I used to be one of those girlfriends. You know the ones I’m talking about. The stereotypical girlfriend who is irritated their boyfriend would rather sit there and play a game with his buddies than sit there and talk about literally anything with me.
When my now-husband and I started dating, we were teenagers. Growing up in my house we had game systems and played video games but it was never a core part of our lives. Video games, however, played a much more substantial part in my husband’s life. And I knew this when we moved in together – I just didn’t grasp how different our views on gaming time were. While we were dating but living apart he would occasionally play games when I was over visiting but typically I would get most of his attention. When we moved in together and spent all of our non-working time together, I was in for a rude awakening of just how much he played games.
We joke about it now, but frigging Final Fantasy 11 almost led to the demise of our relationship. If you’re unfamiliar with that game, I’ll just sum it up by saying that back then you needed a group to be able to do pretty much anything – and getting a group could take HOURS (which felt like days and weeks to me). So all of my husband’s free time was spent waiting for a group and when he actually got in a group I could never get him to get off because he ‘finally got a group!’.
I was frustrated. I wanted to do things together. Of course in my mind I was thinking about things I wanted to do – movies, walks, shopping etc. but then one day he suggested I sit down and start playing this ‘new’ game World of Warcraft with him (we’re kind of old ok?). I was skeptical, to say the least. I was no ‘gamer gurrrrrl’ and sitting around playing video games on a Friday night seemed super lame to me. But I figured if I gave it a try he would be more willing to sit down and watch the OC with me (like I said, we’re old). Needless to say, it worked and I became enamored with gaming. Over the years, I mostly stuck to World of Warcraft but I could now understand his passion for playing games.
The best times are when we play together. We band together as a team, problem solve together and really work on communication. Yes, we are communicating dungeon battles or dps stats instead of typical marriage garb but it’s really all the same. Tackling a budget or downing a raid boss both can result in the desire to huck a keyboard at your spouse’s head. We work together cohesively helping each other overcome feats. If someone in a group has the audacity to crap on one of us, the other is there to defend the other’s honour. We have fun together and can escape the stresses of real life while not needing to escape each other. Now that we are old and have kids (did I mention we’re old?) hoping on a game once we put the kids to bed is an easy way to have a great date night without having to hire a sitter. Oh, you went to the movies with your significant other last night? That’s cool – we downed an undead King.
Does he still play more games than me? Yes. Do I still absolutely loathe FF11? Yes. Do I still yell at him to get off the damn game most nights (especially now that Fortnite has invaded my house)? Yes, absolutely. But I also can understand his desire to play and escape better now. And, sometimes he’s now yelling at me to get off the game and pay attention to him.
As Howard Markman, a psychologist who co-directs the University of Denver’s Center for Marital and Family Studies says, “the correlation between fun and marital happiness is high and significant.” So go grab your spouse and challenge him or her to a game of Mario Kart. -EJ