Wednesday, October 7, 2015

8 Ways That Video Games Help Me Learn About Marriage

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.

Video games have taught me about the honest, loving communication that is crucial in marriage. My husband and I love to play board games together, and my husband really likes video games. So, on occasion, I join him in playing some video games. However, there is a definite limit to how much video game exposure (particularly Super Mario Bros., which I'm not a huge fan of)—and technology in general—I can handle. Instead of sitting there and trying to put on a good face while becoming disgruntled inside, I have learned to communicate. I’ve found that I need to bluntly tell my husband when I’ve reached my game-playing limit, and he is always glad that I can be honest with him.
From tumblr.

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
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! 


  1. I love this post! I feel like I have so much to comment on that I'm not sure where to start! At the beginning, I suppose. (I actually have to post it in pieces because I just tried to publish and it's saying it's too long, haha)

    "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..." Are you me? Seriously, are we the same person? Handwriting > typing for me ANY day. I have a million notebooks because I love to write by hand. Sometimes I can't even think properly about writing a blog post unless I'm doing it by hand first. Books, you already know I love those. I have such a huge love for tea that I have to have a separate cabinet in my kitchen JUST for my tea stuff. Tea pots, bags, jars of loose leaf, a bunch of different infusers, etc. I'm obsessed with Pride and Prejudice and have been meaning to read more Jane Austen but have yet to get around to it. My aunt bought me a set of Shirley Temple tapes when I was young because people said I looked like her (I had super curly hair when I was little). And as far as watching all those older shows... I grew up living with my mom and grandparents, so while a lot of kids were watching Disney and whatnot I was watching TV Land with my grandfather, haha, and so I'm starting to get Andy to watch things like Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley and whatnot. I mean, of course I watched Nickelodeon and Disney too, but I was always watching a lot of those old shows.

    Video games have definitely introduced me to things I wouldn't have otherwise bothered with, which I now love. Marvel, for example. I've mentioned to you before that I love Disney Infinity, and when the 2.0 version came out with a bunch of Marvel characters last year I was kind of bummed because I wanted more original Disney characters. But Andy had an interest in the Marvel characters so he started showing me the Marvel movies that had already came out, and he bought me the Captain America character for the game, and that eventually started what is now a really big love for Marvel, as you also know of! And now he's doing it again. The same exact thing happened when Disney Infinity 3.0 released Star Wars characters this year. I had never seen the movies, didn't really care for it, whatever, but Andy bought the play set for the game gave me Princess Leia, and I've had a lot of fun playing it with him so he's going to get the movies for me to watch. It's nice because it lets me join in on more of his interests, which turn into our shared interests.

    (part two is coming...)

    1. Haha oh my, further evidence that we are the same person, hundreds of miles and a couple years apart (in age). Oh, I am so with you on handwriting. I use my laptop primarily because I can type almost as fast as I think, and when I write by hand, I can barely read it sometimes because I’m trying to write so fast to get all my thoughts out haha  You have a whole cabinet for TEA STUFF??? That’s so cool!!!!! So I actually had never seen a tea diffuser until I went to college, where one of the guys I met had one. But, I’ve definitely been thinking about getting a tea diffuser in the future-especially when I saw a TARDIS one  So that’s pretty funny you mention the super curly hair. When I was 6ish years old, my parents had my siblings and I get our professional portraits taken for the relatives. Since I was obsessed with Shirley Temple, I had my mom curl my hair to be just like hers, and wore a Shirley Temple-esque plaid shirt and jeans kind of outfit. TV Land is awesome, and I’m kind of sad I never watched it as much as I probably should have growing up. Leave it to Beaver was probably one of my more favorite things to watch. Honestly, though, I didn’t watch many shows, but I did watch a lot of old movies, since my parents loved them.

      Oh, that is fantastic that gaming has introduced you to so many great things, like Marvel and Star Wars! I hope you like Star Wars. Do you like Shakespeare? If you like Shakespeare, I totally recommend Ian Doescher’s “William Shakespeare’s Star Wars” books. I just started reading them last night, and I am loving them!

  2. Part 2:

    We've never really had a lot in common with people our age. We don't go to bars (we aren't big drinkers... we may have a drink at a restaurant or at home from time to time but that's rare), we don't party, etc. so one of the things that we *do* do for fun together is play games. Like I've said, it's usually Disney Infinity, and it's really fun to play with him and build things together. Like, a while ago we made a toy box (I don't know if things like "toy box" and "play set" are making much sense to someone who doesn't play the game - sorry if I'm being confusing! Basically a play set is where you play Disney's pre-made game, and a toy box is where you build your own stuff) of Magic Kingdom. For a couple of people in our mid-20s it may seem a little immature but we like it. At least I do. He does those kinds of games with me, and then he has a little group of people who he plays Destiny with online, because I don't play that at all. So we're able to play together and yet he's still able to do his own thing.

    I laughed a little when you mentioned people introducing themselves by their gamer tags - I watched a video clip of Andy and his group playing Destiny and they were all referring to him by his gamer tag and I was just like "don't you guys even know each others names?" But nope, I guess not, haha.

    I don't know about the penguin sledding one, but all of the other gifs you used were perfect, they all made me smile!

    And lastly, I wish my fiance and your husband knew each other because Andy always wants to play Super Smash Bros with me and I'm just not into it. I've tried it once and it was so not fun for me.

