I am an old-fashioned woman. I love handwritten letters, musty books with yellowed pages, and good conversations about Jane Austen over cups of tea. Cary Grant and Shirley Temple movies filled many happy hours of my childhood, and vintage clothing websites always wind up on my computer screen.
There I stood on a Sunday afternoon, surrounded by flashy TV screens and the sounds of the buttons on controllers quickly clicking.
I, a bibliophile who dreams of Regency Era balls, married a competitive gamer.
Not only that, but I like the fact that my husband is a competitive gamer.
You may be thinking, But aren’t video games bad for marriage? After all, gaming is often slammed with negative connotations. Brigham Young University released some research in February 2012. Their study, which surveyed 349 couples, found that, overall, seventy-five percent of those surveyed wished that their spouse spent more time on their marriage and less time on video games.
In the beginning of our dating relationship, I didn’t think much about how my new boyfriend was a gamer. Then, I started pulling out the "my boyfriend is a gamer" card when I saw that it could be a good thing. For example, when one of my friends voiced disapproval in my dating status (because I had been on the path to the convent for years, and none of my friends in Kansas knew my boyfriend), I said:
My boyfriend plays competitive Super Smash Bros. Melee.
Oh, he’s all right, then!
So, the fact that my boyfriend was a competitive gamer won him points with some of my friends J As we continued into married life, I have made the shocking discovery: video games have been a great thing in my marriage. They aren’t bad in themselves; rather, they are a tool which could be used for bad or for good. To my great surprise, some of the most important lessons I have learned in marriage are due to video games.
Honesty is so important in marriage! I have found that many women often have this notion of two extremes in relationships: either we passionately pour out problem after problem to our husbands (or boyfriends), or we keep all of our thoughts and feelings pent up inside of ourselves. In fact, the study which Brigham Young University conducted found that many times, video games caused tension because of the interruption of bedtime routines or arguments regarding the games, not the game playing itself. This is a perfect example of how bottling up feelings, and a lack of good communication, can strain a marriage. Neither of the two emotional extremes benefits marriage, and as tremendous amounts of research have shown, calm, honest communication will help a relationship blossom.
Video games have taught me humility. Since I would far rather pore over books or tea than video games, it has been easy for me, over the years, to look down on gaming. In my mind, they were always an inferior activity, paling in comparison to handicrafts or heart-to-heart conversations. However, I have learned that just because I am not a “video game person” does not mean that gamers and their activities deserve my condescension. I have learned to admit that I can be very wrong in my judgments, and that I need to open my mind to see the bigger picture.
|This is basically sums me up: Regency fashion, outside, with a book.|
Picture from fanpop.com
The quality of humility is very important in marriage. I have joined myself to my husband for our entire life together, and I cannot hold my opinions or way of doing activities as superior to my husband’s. Marriage is not a competition where one spouse should be striving to be “better” than the other; it is a union of two people living, working, and loving together.
Video games have taught me to look past or release insignificant preconceptions. I always had a fairly negative preconceived idea of gamers. However, some of my friends in high school liked video games. They were cool people, and they didn’t only play video games, so I started to rethink my preconceptions a little bit. When I met my husband a few years later, I really began to see that while there are anti-social gamers out there, this stereotype does not ring true with several gamers out there. Many gamers have tons of interests besides video games, and there's also an awesome bond in some gaming communities. I had to ask myself: Would I shut myself off from another person because of my misconceptions about their gaming? Or, would I look past my preconceived ideas and actually get to know the other person? Our imaginings of what another person (or group of people) is like are not always correct, and looking past these ideas and actually getting to know others is an incredible experience.
|I love this movie!!!!|
There are so many preconceptions that you can have about your spouse or about marriage, but you just need to drop those and open your mind.
Video games have shown me that I can have fun in ways I never expected. While I enjoyed the occasional Wii or Mario Kart game when I was younger, as I grew older, I didn’t really have a huge desire to play video games. They did not seem like the kind of thing I would do for fun. However, the unexpected happened to me—I found myself liking some video games when I played them with my husband. The first couple of times I told my husband I wanted to play Mario Party or Kirby's Avalanche with him, I felt kind of sheepish, and tried to act like I was only doing it because I loved him...Actually, though, I was starting to see the value in dropping my judgments and having fun in unexpected ways.
|Penguin sledding seems like an unexpected thing to do, but|
probably loads of fun!
