I’ve talked about my ideas on balancing the budget for video games, and shared a fantastic post about marriage and video games, but I haven’t gone too into depth about my own experiences. Now you’re in for a treat.
Not to brag or anything but my wife is pretty awesome for a multitude of reasons. She encourages me to do more with myself (like persuading me to finish my degree), she allows me to indulge in my hobby, and she inspired me to start my blog. It’s needless to say that she deserves a great deal of credit for many of the positive changes in me.
A MATCH MADE IN (GAMING) VALHALLA
Jennifer and I are probably what many consider to be fanatics of video games, myself more than her, but still.
She has a wide breadth of interests. She loves to read, so much so that we have multiple bookshelves full of all of the different stories that she’s read and a trip to Barnes and Noble is more of a treat than going shopping for clothes or jewelry. She loves to write, which prompted her to not only start a blog of her own, but a second one as well. She even writes articles for our university’s newspaper.
I’m a different animal. I live and breathe video games… That might be a little extreme. I do love video games though, almost to a fault. Not much could make me happier than to sit down and play for hours on end. I love getting lost in games and immersing myself. Sure, I still love reading a good book and doing other things, but gaming still takes the cake.
The neat thing about my relationship with my wife is that she totally understands my obsession (sometimes). She’ll let me play my games while she watches Arrow or Doctor Who, or reads. Here lately she hasn’t been gaming that much, but we’ve been busy. We’ve struck a fairly good balance of things, but it wasn’t always that way.
THE BREWING CONFLICT
My wife and I met because of video games. I know that sounds pretty unrealistic but we really did. She even wrote a blog post about that night. As a result of that, we started things with an understanding that gaming would probably be a part of our lives. However, Jennifer and I had different understandings about what that would mean.
You see, Jennifer has an amazing grasp of time management. She uses a planner, completes her assignments on time, and can remember important dates and times very easily (probably because she uses a planner). She’s organized and put-together. All things that I’m not.
That didn’t play a major role in the issues of managing our time together though. Skyrim did though.
You see, when Skyrim released on November 11th, 2011 (11-11-11!), we went to the midnight release at our local GameStop and bought two copies, one for each of us. I had to work the next day, so playing the game was out of the question that night. So I took her back to her house and I headed home. I headed to work the next day and went over to see Jennifer after I got out, but Skyrim was beckoning.
I don’t remember the exact details of the intervening events, but we fought over me playing Skyrim quite a few times. To give some context, my 360 and TV were in the concrete-capped basement which blocked out cell signals. So when I played my games I couldn’t receive texts or calls, which upset my then-girlfriend. To me, I was just trying to play my new game but she wanted my attention. When I would go long periods of time without talking to her, she would get upset, which would make me upset. I felt that I had to choose between talking to her or playing games, despite it being completely possible to do both as long as I checked my phone every so often.
As you can likely guess, that isn’t what I did; we fought instead. I did what I thought was a decent compromise and told her that I wouldn’t play the game, which obviously didn’t help. I made my choice out of spite and that made her feel guilty.
That wasn’t the last time we had that argument. I can remember the others too: Dead Island and Far Cry 3. My reaction was always the same too. I acted like I needed to stop my hobby altogether.
My previous relationship and the majority of people who commented on my hobby cemented in my mind the idea that once I got serious with someone, gaming had to stop. My girlfriend before I met my wife demanded that I never play when she was around. She viewed my interests as childish and something that would eventually end, and just to give you some idea of why she felt that way, she had a history with being ignored because of video games by her significant other before me.
I carried that baggage into my relationship with my wife. She had the best of intentions. All that my wife ever wanted was to be first in our marriage, and I wasn’t delivering. I didn’t see it that way because every confrontation took me back to the days of previous relationships.
Fast forward to today and we’ve been through several more arguments.
I can’t really pin down a specific moment that was the catalyst for change, but I do remember us having a fairly heated exchange. Once again, she reminded me that she wasn’t asking me to stop playing altogether, but somehow it stuck with me. I realized that me “quitting” my hobby wasn’t honest. I wasn’t doing it for her; I was doing it to her. I was punishing her with guilt.
Then I thought back to our premarital counseling. Our pastor spoke of something called a “love bucket”. He told us to ask each other how full our love bucket is on a regular basis, and to seek out opportunities to fill it. I had an epiphany of sorts. That my wife would seek to fill my love bucket with time for my hobby, and I could fill hers by showing her that I loved her by spending time, unplugged, with her. We started this some time ago by shunning cell phones on dates (as well as still going on dates) and have continued this trend.
So what’s the plan, you may ask?
First of all, I’ll continue seeking out things to fill her love bucket. Not to get too sappy, but going on dates, performing sweet gestures like making her dinner or cleaning up around the house, cuddling and watching a movie with her; things like that.
Second, I’m going to try to remind myself that while I love my hobby, I love her more. Video games may entertain me but she makes me a better person.
Lastly, I’ll attempt to see things through her eyes. My biggest failing as a husband to her has been my tendency to only see how she makes me feel. I often find myself neglecting to consider how I make her feel and that needs to change.
So that’s what I had on my mind these past few days. Admittedly, it has a far more serious tone than the rest of my stuff, but I hope it helps.
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