    And I forgot to mention this before, when you first commented about your husband on one of my posts I mentioned to Andy that I have a blog friend whose husband is a competitive gamer and his mouth like dropped open, haha. He started talking about how good those guys are and such, so he was impressed!

    1. Oh man, why don’t we just live in the same part of the U.S.A.??? It would be so fun to hang out with you two. I think about that, sometimes, that my husband and I are just “different” in the realm of hanging out with others. I love parties, but on the rare occasion that we end up at parties where the main focus is drinking and small talk, I feel like a fish out of water! I like small talk, love parties, and I like the occasional alcoholic drink, but seriously-I just don’t know what to do with myself haha. But give me a game and I am so at home! This past weekend, my husband’s coworkers had a party. I barely knew most of them, but we all spent 10+ hours hanging out, eating pizza, playing games, and drinking pop. It’s funny how it may seem “immature” that people like you and I spend our free time playing games, but I think we’re way better off than people who want to do that kind of stuff but consider themselves too mature to do it haha 
      Oh gosh, yes! Before I knew what gamer tags were, I thought my now-husband’s middle name was Yardo, because it was on Facebook. “What kind of middle name is that?” I would wonder. But then I found out what gamer tags were, so it made a lot more sense. And yes, there are tons of people whose names I don’t know, but I hear all about them when my husband will talk with me about a tournament he attended or watched online. I’ve met some gamers, but I only know the actual names for like one or two of them.
      I’m glad that your fiancĂ© appreciates my husband’s competitive gaming! If Andy is into Smash, there’s probably a community in his area where he can play with people and get more experience. For me & my husband, while I like playing Smash a little bit with him, I don’t have the desire to play it for a long time. Yet, in the prairies of Oklahoma and Kansas, Smash Bros. communities exist!
      I’m so glad you liked this post! And that the gifs made you smile. I almost never use outside pictures or gifs, but I was like, “I feel like I just need some stuff to spice this post up, which may or may not have anything to do with the post itself” haha  Thanks for sharing all of this awesomeness! When I posted it, I actually was wondering, “Will she read it today? Will she read it tomorrow? What will she think?” ‘cause I remember mentioning this post to you like a week ago. So…I’m really glad that you like it! I am so thankful for the internet, so that we could discover each other!  :)

  3. I agree, we are much better off doing the things that make us happy rather than avoiding them because we think we're above them or something. And yeah I'm sure Andy could find people to play with but he doesn't have as much free time as he used to so his video game playing is becoming limited. He's a teacher, so even when he's not at work he's usually planning lessons or grading or whatnot. So if he's not playing with me, he's getting in some Destiny time with the guys he plays with online. Maybe one day I'll give in and play Smash with him. Maybe. (Probably not.) :) And yes I'm thankful we were able to discover each other as well! I really don't have much in common with people around here so I've been praying for some like-minded friends, and finding them online is better than not at all! It's shocking to find out how few genuine friends you have when you're planning a wedding and realize you have little to no one for a bridal party, haha. But that's alright!

    1. Oh wow, he sounds like a busy guy! Hopefully you two are able to find/make plenty of time to take a break from life, especially as you get down to more intense marriage and wedding planning in the months ahead! Oh man, so it's interesting how you mention that about friends & a bridal party and husband has some great friends, but he only had a couple really good friends that he considered for the role of "best man." Furthermore, none of his friends live anywhere close to where we got married. His one friend was set up to come down for the wedding, but then his life went crazy weeks beforehand, so he frantically contacted another friend to fly him down! It was pretty wild. Thankfully, we kept out bridal party super small (best man & made of honor were our good friends, and our few bridesmaids/groomsmen were siblings) so we didn't have to deal with a ton of craziness. I hope that everything works out and that you find people to enjoy all the wedding planning with!

    2. I'm an only child, but Andy has a younger brother and sister who I feel obligated to include, even though I kind of like the idea of no bridal party at all. So I don't know what I'm going to do there... probably suck it up and do what makes everyone else happy, honestly. I have a post coming at some point about why I don't care about having a bridal party. I've written most of it in my head but I've had absolutely no desire to do any actual writing lately :( Kind of in a slump, haha.

    3. There are lots of ways to involve people, so maybe you could always involve them in another way-the wedding party isn't the only way that people can get involved. Friends or relatives can pass out programs, be in charge of the guestbook, cut the cake, etc. My sister-in-law didn't really have a wedding party; she and her husband just had the 2 required witnesses be best man and maid of honor, and her friends and other family members didn't seem too upset to not be in the party. I look forward to hearing your thoughts about this! Oh man, those writing slumps are so hard! A couple days ago, I wasn't just in a writing slump, but an overall slump and I literally didn't want to do anything-it's a rough spot to be in. I will say a prayer for you!

  4. Yeah, I'm a little relieved that there are other ways in which people can participate, just in case we do decide to skip the bridal party. And that slump I mentioned goes wayyyy beyond writing, but I didn't want to take over your blog comments with all the trouble I'm having at the moment, especially not publicly. Thank you for the prayer though, it is desperately needed! Sorry to hear you were in a bit of a slump yourself :( Is it better now?

    1. You are welcome! I will definitely keep those prayers coming :) Thanks for asking! Yeah, my slump had to do with a couple different situations, but I took some necessary action & prayer, have a lot more peace now, and my husband brought home a gallon tub of ice cream, which always helps :)