My father grew up in Queens, New York, just down the road from Shea Stadium, the original home of the New York Mets. His underpaid summer job as a teenager put my own stints as a lifeguard and a camp counselor to shame: He was a hot dog salesman for the Mets. While perfecting his sales pitch -- he found out that "franks!" worked as well as "hot dogs!" and was easier on the voice -- he also watched his home team perfect its game. Before his eyes, my dad saw his team transform into the Miracle Mets, winning the 1969 World Series against all odds. They were more than just a team for our family; they were a culture. We saw dozens of games together, mapping each play on our scorecards.
So you can imagine my dismay when I realized that the man I was going to marry was -- gasp! -- a Philadelphia Phillies fan. Even worse, he was an Eagles fan. Needless to say, this didn't go over well with my family, who were the ones screaming J-E-T-S at the top of their lungs every Sunday.
For the sake of any other Philadelphia fans reading, and in order to keep the peace in my household, I'll spare you the disparaging remarks I made when I found out. A decade later, though, I've come to terms with his right to make his own choices, no matter how incorrect they are. After talking with other families who have survived and thrived under these tricky circumstances, I offer some tips to help you stay strong when your partner is rooting for the wrong team:
1. Prepare for negative reactions by your families when they find out. Many families will simply be in shock and may try to convince you that you're making a terrible decision. "My family said to stay away from her, she's bad news," said Sean Douglas, an Air Force veteran and a motivational speaker who roots for the Detroit Lions while his wife roots for the Green Bay Packers. He didn't heed their advice, and now he's about to celebrate his 10-year anniversary with his wife Candi. Some families may never understand; stay strong.
2. Start talking early about how you're going to raise the children. This is one of the most complicated questions that arise. Some people raise their child with one team to maintain a purity of thought, while others think that both parents can get their way. Why not have two teams to root for and give yourself better odds of picking a winner? L'Oreal Thompson Payton, a writer and a Baltimore Ravens fan married to a Cleveland Browns fan, argues for another option: matrilineal descent. "We don't have kids yet, but I feel as though they should be Ravens fans because I'll carry them for nine months!" Fair point.
3. Avoid a passive-aggressive approach to decorative memorabilia. Instead, go for all-out aggressive. For every poster your partner puts up, put up two of your own. It's really the only way to keep your sanity. Take it from me; eventually, they'll get the point and they'll give.
4. Build a team of like-minded friends. Lori Ruggiero, senior vice president of a communications agency and a Mets and Jets fan after my own heart, is married to a Yankees and Giants fan she used to go to games with. She learned her lesson after they went together to a much-publicized 2013 Mets-Yankees game where Luis Castillo dropped a pop fly hit by A-Rod, handing the game to the Yankees. Now, she goes with fellow fans instead so that they can celebrate or commiserate together accordingly.
5. Warn your neighbors. You'll both probably do a lot of shouting at the television, especially if your respective teams play against each other. It might be a good idea to tell your neighbors so that they don't spend the duration of the game wondering if they should knock on your door and check to make sure everything is OK.
6. Find common ground, or things to appreciate about both teams. Just kidding. Of course they have nothing in common, because your team is great and your partner's is awful. Honesty is always the best policy in a relationship, so give it to your partner straight: Their team is going down!
Jessica Levy is a freelance writer and a die-hard Mets and Jets fan. She would like to remind everybody that the Jets technically play in New Jersey, her home state. Follow her on Twitter.