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Married mixed doubles partners: Meltdowns!

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Michelle Malkin
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Hubby and I have been married 27 years and have been playing mixed doubles together for 9 months. We often meet couples who absolutely refuse to play with each other. Definitely can think of many good reasons not to:

- Skill level gap too wide between you and your significant other;

- Different goals (maybe one wants to compete in tournaments and the other is happy just doing rec play);

- Pickleball is your "me" time away from spouse/s.o.

For us, our first few months as MXD partners were, well, ROUGH. Communication is key off and on the court. So is letting things go. And learning to accept each other's weaknesses. And embracing each other's strengths. And exercising humility. If you don't have the strong foundations of a healthy relationship outside the pickleball kitchen, things won't magically improve when you're down 0-9, missing your drop shots, popping up all your balls, or fighting over who shoulda-woulda-coulda covered the middle.

We passed the biggest marital pickleball stress test about 4 months in, when an "I got it! NO, I GOT IT!" tiff turned into a total public meltdown. You know exactly what I'm talking about, right? Hubby called a shot that was way over on "my" side of the court, but I ignored him. Didn't get out of his way. Swung and missed.

Oops.

Glaring and death stares ensued. Serves failed. Lobs whiffed. Volleys flubbed. The opposing team politely endured our awkward, seething silence, but not for too long. We were quickly pickled, refused to clink each other's paddles, and then stormed separately off the court. 

0-11. YEARGHHH! CALL THE DIVORCE LAWYER!

Somehow, we worked through it all as our kids snickered at their goofy parents fighting over... pickleball. We learned not to dwell on occasional communications mishaps. We learned to forgive and move on. We put "us" ahead of "you" and "me."

So now that I've spilled my guts out: Tell us YOUR favorite married mixed doubles meltdown story and share your tips on how to survive!

 

 

 

 

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Doug
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 Doug
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My beginner wife and I have not have any issues yet, but that's probably since I'm such an incredibly patient and loving husband. I try to force her to take as many shots as possible so that she gets better. Besides, if I start stealing her shots she might introduce the back of my head to her paddle. 😎  

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Michelle Malkin
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@driveserve HAPPY WIFE, HAPPY LIFE!

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Ron Sommers
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I try to not kiss and tell, but this one time I'll make an exception... Wife Carol played tennis in college. The extent of my sports involvement was I played guitar. Pickleball is my first foray into 'sports' of any kind as in I never 'teamed' up with anyone. 

I've learned it's best to not criticize your partner. She can play rings around me regarding placement, hitting, strategy.

For some reason 'coming up' to the kitchen was difficult for her because in tennis you 'stay back' for the most part. As expected, the opposing team would put the ball where she wasn't and we would lose the point. I would say "Come up! What are you doing back there?" 

Even though I thought I was being helpful she didn't see it that way. 

Now that I'm smarter and wiser and also an incredibly loving husband, although not as patient as some, I don't say anything about it. She is getting 'better' about the kitchen and I'm getting better at accepting losing from time to time. 

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Jesse Malkin
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@ron-sommers 

Like you, I find it frustrating to play with someone who won't move up to the kitchen. It might be helpful to think about why your partner/spouse is reluctant to move up. Perhaps she is afraid of getting hit by a drive shot. If that's the case, try doing drills where you hit hard drives to your wife and she blocks them. If she is nervous about being hit in the eyes, have her buy protective eyewear. Or perhaps she is uncomfortable dinking. This is a common issue among pickleball players with a tennis background. If so, do lots of dinking drills.

Other things that might help:

- watching videos of professional games together. Even if you say nothing, your partner will notice that the pros always come to the kitchen as quickly as posisble.

- hire a pro to watch you play doubles. Your partner may be more open to constuctive criticism from a pro than from you.

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JWN
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My best mixed doubles partner will not play with her husdband, who is also same level as each of us.

 

so no complaints from me......(my wife does not play at all).

 

Pickle On

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Rhode Island Jim
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My wife and I have been playing together for 6 years.  We had court issues early on, and they still pop up now and then, but pickleball has mostly been a very good thing for our marriage.  

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