When I was in my early 20s and single, I was given some great dating advice from a very wise woman.
“Write your list, Jacki,” she said. “Write down your list of everything you want — and don’t want — in the person you marry. Refer to it often.”
(Before I go further, that was good advice then, and it’s good advice now. Sitting with yourself and being honest about your needs and wants is a great exercise. Good relationships are made all the better when you know yourself!)
So I made a list. I still have it in a keepsake box somewhere, on a small scratch pad with my old company’s logo in the top right corner. I listed all the qualities I wanted in a spouse — things like kindness, compassion, and humor. I also listed the things I didn’t want. Thankfully, I recognized this as the self-reflective exercise it was, and there weren’t many of those. But I clearly remember two qualities that made the “absolutely not” list: I didn’t want to marry a smoker. And I didn’t want to marry a Cubs fan.
As it turned out, I married someone who was both.
While I’m grateful to inform you that he has long since stopped smoking, we are 16 years into our relationship, and I think I’m stuck with the Cubs thing.
If you follow me on Twitter, you know I often speak of my husband, Wes. He’s my best damn friend, so any story I tell usually involves him somehow. He’s from the same southwest suburb as me, so I don’t know what evil befell him as a boy to make him love the Cubs instead of the White Sox.
But he does.
And I love the White Sox.
And neither of us is a casual fan of our team. (I always joke that it’s why we need two televisions in our very small home.) Somehow, we’ve survived. More accurately, we’ve thrived. We’re the most obnoxiously happy couple I know.
I have some advice for those of you considering a crosstown relationship. Some things to let go of, some things to do, and some lessons we’ve learned the hard way.
Being a White Sox fan married to a Cubs fan has taught me a whole bunch about tolerance. When I was young, I was the most meatball-y meatball you’d ever want to meet. I teased my Cubs fan friends mercilessly. (They deserved it.)
The thing is that Wes doesn’t fit the mold of what White Sox fans might imagine is the stereotypical lovable-loser-bleacher-bum-doesn’t-watch-the-game-at-the-game type. This dude knows ball. He probably knows more about the game than I do, so even if I tried to start talking some trash, he’d be able to burn me twice as badly. I ... you know ... what’s the word? Oh, right. Respect. I respect him.
So I’m less of a meatball these days. Out of respect.
Support each other
I was taught to hate the Cubs and to mock them at every chance. Now, I take a different approach:
I wish them well.
I don’t tease Wes when his team does poorly. This is the person I’ve chosen to spend my whole life with – why would I want to mock him purposefully? Nah. That’s bad spousal form. I’m supportive of his fandom. I was happy for him in 2016 when the Cubs won their championship. I spent a lot of our money sending him to NLCS Game 6. (We bought him a standing-room single ticket, and it was probably one of the greatest nights of his life. Well worth the price tag.)
And when I go to White Sox games, you’ll usually see him with me — usually, wearing a borrowed White Sox jersey or cap. He cheers with us when the Sox do well and groans with us when they don’t. He supports my fandom just as I support his.
I wish his team well – as long as they’re not standing in my team’s way.
Probably avoid the Crosstown games, though
One year while we were dating, I brought him downtown for the day, and we did all his favorite things. As we drove home to the southwest suburbs, I casually took the exit at Pershing. There was a Crosstown game that day, and I got tickets for us. (Surprise, honey!)
The White Sox trounced the Cubs that day.
People booed him on the way out.
I ruined the man’s birthday.
If it’s right, roll with it!
Did I think I was going to marry a smoking Cubs fan? No way. But life is funny like that sometimes, you know? Wes had all the qualities that I had listed all those years ago. So what if he likes another baseball team? The family we’ve made together is bigger than baseball rivalries.
Unless god forbid, there is a Crosstown World Series in our lifetime.
If that happens, I don’t know. We might get divorced.