• Leave No Spouse Behind

    So your husband or boyfriend has this hobby. Maybe he's gamed since before you knew him. Maybe he just picked it up last week. Maybe he was a casual gamer until he found TTP, and now you can't pry him away from the server OR the forums. I'm here to tell you what you can do to minimize feeling like a gamer widow without stealing the cable modem.

    Let's be blunt: the whole thing can be boiled down to one word: negotiation. No, it's okay, stay with me. Say it with me: negotiation, compromise, dare I say it, teamwork.

    Negotiation is a skill crucial to the survival of any relationship. Is the gaming computer set up in a room only he uses? Change that. If possible, arrange things so that he faces you while at his gaming rig, so that you can see more than his back. Otherwise, simply stopping to lean over his shoulder or ask what he wants for dinner gives you more contact - more intimate contact - than screaming into another room to get his attention. This goes doubly true if he wears sound-canceling headphones; wear them yourself while watching a movie and see how little you actually hear. It's entirely possible that he doesn't mean to ignore you, but cannot hear you. Putting his computer in a commonly-used room will also help with this.

    Further, negotiate times during which he will and will not play. Set aside some time for the two of you each night, or each week. In my case, this is usually an hour or two where we sit and watch TV or a movie that we both enjoy, or a few minutes here and there: while we make and eat dinner, while we get ready for bed, and somewhere else, often while he's checking the forums in between games. I find that his willingness to break his evening into hour or hour and a half chunks of gaming makes me much more willing to deal with the weekly matches or spending an inordinate amount of time on the forums.

    Learn about what he's doing. No, you don't have to know what guns are available to any given class, but being able to understand enough that your eyes don't glaze over is useful. It's not a crime to know what 2fort looks like when it comes up, and why everyone hates it. I promise you aren't violating the Secret Woman Code (guys, stop reading: there is no Woman Code, or if there is, I threw it out the window a long time ago), and you'll be a part of his life in another way. On a similar note, you could even try one of the games he plays - you might find that you like shooting imaginary people, setting traps, and talking with other disembodied voices. A note of warning: if you use your SO's Steam ID for these games, you'd better know and play by all the rules, because if you break them he'll get blamed.

    And, last but by no means least, find hobbies that you like and he doesn't. I knit and watch movies when I want something to be doing and Arreo's off on TTP. Shockingly, I even clean when I'm feeling extra-productive. Or I read. Or I surf the 'net. Or I do my online RP games. And that's just off the top of my head. If you're so wrapped up in your relationship that you can't take time to be doing your own separate things, you have other problems that are well beyond the scope of this article. On the other hand, if he's buried in online gaming from the time he gets home to the time he goes to bed six nights out of seven - and that's not what you arranged or are comfortable with - then you can hit him over the head and get him to talk to you. But you have to find a balance; this doesn't mean he can only play half an hour twice a week.

    There are also some distinct benefits to being a gamer widow. You always know where he is - he's not out drinking or flirting with other women, he's at home. Admittedly off in another world, but home. Also, you get the whole bed on nights when he's up late, which for an avowed bed-and-covers-thief such as myself is always nice. And, as previously mentioned, you have plenty of time to do things most men would turn up their noses at - I watched an entire bad SciFi series (I will not tell you the name, it's so bad) for a couple weeks while Arreo played TF2 and started getting back into CoD and DoD.

    Just one final note: if you are not living with him, and are going out on dates like a normal 20- or 30-something, and still feel like a gamer widow? In the immortal words of Dan Savage, dump the motherfucker already. If he can't be bothered to set aside gaming long enough to make you one of his priorities, he's not worth your time. Find another gamer geek who's more in touch with the real world.

    Disclaimer: This article is written for heterosexual women, primarily those in a live-in/married relationship with their male SO. This is not meant to exclude anyone; it merely reflects the trends I have seen over the course of six years' dating various gamers, as well as my current status, which is the best place for me to draw my ideas.

    Author bio: Adsartha is your standard 20-something liberal arts graduate who recently sold her soul to pay the rent. She lives with her fiancee, Arreo, their insane cat, and a costume freak of a roommate. When not writing, she can usually be found buried in piles of dice, knitting, and books.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Leave No Spouse Behind started by Adsartha View original post