Relationships and WoW
Valentines Day is right around the corner, and any self-respecting gentleman will know this a prepare for it; especially if that gentleman is in a relationship. Whether it is a dating relationship, a strong friendship, or a long-time marriage, this day is just one that shouldn’t go unnoticed. So it is the case with my own relationship with my wife. We have been married for over 12 years now and our love for each other grows stronger every year. There are many factors that contribute to this, but one factor is often seen more as the bane of relationships than a cause of strength. Both my wife and I are gamers, and it is our love for one particular game that has helped to enrich our bond with each other outside of our gaming hobbies. That game is none other than World of Warcraft.
World of Warcraft has been around for over 14 years, and my wife and I have been playing it for 12. This game has been cited for hundreds of divorces over the last decade or so, and a countless number of break ups. Online forums are amassed with players talking about ruined relationships and broken bonds because of the addictive allure of this MMO. With so much negative influence this game has on relationships, how is it that I can make the claim that this game is one of the reasons why I am so in love with my wife. Well, we have to go back to the beginning to answer that question.
Finding Common Ground
Between the two of us, I am much more of a gamer than my wife ever was. I have played video games since I was just child, so games are practically ingrained within my DNA. On the other hand, my wife enjoyed watching her siblings play games. She would watch her brothers hack away at demons in Diablo, and build powerful armies in Star Craft. She enjoyed games, but they were not a big part of her life.
When we met each other in college back in 2005, I was already heavily focused on dorm room gaming and she was in the college music program. She has an amazing voice, like an angel, really. Listening to her, I was reminded of when I would listen to choirs in my home church. That was what initially drew me to her, not her involvement in video games. It wasn’t until after we started dating that I found out that she was interested in playing RPGs, which was a huge plus for me.
Our relationship was not founded on video games alone. I believe that is something that has helped our relationship become what it is. Both of us are involved in the church, we sing karaoke, and we game together. We found common ground on multiple activities and values and not just games.
Finding World of Warcraft
My wife and I learned quite a bit about each other during our first few years of marriage. We were living in a small duplex working full-time jobs and we found that boredom set in quite quickly. I was introduced to WoW by a friend, and since we loved the old RTS Warcraft games, we figured on giving it a chance. My wife hated the game at first, saying that it was too complicated. I would come home and sit down to work on my toon. She would sit in the front room and just fester. “That stupid game is taking my husband away from me,” my wife would think. I even remember her kicking the breaker on purpose to get me off of it. I was beginning to fall into that trap of choosing a game over my love. So I made a choice, I stopped playing.
It is interesting what happened next. I fasted from video games altogether for about 40 days, and right around that time my wife decided to take a peek at WoW herself. She started a toon and immediately found what I already had come to know; World of Warcraft is amazing! At that point, the roles began to reverse, and she started playing WoW heavily; much more than I ever did. I began to see why she had become incensed with my playing. I was learning how to empathize with my wife through being put in the same position that she had been in. It was time for something to change, and it soon did.
We found out that we were pregnant.
WoW, Kids, and Responsibilities
One would think that pregnancy and children would change our obsession with Azeroth, but it really didn’t. We were sharing a computer and an account. We actually had to take turns playing our toons, and we hated it. Burning Crusade was on its way, and we wanted to be prepared, and neither one of us were willing to work with each other. Times got rough with my job and we ended up moving and picking up a new position, this time in a youth home as house parents. We lived out in the middle of no where with a dial-up internet, so we ended giving up WoW as a necessity.
That was when we found our love for each other. Though we both loved to play games, we realized that our passions for those things were actually alienating us from each other. When our son was born, we found that our desires to play WoW and other games were not lost, but rather modified. We invested time in each other outside of WoW, and after moving back in town, we eventually picked it back up, but it no longer controlled us.
We would move from place to place, because as someone in the ministry, that is what often happens. When Wrath of the Lich King came out, our maturity as a couple had improved. Along with that, so did our financial well being. We both got laptops and started playing WoW with each other. That is when we discovered what World of Warcraft could be; a way to pull people closer.
Marital Enrichment in Azeroth
Every once in a while a little piece of advice will flash across the WoW loading screen that says “take everything in moderation, even World of Warcraft.” When my wife and I started playing with each other we learned very quickly that we had to both stop at points, especially with having children. Over the next few years, and expansions, we would have a daughter and eventually move again. This prompted us to set limits for ourselves. We decided to find guilds full of fellow parents; those who knew the value of casual gaming and did not pressure us to play more than necessary. We found a certain “zen” to our gaming, and that helped us to see it’s ultimate benefit.
In our own guild we became known as a power couple; the two gamers that were able to balance jobs, kids, and WoW. Right around the time Mists of Pandaria came out, my wife and I decided that we were going to only play the game in the evening after the kids went to bed. This became our nightly routine for years, and has continued to be so. We play with each other and not solo. When one of us is building an alt, the other hops on their main and helps him or her out. We are inseparable in the game, and that is because we are inseparable in real life.
Gaming Couples Can Work
For those of you who do not think that gaming within relationships can work, I want to tell you from personal experience that they can. My wife and I struggled with the lifestyle at first because we were not focusing on everything that made us a couple. We both love music and serving others, as well as spending time with family. When we broadened our lives to more than just games, we realized something greater about video games. You see, playing video games is about enjoying life and making friends. That is exactly what we have done through World of Warcraft.
I hope this love story has inspired you to take a second look at your own relationship. If it is falling apart because of games, then perhaps those games are too important to either one of you. It is about balance, and if there is truly love in your relationship, you will find that balance. Just as water seeks its own level, so those who are in love will find balance in their relationship.