Marriage and bodybuilding go together about as well as unflavored EAAs and beer; it can work, but you have to be REALLY committed to it. I understand that in typical fashion, I am going to cause a lot of people to emote. I have that way with people. Please attempt to understand that obviously, there are exceptions. No one needs you to clog up my post-article comments going on and on about how “special” your marriage is, describing your blissful swole story to me. Everyone in the sport talks about how great his or her relationship is when the fly on the wall would say otherwise. Thankfully, the fly isn’t on Facebook, so it can’t out you for lying.
The sad reality is that this sport of ours attracts and/or perpetuates narcissism, and when you are concerned only about yourself, relationships or marriages don’t thrive. Like it or not, bodybuilding is a one-person game. Sure, you might work with a coach, or your mom might drive you to the gym every day, but it is a one-person endeavor despite your lengthy “thank-you list” that the emcee reads as you take the stage. In reality, the thank-you list is really just a subtle way of apologizing to all of the people in your life whom you were a dick to for 20 weeks of dieting. Then, be sure to throw God in there, too, to appear even more selfless.
Bodybuilding is time consuming; it takes up much more time than most of us realize. For those who have regular jobs, they can find themselves away from home 10-12 hours a day, which includes commute, work, and gym time. Obviously, and for good reason, this doesn’t always go over well with spouses and especially spouses who also work and have kids to take care of. Being out of the house for that much time every day isn’t going to seem like an equitable split when it comes to domicile duties. It won’t take long before your spouse is discussing home life with their friends over drinks and figures out that his or her situation is a little onesided. Even if your spouse doesn’t figure it out on his or her own, you can always count on one of his or her friends to point it out. This conversation usually starts with something like, “Girl, you CRAAAZY. If that was my man….” It goes downhill for you from there.
More than a few of you are almost certainly wanting to counter my last paragraph with, “That’s why I only date people who also work out and are as dedicated as I am.” Oh, brother. This is exactly why your dumbass is still single. My best piece of advice, which I give to all younger people entering bodybuilding, is NOT to have a serious relationship with someone who is as dedicated to bodybuilding as you are. I have been around long enough to know that as tough as it is for one person in a relationship to be passionate about this lifestyle, two is almost impossible and is an accident waiting to happen. Why? If one person in the relationship is self-absorbed then two will be twice as much of a mess. Plus, let’s be honest here: Self-absorbed people want attention, and vying for attention with your spouse is not a good idea. If you plan to make your relationship work, you better hope that your significant other is incredibly independent and has his or her own life. Add kids to the equation and someone is going to miss out on mommy-daddy time.
As I stated earlier, it IS possible to have a successful and happy relationship or marriage and bodybuild at the same time; it just isn’t common. However, it takes compromise to be able to make time for your spouse/family in addition to your bodybuilding obligations. I have been happily married for 25 years, and I was that narcissistic bodybuilder in the early years. I came first.
Here are some things I did to be able to bodybuild and keep my wife from wanting to divorce me:
1. Train at a time when it impacts your family or relationship the least.
This is one of the main reasons I decided to work all night even though I run a business from home. I would work until 6 AM so that I could get the kids ready for school and then sleep during the day, going to the gym when I woke up in the early afternoon. This meant the kids would get home only about an hour before I did, allowing for time with my family for the rest of the evening.
For others, that may mean training before work in the early morning hours. Doesn’t sound like fun? Oh well. You can’t give priority to your gym time over your kids and wife and expect them to be good with it. I cringe when I hear people tell their kids that they “have to go to the gym because this is what Daddy (or Mommy) does,” somehow thinking they will understand that you are a special Daddy.
2. Do not spend money on bodybuilding if it isn’t in your budget.
Even if it is in your budget, make sure that your spouse has just as much money to spend on things he/she enjoys as you do. Nothing will push a spouse away faster than if spending money is onesided.
3. Don’t assume your spouse wants to hang out with your meathead friends.
Diversify your friends, and even if you don’t like your spouse’s friends, pretend you do.
4. Don’t expect your spouse to be on a diet or to eat the same things you do.
It is YOUR passion, not his or her passion. Also, kids need to be kids, and even though having your kids eat healthy is important, they still need to eat like kids, too.
5. This one goes for ANY relationship, whether bodybuilding or not: Do more around the house.
Do dishes, do laundry, vacuum, etc.; do your part. If your spouse isn’t completely on board with your bodybuilding, it’s awful hard to argue with someone when he or she is cleaning the house. Plus, cleaning the house will almost always get you laid.
I do not pretend to have all of the answers simply because I have been happily married for 25 years. I do, however, think I have some insight that most do not and that most people can benefit from. There will always be exceptions to the above, but those in relationships that are the exception have found a way to compromise and structure their time so that their bodybuilding lifestyles don’t consume their lives and relationships. If all that matters to you is getting huge and ripped, good for you, but expect to stay single or in shitty relationships until your perspective changes. There are plenty of people out there who would be happy to spend time with your spouse while you are spending time with you at the gym. Just sayin’.