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.
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:
- Be mindful of your wife/girlfriend, even though the game demands attention.
- 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.
- 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.