certain days to give you a break and to help them know me better too. We are a family and a partnership: supporting me doesn’t mean that you and your needs don’t exist.
Come to my matches. This is a must. This is not even negotiable. I know it hurts to watch me get hit. I know it’s much easier to cheer when I’m winning. But I need you even more on the matches where you don’t know if I’m even going to be stumbling out of the ring or laying on the floor. That’s when I need to open my eyes to you. I need to you to take over and make decisions about if I need to go to the hospital. I need you to drive and to help me through this. Only after it’s all said and done you need to then talk to me about how that made you feel and if you can still handle watching me do this to myself, because I need to always know whether I can actually still count on you. This is part of me. I can’t not. And you wouldn’t love me without this part of me. But again, that isn’t always going to actually be stepping in the ring myself. We have to talk honestly with each other about what my career is doing so that there is never a doubt in my mind that even if I go down, it’s you I’m waking back up to.
Help me with my food prep. Get involved in my career in some way so that this is our thing, not just my thing. And let me become an important part of your thing, too.
Friend my team’s other spouses. This will help both of us. You aren’t alone in how hard being a spouse of a fighter is. It’s incredibly difficult. Don’t try to do it on your own. If I have training partners of the opposite sex, don’t get jealous, make friends with them. Let our training family become a family. Trust me, we will both need them for the hard times. And if I’m pushing boundaries, there will eventually be hard times.