Wednesday, September 12, 2012

[Weekly Words on Women] The Wife

I've alluded to this one for a long time but it's finally here-

The talk on wives and what they do to their spouses.

I'm always frustrated by the assumption that a dude getting married automatically means that he is whipped (that their wives control their access to sex and freedom).

But I've seen it. I've seen that exact thing happen.

I just don't understand it when a guy talks about how his wife won't "let him" (or her) go out once a week for games, or 'doesn't approve', 'doesn't understand', etc.

I know I am 'not your ordinary girl'

but the idea that men need permission to partake in their hobbies, enjoy their passions and have time to decompress is astounding to me. The concept that men get involved in relationships where they are not partners and do not have respect and fairness given to them- it bothers me.

Marriage has never meant that I have the automatic right and authority to veto, control or otherwise interfere in what TheDude does. The idea is out there that marriage means exactly that- that I have a right to control him and his actions as an extension of being his wife.

There's an expectation that wives have the right to become the number one priority in their husband's lives; and that they should always be the top and most pressing thing on their husband's minds. Wives, merely by having said "I do", apparently inherit something deeper than a stake in their spouse's hobbies and free time (so says "popular wisdom"). Yes, we deserve time and attention from our spouses- but not at the expense of our husbands' sanity and well being.

As much as I want not to be last, I am not in favor of the automatic entitlement to being the ultimate priority in TheDude's life. It's just wrong to me to expect it.

It also seems obvious to me that if we as women want to be treated more like people and less like shrews, we need to ACT like it when we become wives. For the stereotype to diminish at all, wives have to behave in ways that challenge those perceptions.

This is one area where what we do and how we do it can and does actually impact the sexist stereotypes that exist about women; and we are just not stepping up to the challenge. In most cases, we are making things worse, and it's making those of us that are sane and loving look bad. Girls, get a motherfuckin' grip already! Here's some tips from an old pro:

A firm acknowledgement that our partners are adults; fully capable and willing to be responsible and caring to families and duties is paramount. The number of wives that have called me personally or called the store "because it's late" is disgusting and erodes any sense of primacy that their spouses my hold.

Part of treating your spouse like an adult is deciding before he goes to the game store what your budgets can handle and what your priorities are. (HINT: they should include hobbies for BOTH of you once you have some disposable income.)
It's pretty disheartening to see a guy all jazzed up about a purchase, excited for the fun times of playing the game ahead, and then watching him damn near shuffle to the register, complaining that his wife will "kill him" for making said purchase.

Ladies, if you married a geek; get used to it. He's going to buy geeky things. Either you like this about him or you don't, but trying to change him is NOT going to work. It's one thing if you don't have the funds (and I know a few guys that are still pretty broke); but an entirely different one when you complain about his $70 game and you have a NEW Coach bag (and not one from the outlet store, either). Making your spouse feel guilty for staying at home (or the game store), hanging out with friends, laughing and having a good time instead of going out drinking, carousing or otherwise being irresponsible is not going to win you any "brownie points" or gain you any favor in his or other people's views.

How you treat your spouse in public, and how he talks about you is another essential aspect to being more than "the wife"; and being the woman your husband's friends respect and admire. Freely and willingly understanding that your partner has interests, passions and friendships outside of your relationship is going to go a long way with him and those around him. We all notice when he rolls his eyes when you call or come in "to check in". If he's happy to see you, he talks about you respectfully and you treat him the same way; we notice too.

It's the women that don't act this way, and the men that let their wives get away with it, that harm the reputations and opinions of wives among the gaming kind. It's the compromises of time, attention and hearts that make marriages work' and women- you have to do YOUR part too- or you ruin your man.

It's the men that are married to women who exert control (voluntary or just implied) over every little thing in their spouse's life that make this reputation so strong, and it's hard to deny when we see some of our friends turn into someone else due to a woman's influence. Our fun-loving and silly friend becomes a grouch and a miser, and it sucks all around.

Giving consideration goes both ways, and I hate to see a guy giving up so much that he essentially disappears. It isn't right or fair, and it hurts women when it happens. It turns us into villains and makes us something to fear; which propagates sexism and chauvinism. I wish more ladies saw this for what it is, and worked to dispel the suspicion around us- but I can only do so much.


  1. Never, ever act or make your decisions based on what people are going to think of you. People-pleasing is a colossal waste of your time, and mental health. Don't ever do it.

