Having been born in the mid-eighties, video games have always been a part of my life. From the time I was young I loved to play any game that I could get my hands on: Super Mario Brothers 3, Sonic, Donkey Kong, Tetris, you name it. But as I grew older I found that I tended to stick to playing only one type of video game. So when I met my husband in 2003, I learned early on that he loved video games just as much as I did, but it wasn’t until about five years ago that we realized that it was something that we could do together.
Before that sometimes it felt like video games could separate us: we would spend too much time playing video games alone, apart from each other. We were both guilty of doing this and it made me upset because I felt that he was choosing video games over me and I’m sure that he felt the same way about me. So my husband and I talked and decided that we had to have some balance in our lives. There had to be a way to do the things that we loved doing separately, as well as making sure that we were spending time together and building our relationship.
Lots of people today feel as though our society has become too obsessed with things like technology, social media, and video games—and I agree that they can bring some challenges to relationships. But too often people conclude that video games and healthy relationships cannot go together. They feel they must sacrifice one for the other. However, my husband and I discovered that that does not have to be the case. It is possible to maintain a healthy relationship and still enjoy things that you enjoy. You might even find, like I did, that you and your spouse will have something new in common and that your shared love of technology can be a way for you to bond.
How did we discover this? First, we came to realize that even though my husband and I both love to play video games, it was the types of games that we liked that really prevented us from enjoying them together. I tended to stick to games where I played as one specific character throughout the whole game and he would play all different types of video games and was not a fan of playing as just one character. It wasn’t until I decided that I was ready to broaden my horizons that I saw games as a way to bring my husband and me closer together.
I watched my husband playing different video games and the fun and enjoyment that he got out of them. So I decided that I wanted my husband to teach my how to play games that I had never played before. We would spend hours together and he would teach me everything that he knew and I would just sit there taking it all in. Then we would end up playing the game together so I could show off everything I had learned. I saw pure joy in my husband’s eyes every time we would sit down together and I knew in my heart that it was because I had finally taken an interest in something that he enjoyed and actually found that I enjoyed it as well, not just for myself, but because I was enjoying it with him.
From that time on we decided that we would try to balance the amount of time spent playing games apart with time together. We purposely found games that we both enjoyed and eventually found that we work better as a team and also communicate better in our real lives when we take time to have fun together.
One of the most important things that you can do in your marriage is not let one thing dominate all of your time. It is possible to balance doing the things that make you happy as well as maintaining a happy and healthy relationship. Make an effort to find things that you and your spouse enjoy together and use those experiences to strengthen your bond. For me and my husband, some of our biggest bonding experiences happened to come from playing video games together, but everyone enjoys different things. Whatever you end up doing, you will not regret taking the time to invest in your relationship. And investing in each other does not have to feel like work—play can be just as important.