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Subject: Seeking Advice: When a Gamer Marries a Non-Gamer… rss

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Smatt Read
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I am seeking advice. I am specifically soliciting advice from all of the BGG users who are currently in a Gamer/Non-Gamer relationship, as their insight will be the most relevant. (And just for the record, this is not about me.)

The Background

I have a couple of friends. Let's call them D and J. They are married. D is a gamer; J is not.

How do I know that D is a gamer? He managed a game store for over a year. He plays many different types of games. He's a highly competent and competitive game player. He also designed and produced his own game over the course of a year.

How do I know that J is not a gamer? Let me first state that J likes games. She's played many. However, at her own admittance, she just likes playing every once in a while. Games themselves are filler to her on a rainy day and at family reunions.

The Problem

For the better part of a year, J has prevented D from going to game night. (Insert appropriate group gasps.) We've heard dozens of excuses, but it boils down to a few things: 1) D wants to go, 2) J doesn't want to go, 3) J refuses to do separate activities.

These are assumptions, but they've got to be pretty close to the mark. In the last year, D's attendance has dropped from every week to perhaps once every three months (and even then, it's usually when J is out of town).

Personally, I don't believe this is J's problem at all. I do think her attitude toward the hobby is unreasonable (especially in light of her husband's clear interest), but she sticks to what she feels.

D is passive. Perhaps that says it all. He doesn't put up much of a fight, assuming that it's better over the long haul to avoid such confrontations.

The Sought-After Advice

How do Gamer/Non-Gamer couples figure it out? What's your secret? Do you have fights over this hobby? What works and what doesn't?

If you have the time, please respond in detail. If you'd like to post as a direct communication to either D or J, please do so here. If you're the non-gamer half of a couple, your insight is especially valuable.

At the end of the week, I'd like to refer them to your comments. Thanks in advance for your help and insight.
 
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Andrew Nichols
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I had the good fortune to marry a woman who enjoys games, though she is not as into local gatherings at stores and homes and such as much as I am. Even better, we were both exposed to the hobby at about the same time, which was while we were dating. So far no correlation, I know.

What I do understand (we haven't been married yet a year) and suspect to be the root of the problem is the insistence of J that separate activities are out of bounds and the unwillingness of D to challenge such a statement.

It is unreasonable to assume that all married people will share exactly the same hobbies or interests. It is unreasonable to force your spouse to always go with you to joint activities. One or the other will get "more than their fair share" of their preferred activities, or both will be miserable and start to resent each other.

As I said, I enjoy spending a reasonable amount of time away from home, engaged in an activity that I find pleasurable: boardgaming. My wife, less so. But we compromise: we often game together at home, she has her outside events and I have mine, and peace is maintained as long as she doesn't feel I'm choosing gaming over her.

Hope some of that can be helpful.
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Chris Rudram
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I would advise you that discussing other people's marital relations in a public forum, and then pointing them to it is not a good idea.

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Chris Tannhauser
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As a 17-year veteran of the Long March with a non-gamer-turned-casual-gamer, I would say this problem has nothing to do with gaming or not and everything to do with their relationship.

While it is vitally important for the health of the marriage to cultivate separate interests and encourage each other in them, it is also necessary to find a balance in the give-and-take in such things.

As an example, I am a hard-core gamer. My wife knows this and supports me in this pursuit--she knows I love to game at least one night a week with the occasional full-blown GamesDay. I, in return, make damn sure she gets at least one night a week for whatever it is that makes her happy--be it a girls night out, a quiet night at home, or a full-blown date night. (GameDays are repaid with a full day for her.)

It all evens out--I do a little bit away, she does a little bit away, we both do a little bit together. (Family time is pretty much the rest of the time. Which we both love.)

He needs to clearly state what he wants to do (a weekly game night with the guys/gals/group/whatever) and in return he will give her whatever it is she would like in return--together time or her time to go do whatever.

Though I can't tell from way over here, it could be that she enjoys yanking on his leash just to show she can... and this is an entirely different problem.

Good luck to all of you,

Chris
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Todd Pytel
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smattathias wrote:

3) J refuses to do separate activities.

Well, this is the issue and it really has nothing to do with games. It's all about what people's view of marriage and domestic life is. Personally, I find the thought of marrying J incomprehensible. My wife and I do things together, but we very often (probably more often) do things separately. I'm a gamer and a computer geek and my personal time reflects that. She's a nationally competitive cyclist and spends her spare time accordingly. If either of us were to forbid the other from participating in our respective hobbies because he/she wanted "couple time" and wanted it *now*, divorce papers would be filed, and that's not an exaggeration. We can't be happy, stable individuals if we can only spend time as a dual entity.

On the other hand, I have a good friend who's just the opposite - he and his wife do absolutely everything together and he forsakes his own personal interests (and she hers) whenever their free time coincides. I find that totally alien and oppressive, but they've been married for 7 or 8 years now and seem very much happy and in love with one another.

