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When I was younger I thought it would be impossible for me to date anyone who wasn't also a gamer. The idea of actually marrying a non-gamer seemed totally out of the realm of possibility. How would I keep gaming if I was married to someone who didn't care if I got to the next level or beat that difficult boss? Well, here I am married to a non-gamer with a baby on the way… And happier than I have ever been in my entire life.
There are no hard-and-fast rules to follow that can truly be applied to every couple when it comes to love and relationships. While it would be nice to say that there is some kind of strategy guide to love out there for you to look up on GameFAQs.com… there isn't. At least none that are extremely reliable and can be applied to every relationship.
So here, the week of Valentine's Day, I figured that I would share my own personal rules for gaming while married to a non-gamer.
#1- Never make them watch you game for more than a few minutes.
Sure, it would be awesome to play for another thirty minutes and get past that level that has been driving you crazy. The problem with doing that? Nothing if your spouse has been watching you play already and has a shred of interest in the game you are playing.
If they don't give the first crap– and lets be honest, they probably won't– then making them sit there while you play is a bit cruel. Sure, they should be willing to sit there and let you do what makes you happy, but relationships aren't always about what makes you happy.
Most of the time your non-gaming spouse will probably see you wanting to play games over spending time with them as a statement that you do not care about being around them at that moment. That may not be the case at all, but I personally don't like making my wife feel that way. That's why I stick to this rule.
Rule #1 also leads to the next rule…
#2- Only game when you are not taking away time that you could be spending time with your spouse.
This rule can be played with a bit more than the first rule. While #1 and #2 are similar rules, they are truly not the same thing. I only game when my wife is doing something else or when she's asleep. This works for me because I'm a bit of a night-owl anyway, but it does mean that I often give up a good night's sleep in order to game.
Now, I do game if she has something she needs to do that I don't have to be involved in… but I don't assume that this should be reversed for her and that she should have to find something to do while I'm gaming. Most of the time she is not at work or seeing friends she is looking to spend time with me. This does affect my gaming time a lot, but it also means that she would rather be with me than doing anything else. That's a pretty kick-ass feeling!
When she's doing something like cleaning or cooking I always like to help… that's not a game related rule, just one that I recommend sticking to anyway since it keeps you from having to hear the “you never help around the house speech”… and because its just the nice thing to do.
Now, I'm lucky because I own two 360's and two PS3's. I bought the second systems (way below market price) when I was freelancing so that I could game as much as possible, and the investment was highly worth the hit in games I was able to buy the year I bought them. I am not saying this to brag, only so that I can explain that when I get to game it is usually late into the night while remaining in bed with her. This keeps me from getting the “you never go to bed with me” speech that many of my married gamer friends get on a regular basis. This also leads to rule #3.
#3- Get a pair of headphones and use them.
Headphones are probably one of the best gaming investments I ever made. Since I already go to sleep with music on and because my wife almost always falls asleep with the TV in our bedroom on, all I have to do to game at night is slip the music on, start which ever system I want to play on and then plug the headphones in.
The music hides the sound of the controller getting used, and using the headphones means that I get the full aural experience of the game.
#4- Never spend more money on games than you do on her presents.
Seriously! I know that all the good games just happen to come out right at Christmas, but don't give her a $50 ring from Wal-Mart and expect her to be happy when you pull out the three games you bought Christmas week!
Now, you can get past this rule if you do what I do. I reserve and pay off my games over the course of the year with as many pre-orders as possible. When Christmas comes I usually manage to play most of the big titles… which might already know if you read my post where I reviewed every game I played in 2009… and still afford to give her some great presents.
My other trick to this is that I also pick out my wife's present early and pay it off over time as well. Most jewelery stores will let you do this, and if the one you are shopping at won't then you should probably find another store to shop at.
#5- Don't shove gaming down their throats and don't force them to play games.
This one is tricky because it is hard to not try to convert your spouse into a gamer. I only ask if she wants to try out any game I buy if I really think she would like it, and don't ever get mad if she ends up not liking it.
I almost had her one time when she became addicted to Fable 2, but she gave it up after a few weeks and told me that she couldn't play anymore because she was worried it would take over her life.
I didn't love that decision, but I had to respect it.
When I think about it– between the iPhone games she is playing now and all the DS games she has played in the past I am actually doing a pretty good job of converting her into a gamer… just maybe not into the type of gamer that is dying to go to GameStop with me every time a new Mario game comes out.
I'm sure some of you are looking at this list and telling yourself that you would never put up with living by these rules, and most of you probably won't have to. I am not endorsing this as a way for everyone to live. I'm just saying what works for me.
I'm 100% fine with these rules because they have helped me make my wife happy, and in turn she has made me happier than I ever dreamed I could end up when I was younger.
Relationships are not easy. They take work. There will always be bad days and good days. Hell, there will probably be bad weeks or months. What is most important is that you have to be willing to change the way you live in order you make your life together work. It is awesome if you don't end up having to do that and your life works perfectly with your relationship without changing a thing. But if you are not at least willing to if you have to then there is pretty much no point to even being in a relationship in the first place.
So what are your rules when it comes to relationships and gaming, and how does gaming affect your relationship? Comment here or post a blog under the tag Gaming and Relationships.