    Your husband's gaming buddies don't like you? To hell with them. Your husband's gaming buddies think you're the shrew in the relationship? To hell with them. Your husband's buddies think you're ruining him? To hell with them. Your husband's buddies watch and listen to how you speak and interact so they can judge you? To hell with them. Your husband's buddies don't understand the dynamics of your marriage? To hell with them. (Note: "gaming buddies" can be replaced with plenty of other things like co-workers, in-laws, students, friends, etc)

    Gamers are obsessed with their hobby. Whatever remotely infringes upon their happy gaming time is seen as evil, so don't feel bad if your husband's gaming buddies don't get your marriage. Your husband obviously married you for a reason (non-gamer and all) and in the grand scheme of things that is all that matters.

    Also, don't ever believe that your husband's gaming should be allowed to have more priority in life than you. This is part of being a responsible adult, learning to prioritize the many loves of one's life. Setting healthy boundaries in the marriage allows for hobbies and all that they entail. You married the guy, you know he's got his un-explainable reasons for wanting to sit around fantasizing bizarre scenarios. Then again, you probably have some un-explainable reason for your own hobby choices.

    "My wife would kill me if I bought that" does not necessarily mean the guy is whipped, or living in fear of his wife. Heck, I've used, "My husband wouldn't approve..." as an excuse to get away from pushy sales people! There are plenty of times I have used "my husband..." as an excuse to get out of doing something I didn't want to do. I know I am not the only person who's done this either. Most of us are hard-wired to avoid conflict and it's that much easier to pick a spouse to blame than to truthfully admit we're not remotely interested.

    And just to flip the coin on this ... there are plenty of gaming guys out there who've involved themselves with non-gaming women and reached a point where you know it is no longer viable to continue the relationship based on your entirely different hobbies ... but then you shrug and continue because you believe that with enough time you'll eventually turn her into a gamer too. Wives aren't the only ones trying to change their spouses ;)

    1. The point of this article is that, like most things in life, marriage requires balance, empathy, and understanding. Domineering wives that disallow their husband's hobbies due to self-centered or egocentric attitude can only be harmful to the relationship of the couple. This article isn't about rational limiting of spending or time management, it is about unreasonable expectations put upon the husband by a wife.

      My wife does not like 40k. She does not see the point of pushing around models and memorizing rules when there are computers to do it for us. However, she also understands that it is a hobby that I enjoy. So she indulges me, because she understands that marriages are about compromises. She plays 40k with me on months that I can't get out to see my gaming buddies... and I have to sit through Xanidu. Compromise.

    2. When you say, "The point of this article is that...marriage requires balance, empathy, and understanding." Your point I agree with 100%. If what you perceived as the point is accurate then I apologize for my hasty response. My post sprouted from what I saw as the point of the article: advise to women on how to appear more reasonable for their gaming husbands and his friends.

    3. Hey AM! Thanks for stopping by!

      It's funny; I see you gaming more often than I see your husband doing the same, though I know he is involved in the hobby as much as always.

      While this series took a short hiatus, it's generally been a series about the things I see as a lady and a gamer. I've talked about girlfriends and such before, and I've always backed away from the topic of marriage/wives until this week.

      You're right that couples should do what's best for them; but I sure would hope that it's "best" for each party to treat the other with respect and consideration.

      I don't always see that from either end of the equation- men are jerks as much as ladies are mean. I specifically notice wives over husbands in some regards. It's just how I'm wired, I think,

      No, women do not have to accept that their husband's hobby has higher priority than they do- but men shouldn't have to accept that they no longer get to determine what their priorities are just simply due to being married. It should be a mutual conversation with agreement and compromise from both parties.

  2. I'm one of the lucky ones who not only has an understanding wife, but also one as geeky as I am.

    I think where part of this whole thing stems from is the old bias that geek things are "wrong", "abnormal" or "socially unacceptable." People who view their hobbies in this sort of a light aspire to be "normal" - or to at least fit within the scope of "normalcy" as defined by their spouse.

    From there, depending on the relationship, they either completely shun their "geek side" or find an uncomfortable middle-ground where their hobby is "tolerated", and they themselves even believe that they're indulging in something "out of the norm."

    It's the fault of both sides... geeks should be able to stand up for their interests, and even if their spouses aren't interested, they should encourage them to enjoy their hobbies and not feel like they have to sneak out. It should absolutely go both ways mind you - hopefully the spouse has some sort of hobby or activity they're interested in that you let them enjoy.

    But yeah, I've seen my share of relationships between people where the man disappears from his friend circles to be with his gf.. and when things "normalize" he still feels like he's not allowed to indulge in his hobby... or flat out told he's not allowed to paint so the (water based) paints don't stain the (non-fancy) furniture.

  3. I can't respond to this right's too intense. I will say, however, that respect has to work both ways AND that this isn't just about geeks and gaming.

