Should Men Put Video Games Away As “Childish Things” For Their Wives / Girlfriends?

This essay was originally posted on JohnnyBGamer, and re-posted with permission of the author.

This tale is as old as 1989.

Boy meets girl. Girl dislikes boys hobby. Boy gives up hobby for girl. Girl gives up nothing. Swap the genders; swap the roles. Rinse. Wash. Dry.

I have known countless guys who have given up their favorite hobby due to a spouse or girlfriend who disapproves– I am sure that this is true for the female species as well. Once upon a time, these guys enjoyed playing videogames. They used them to drop stress levels, rest, and relax. For some reason though, chemistry, the alignment of the stars, who knows, they end up coupling with someone who disapproves/looks down upon their hobby. So they have to quit, have to walk away from something they love to be in love.

I just don’t get it. If you are in a loving relationship, your spouse or girlfriend should accept you for who you are. They shouldn’t be out to change fundamental parts that make up you. Sure, your bad habit of tossing clothes on the floor may need to be corrected, because let’s face it, your mom always cleaned up after you. Too personal? Sorry.

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Videogames are often seen as a less mature hobby than following a team of guys in tight fitting clothing. Huh? How is it that working on cars, following a sports team, or going hunting are somehow more respectable and less “little boy”? A hobby is a hobby. Videogames are no worse than stamp collecting. Except that unlike a stamp collection, video games deal with:

  • Complex realities
  • Connecting players through interdependent activities
  • Challenging players with complex decision making

My wife has been accepting of my hobby from the get go. She encourages me to sit down and play games. She realizes that I often use videogames to de-stress. As long as I am not playing World of Warcraft (the marriage killer), I’m golden. This does not mean that I play games every day of the week. Gaming for me, married, with a kid, looks more like a couple of hours a week. Some nights, my wife even joins me. I’ve always appreciated that about her. She loves me for who I am.

I am tired of those around me feeling guilt, having to change, just to conform to the person they love. If you are in a loving healthy relationship, your significant other will understand the healthy hobbies you chose to pursue.

Note: My friend Scott reminds me that the picture I painted above is painted by an individual who is loving, mature, and self-controlled–most of the time. Videogames, as with any hobby, can be distorted and abused in the hands of an undisciplined individual. In order not to feed into the videogame stigma your wife/girlfriend might view the hobby through, Scott suggests setting some ground rules:

  1. Be mindful of your wife/girlfriend, even though the game demands attention.
  2. Always be ready to pause. Pretty much everything is more important than your next in-game checkpoint, so put the controller down if you need to.
  3. Tell her how long you intend to play – and stick to the plan.

No matter the hobby, communication and respect are foundational to building healthy relationships. I want to encourage you to let go of any videogame guilt you might carry, set some healthy ground rules, and game on.

About Bryan Hall

Transplanted from the land of sun and surf to a place filled with pine trees and sweet tea, Bryan Hall is a man who has experienced God's grace. Wanting to influence the digital landscape with the love of Christ, Bryan writes from the junction point of faith, life, and video games. You can read more of his writing at his blog, johnnybgamer.com.
  • Finally! Someone gets it! No one should be forced to give up a (usually) harmless hobby for anyone. I appreciate Bryan’s honest but balanced look at the topic.

  • Jacob Porter

    can you change around the article to include teenagers? My mom hates that I play video games and yet she doesn’t realize I have tests and assignments and things that she doesn’t have to do. She tells me what needs to be done and I do it. But then when I’m playing video games, or even just loafing for an hour or two to prepare for an online test or whatever, she freaks out and completely throws any good things about my gaming out the window, beating it down until she makes me look like I’m a demon playing demonic games and not doing anything to further my education. I’m a Junior in High School. I think I should be allowed to make my own decisions considering the fact that I’ll be a legal adult in August.

  • Bryan Hall

    Hey Jacob,
    I just want to encourage you. Life won’t always be the way it is right now. Your mom may be seeing things that you can’t see, behaviors or whatnot that videogames are causing. One day you’ll be on your own and then you can make all the super fun decisions you want. In the mean time, I sympathize with you. If you can do anything right now, honor your parents, be respectful, listen. Don’t ruin the relationship you have. You’ll want that relationship later on in life…even if you don’t think you will right now. Trust me.
    Bryan

  • Great post Bryan! Shared this one on our GUG Community group, please check us out and see the comments it gets 🙂 I too am similar, married but no kids so I game like….a few hours a week, plus writing so that takes up more time 🙁 God bless ya