Be a Gamer Wife; Not a Gamer Widow

The Couple Next DoorA common problem amongst many who game (especially MMORPGs) is “wife agro” or that the spouse/girlfriend of the gamer doesn’t like them playing or how much time they spend gaming. As a wife and gamer myself, I was lucky enough to be married to a person who has also loved gaming since childhood but a common problem we see with friends and family (and co-guildies) is that when only one is a gamer, the other often feels left out.

They actually have support groups for this sort of thing; “WoW widows” for those who feel they have lost their husbands to World of Warcraft and even SWTOR has some hate threads on the Internet from disgruntled women who feel they have lost their men to the game.

But one blog post I stumbled across was a little different. This wife talks about how she worked through the struggles with her husband and his WoW-playing in How I Became a WOW Wife, not a WOW Widow.

It’s a very long piece- nearly 2,000 words- but she says some things that a lot of women need to hear and honestly, a lot of men could do with reading it too so you understand where your woman is coming from when she nags you.

After being bothered over the WoW issue, she sat her hubby down and said something along these lines:

“When you hurry up and rush through spending time with me so that you can get online, you make me feel like I play second fiddle to your first chair. When I’m in the middle of managing a total meltdown from both kids and you’re off in your own world with your headphones on, somehow managing to block out the world around you, it makes me feel like you don’t care. When you spend every waking moment, especially while I’m home, online with these people you don’t even know, I feel as if I’m totally alone in this house, in this family and in this marriage. And frankly, it’s getting to the point where you might have to choose – me, or WOW.”

And because he loves her, he sat and listened. And because he had an interest in keeping his marriage intact, they discussed these things called “feelings” (maybe you’ve heard of them?) and they worked out solutions to the issues.

In this scenario, the husband was the stay at home dad and the wife worked the day job. She came home to a husband who just wanted to get through the nightly tasks so he could go escape into his video game world. She was jealous of this, partly because she didn’t understand it. She felt second rate to his online friends, like people he had never met were more important and their opinions more valid than hers. The resentment grew over time and she began to blame the game for what was in reality, a lapse in communication on their part.

This is a situation that happens every day when one half of a couple is a gamer and the other is not. One of the best places to begin to correct this is with communication. They talked it out, laid down some ground rules and she learned she had to get over her insecurities about certain things. He learned that when he was with his wife/family, he needed to truly be with them, not be on the countdown to doing what he wanted to do. Marriage has give-and-take; it requires balance. The best way to get your needs met are to talk it out. This doesn’t mean ordering your man to “get off those silly games” or telling your wife to “stop giving you gamer agro” but it means taking the feelings of the other person into account and taking an honest evaluation of how you can improve the situation.

I also highly recommend inviting your significant other to play with you. Get her in the game, show her the ropes and introduce you to her friends. This will reassure her fears that you have secret “SWTOR GFs” and show her that you want to bring her into your circle. If it’s just not her thing, well at least you made the effort to show her what it’s all about. And when she gives you the time and space to enjoy your game, you should give her the same courtesy and spend some quality, devoted time doing things she enjoys as well.

Check out the full blog post: How I Became a WOW Wife, not a WOW Widow for more info on her story and how they worked it out.

Do you have trouble from your partner for the time you spend in SWTOR, WoW or some other game? What seems to be the chief source of the complaint? What do you do to resolve it?

Lisa Clark

Lisa has been an avid gamer since she was old enough to hold her first controller and a game writer for more than a decade. A child of the Nintendo generation, she believes they just don’t make games like they used to but sometimes, they make them even better! While consoles will always be her first love, Lisa spends most of her gaming time on the PC these days- on MMOs and first-person shooters in particular.