  4. I can't tell you how lucky I am. Wait, I can. The Lady Inquisitor may not play the hobby but thinks it's neat and loves the universe and background. She's also the kind of lady who says things like: Damn it! Resident Evil 5 is out and we need to get a playstation so I can get it. We'll then spend some time - when The Agent of Chaos is safely in bed - killing zombies cause we all know the family that slays together...We are currently using the game as a way to teach The Agent of Chaos how to count and do basic addition (using dice, etc). I, in return support anything she is into or wants to try out because of her support of my hobby and our mutual interests in video games and other areas. Finances can be tricky but if we can't agree what to purchase we both abstain until there are sufficient funds for both our interests. It's a relationship. We chose it. Try harder.

  5. GENTLEMEN....


  6. Status Quo people, status quo.

    Mrs The-Dice-Gods-Are-Hungry likes to bake and decorate cakes. I paint models. I also have to sit through programmes like 'Hart of Dixie', 'New Girl' and the like, but then again I get to go out for four hours every thursday and roflstomp some noob/get thrashed by a better player at my local gaming club.

    Her :"You spent how much on dark vengeance?"- Me: "quite a bit, how much did that new cake mixer cost you?"

    Swings and roundabouts, really.

    1. Mate, the price they charge for Dark Vengeance down here you bet hard questions deserve to be asked lol.

      But yes my wife has a range of varied and eclectic interests. It's candle making this week next week? Who knows...

  7. Awesome blog and post! I am really glad I stumbled across your blog and look forward to delving into more posts.

    Hobby money should really be the last thing a couple argues about. Money in a relationship should be a no brainer for people can muster the courage to deal with it. I too have seen the “being afraid to purchase things” situations occur.

    Dave's Guide to Guilt free spending:
    Our money theory is: All money earned is combined into "the fund", bills and expenses first, savings and investments, trips, and what's left over(ie hobby/fun money) is divided *in half* and is spent at the discretion of each partner however they want. That way neither person can criticize what it is spent on. Minis, games, books, and yet more minis, or cross stitch patterns, scrap booking supplies, the 100th pair of shoes, or a Coach purse. Or a spa. No Guilt. Once the money is yours do whatever you want.

    And it has to be HALF. This is key. If one person has more spending power with their hobby money it will lead to an imbalance. And inequity is the cause of a lot of the world's, and relationship, problems.

    Imagine after bills etc, that you have $200.00 spending money (because you're an awesome tax accountant :)and your spouse only has $25.00. What will happen when you come home with a 2 FoW tank company box sets, some paints, a new hardcover D+D book, the extended deluxe blue ray season of your fav scifi tv show, and she comes home with ...3 cross stitch patterns? One person has a treasure trove of delights and the other has -a couple of nice things. And she has to wait until next month to purchase the floss (aka thread) to actually make the project. Oh, and you still have $30.00 in your pocket.

    I don't care how much anyone earns: This is not fair. Imbalance will lead to resentment and cracks in the relationship.

    Equity is the right of both partners:
    To men who still make that typical "24% more than their spouse"(or more because of l33t tax prep skills): It's your wife, and you two are a team. She's putting up with a lot of crap from you, despite how awesome you are. Man up and level the playing field.

    To women who have broken the glass ceiling and make more than their husband: Awesome and congrats! You wanted equality? Here it is. 50/50. Deal.

    What if one person earns no income and is a stay at home dad or mom? They still get half the discretionary money. Taking care of babies and a household is a tough job and they deserve it. Equal share for equal partners.

    David S
    Minnesota, USA

  8. Money and Time are the Same Thing -or- My Gaming Time is NOT trivial to me:
    Like money, time also has to be negotiated. Each person should have some free time for whatever hobby or activity they choose to pursue. Same as money, if this is denied it will lead to resentment. Do people get to do whatever whenever they! Business and duties first, then some free time for *both* partners should be in order. Guilt free.

    [To me it seems like the women who clamp down on game time don't actually have much for hobbies. Husbands are their hobby and if the man is not around there is a vacuum. Opinions?]

    I would advise negotiating these things early in a relationship - patterns are hard to break. As men, we are trained (hope I'm not giving away a club secret) to “defer” to women. The old “yes dear.” This can lead to bottling up of feelings and opinions to avoid arguments, etc.

    Oddly enough, even though this societal pressure towards “yes dear” exists, in my experience, women don't want, or respect, a man they can walk over. This is why real life Pennys choose cocky loser dewds over successful Leonards (Big Bang Theory.) Any woman worth her salt wants a man with a spine, that will speak his mind, make decisions, and negotiate a middle ground.

    If two people can communicate these needs earlier on, they can avoid bigger blow outs later. Talk and negotiate needs, or lose part of yourself later. Your choice.

    Loquacious, thank you for a thought provoking post! Sorry this got so long!! :O

    David S.
    Minnesota, USA