It sounds to me like you're jealous of J monopolizing D's time and/or concerned about D's happiness. Both of those motivations are understandable. But you may have to accept that this couple's views of domestic life (like my friend's) will inevitably conflict with what you want from them. Alternatively, maybe your friend really is deeply unhappy with this situation. In that case, digging at the issue is pretty directly going to pull at their marriage, and you will be the one responsible whatever your good intentions may be. Either way, this seems to me like it's none of your business - this is an issue that J and D will have to work out on their own, if it's an issue for them at all.
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Chris Jeris
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smattathias wrote:
3) J refuses to do separate activities.


I don't think this issue has anything to do with games. Neither I nor my wife could have married someone who prevented us from pursuing a recreation they weren't themselves interested in on the grounds that recreation must be carried out together.
 
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Davido
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Re: Seeking Advice: When a Gamer Marries a Non-Gamer…
What HiveGod said. My gaming had pretty lapsed through grad school, early career, and marriage. For 4 years, we only had 1 car, and my wife was a new driver. So any game time, meant leaving wife (and daughter) "stranded".

Upon moving, we got a 2nd car. One thing that we discussed beforehand, was my getting a 'game night'. Now that my daughter is in soccer (on game night), I alternate soccer w/ game nights every other week. When it is a 'soccer week', I do a 'game day' where I go to a Saturday game day for a couple of hours.

In return, wife gets to sleep in on weekends, and gets 1 'outing day' e.g. shopping, movies etc.

And yes, 90% of the week is family/daughter time.
YMMV
 
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Joe Saul-Sehy
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Quote:
discussing other people's marital relations in a public forum, and then pointing them to it is not a good idea.


I have nothing to add to what Hive said....he's right on with what I believe. More importantly you need to follow the quote above.

DO NOT send them to read this. Not only will you probably lose a friend...but if you don't, you'll definitely lose any respect from his spouse.
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Guy Riessen
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Domino Man wrote:

DO NOT send them to read this. Not only will you probably lose a friend...but if you don't, you'll definitely lose any respect from his spouse.


Yes you will. This will actually solve nothing--no matter how much enlightened advice is given. If D does not seek the advice himself, and J does not seek the advice herself, everyone involved will be offended and hurt and angry. Don't tread here, this is for them to work out on their schedule.


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Have faith
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My two cents:

I think spouses should "let" each other have some time to follow their individual interests. It sounds like the non-gamer is being unreasonable in not letting the gamer have go to gaming nights, at least some of the time (once or twice a month?). Of course, I'm biased in this case, being a game fan myself. But my general opinion would be the same whether it's about gaming, skydiving, button collecting, etc.

My wife likes me to do things with her. She hates to do things alone. But she sometimes sacrifices her preference for my happiness, and I try to do the same for her. Marriage involves a lot of compromises. It's the price you pay for all the benefits of marriage.

Maybe the non-gamer could do a little more gaming together than she would prefer (at least it's together time), and the gamer could compromise in some other area that's important to her.

That being said, they are going to have to work out what works for them.


 
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Susie Rogers
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Is D unhappy with his marriage and the way this is working? Has he spoken with you about it and asked you for advice? I don't know. You didn't mention that, but I think those are important questions.

Other than that, I don't have any advice for you. Just make sure your advice is wanted before you try to meddle.
 
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Joel K
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If I had the ability, I would give 5 thumbs-up to the three consecutive posts starting with Odinsday. Tread lightly.....very lightly.
 
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Jonathan Tang
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smattathias wrote:
1) D wants to go

Are you sure about this?
Perhaps he would rather spend time with her than play games? If he really wanted to go gaming, I'm sure he would've worked something out with her.

Maybe you just need to accept that his priorities have changed, and that he doesn't view gaming as being that important.
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Ben Foy
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Plenty of times, avid gamers fall in love and are never seen again. Its just a fact of life. Just cherish the 4 times a year you do see him. Piss his wife off and you will never see him again. There may come a time when his lifestyle changes and he has more time for gaming. Hope for that and be patient. Especially since they may have kids and you might not see him for several years.

Case in point, I had a friend who got married and had kids. There were whole years I didn't see him. But I was very nice to his wife and kept in touch and eventually his schedule changed for the better. Then he went for his masters degree and no gaming for several years. But his oldest is starting college, soon all his kids will be leaving the nest! Of course, I now have kids so I might not be able to enjoy it...
 
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Rusty McFisticuffs
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jttm wrote:
Are you sure about this?
Perhaps he would rather spend time with her than play games? If he really wanted to go gaming, I'm sure he would've worked something out with her.

Maybe you just need to accept that his priorities have changed, and that he doesn't view gaming as being that important.

jttm has it right. "Gee, I really want to go to game night, but she won't let me" is a lot easier to tell your friends than "I don't really want to go to game night."

(I was going to say, why not have D host game night at his house? That way, D is there, and J can participate or not--that's the way my non-gaming wife prefers it--but that was before I saw jttm's post.)
 
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