Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Working It Out

I've been absent from this blog for a while because I've been absent from my life for a while.  Working nights turned out to be my kryptonite - but I'm working days again!  I'm aliiiive!!

So a student wrote me recently & asked for some advice because her husband is becoming unhappy about her new dedication to training in Krav Maga.  This is something my husband & I briefly went through, and it's quite common.  It happens when either gender is a trainee, but it seems to be far more frequent when the trainee is female, because this sort of martial arts training is not "normal" for girls.  

Now that I've got a little distance from the situation as it relates to my own life, here's my take on it.

This is the trainee's point of view:  I can suddenly do things I never dreamed were possible!  I can be strong and fast, and I can fight through fear.  I get to go to a class full of people who like the same things I like, who support me when I want to quit - and let me support them.  I am so much stronger than I thought I was and it's an incredible rush.  I wish everyone could feel this.  I'm noticing how my new confidence is positively affecting every other area of my life and I want more.  

Their mate's point of view is different:  My mate used to act one way and now they are completely different.  They suddenly have a whole new set of friends that I don't know and can't relate to, since I'm not interested in all that "fighting" stuff.  My mate used to wear normal clothes & now they just wear sweaty workout clothes (or as my husband once dryly put it, "oh baby, I love that swishy sound you make when you wear your grandma track pants."  My partner used to talk about lots of different things and now its all about punching and kicking.  They're obsessed & they won't shut up about it!  They tell everyone ad nauseum.  And finally there is the undeniable intimacy of Krav Maga training.  (This, of course, applies to many other styles of training as well.  As my husband snapped at me, "you're rolling around on the ground with a bunch of guys who look like movie stars!"  I tried explaining to him "that guy is trying to punch me in the face.  That's not sexy."  But he wasn't buying it)  

Eventually something has to change or an agreement has to be reached between the partners.  Most people want their mate to come to class with them.  I got my husband to come once, just to see what it was like, and it helped.  But ultimately for us that was not a solution.  He knows how to defend himself and I really wanted this to be just for me.  He races mountain bikes and rides all kinds of bicycles many hours a week.  He doesn't want me around then.  It's just for him.  And I think that's awesome.  We all need a room of our own.

Here are some things I did that fixed our situation:  1 - I learned to shut up about what we did in class that night.  The truth is he was sick of it and didn't want to hear it.  It was hard because I felt like I was keeping a whole part of myself away from him and it hurt my feelings that he didn't want to hear about something that was so important to me.  But facts are facts: he was tired of hearing about it, so I needed to give him a break.  He still had to suck it up while I told every other human on the planet.
2 - He likes me to look nice & found Krav Maga outfits to be de-feminizing and unattractive.  I started taking ballet lessons a few months ago & took the opportunity to buy a bunch of ballet workout outfits.  Of course, any cute clothes would do. He loves it.  I get to wear athletic wear whenever I want & he gets to see me in cute clothes.  Win-win.  
3 - I told my closest guy friends/training partners that he was having a hard time with how we were always plastered onto each other and they understood completely and said they'd probably feel the same.  So because they are awesome they went out of their way to get to know my husband and to make him comfortable that they were good guys who would look out for me and not try to take advantage of me in any way, on the mat or off.  That was a huge help.  
4 - I got him to watch UFC fights with me.  At first he thought it was just about brutality and was repulsed, but since I insisted on continuing to watch he did, too.  As he learned about the incredible skill involved and came to respect the sport he ended up being an even bigger enthusiast than me.
5 - Finally, he came and watched part of my very first belt test.  He saw how hard I was working to overcome fear, frustration, exhaustion, and just the general desire to quit.  Those feelings never go away, by the way.  You just get better at overcoming them.  He saw the training itself had a complete lack of bullshit or baby sitting.  And he was really, really proud of me.  

He gets it now.  He likes my friends and know they have my back.  He likes how much stronger, happier, and more confident I am than I was before.  And I've learned how to take it down a notch and only tell him the stories that really matter the most.  

There are a few people reading this who might be offended.  They might think I should have just told him to zip it because I'm over at Krav class gettin' all empowered and he's holding me back.  But one of the things we learn in Krav Maga is you only fight when you have no other choice.  First try to solve a problem with your brain instead of your fists (or mean words).  If you can create a win-win, then why on earth would you not do that?