In marriage, unexpected things happen. When you say “I do” on your wedding day, you have no idea what the future holds. Sure, you can think you know what will happen, but life takes turns that you’d never expect. Instead of sitting around grumpy that life isn’t happening in the way that I dictate it, I’ve found that having fun with the unexpected is a better way to go J
Video games have taught me the importance of change. For most of my life, knowing that “I am not a video game person” meant to me that I could never even consider becoming a “video game person.” Why would I want to change myself, if I already liked how I was?
When two people get married, they can’t remain stagnant—they need to open themselves up to change. They shouldn’t expect the other person to conform to them, but they should work together to love and sacrifice for each other, continually giving of themselves and growing together.
Video games have taught me how to step outside of my comfort zone. Yes, sitting down with a controller and playing video games was an initial step outside of my comfort zone. Walking into a room where people introduce themselves by their “gamer tags,” and not their actual names, can be weird at first to a non-gamer. However, learning to stretch myself is a good way to love without limits, and to learn how to interact in different situations with different people.
In marriage, you have to learn how to step outside of your comfort zone. It’s not just “me & Netflix” anymore, where you can cozy up in your pajamas and block out life, responsibilities, and accountability (well, occasionally, life still looks like that…). Nope, in marriage, you have to be a living sacrifice of love to your spouse each day, and that’s not always the most comfortable thing in the world—but it’s so worth it.
Video games have shown me the importance of having my own passions. I like some video games, and I love playing them with my husband. However, they are not a huge passion of mine. When my husband started attending gaming tournaments as a married man, I took those chunks of time for some good ol’ self-care. While he loves playing Super Smash Bros. Melee for hours with other gamers, I prefer to binge watch 1960s Batman or random musicals and crochet (or knit) with geeky patterns.
|All work and no play makes for a dull life!|
There’s a tendency that I’ve had before (maybe it’s a female thing? Maybe it’s just me?) to be “all things to all people, all of the time” and give give give, without ever taking time for myself. The temptation to work all the time on projects, household chores, responsibilities, and making sure that “everyone is cared for” is real, folks. However, living like this will inevitably cause massive burnout, and isn’t good for anyone! Having and developing my own passions is so important for me and for my marriage. When I take quality time for myself, I am much happier and fulfilled, and this spills over into marriage and positively affects the relationship that I have with my husband.
Video games have helped me grow closer to my husband. He’s a competitive gamer. He speaks the language of gamers. For fun, he watches videos of other people playing Super Smash Bros. Melee or Super Mario Maker. Learning more about video games and his passions brings me closer to my husband. Even though I’m bad at remembering everything that he teaches me, I still love how my husband will patiently go through different terms (up tilt, down smash, rest, etc.) so that I’m not totally lost, and can actually communicate with him about gaming. Over the weekend, I spent time reading Scottish-themed murder mysteries while my husband watched Big House 5. I would put down my book at times and watch parts of some rounds with him, and he would listen to me share about the plot lines of the books I was reading. It was a great way to grow closer to each other, have fun, and share our passions.
|It's all about community!|
Growing closer to one’s spouse is so important in marriage. Being able to genuinely share and take interest in what each other does can be a great way to bond. My husband doesn’t have to love watching musicals, and I don’t have to love competing in gaming tournaments. But, we still take interest in what each other does. I’ll excitedly tell him about a great movie I saw, and he’ll share about an intense match he was in. It brings us together, and it’s totally awesome!
I never thought I’d say it, but there it is—8 ways that video games help me learn about marriage. Every person has certain activities or passions which may not interest us at all initially, but I have learned the importance of stretching myself to discover another person and his passion. We don’t need to be as fully passionate about another person’s activity as he or she is, but we can cultivate a deep respect and understanding for what another person does. Seeking to understand and respect each other can draw two people together in a special way. Loving another person is exciting, and marriage is quite the adventure. Practicing humility, communication, releasing misconceptions, and stepping outside of our comfort zones can be hard, and require vulnerability. Yet, these areas—and all of the others I mentioned—can really nurture a marriage, and change a person’s entire outlook on his or her relationship!