In previous eras, negotiations surrounding two amorous youngsters moving in together centered around things like the market price of goats and how sure a father was of his daughter's virginity. Luckily, we've gotten past that a bit. And while prenuptial agreements are certainly common enough in modern times, they very rarely cover the sort of things that one might find in a Katubah or alluded to in other ceremonial vows--and even those can be seriously clouded by visions of romance and relief that all the planning is finally over.
But promising to love your significant other is easy to do when everything's flowers and smiles and fancy clothes. It's a bit harder when you're both wearing sweatpants and starting to wonder if you love closet space or the flannels hanging there more than you love each other. And any gamer committing to life with someone else is going to have to face similar questions about not only where to hide their platforms, but when gaming fits in the new couple's schedule.
We were no different, really. Like in any asymmetric strategy game, we had an easy time with some things but struggled with others. (I choose here not to break down the strengths and weaknesses of individual units.) But also like good strategy gamers, we both looked ahead to try and anticipate problems.
So we took the classes on common problems and issues in marriages. We read books calling out some of our more foolish expectations for what happens when a couple goes from dating to cohabitation. We took all sorts of tests about our personalities. And we discussed all of it with each other and with close friends.
After Raina and I were married, she officially moved in to my one-bedroom place downtown. She'd already had some stuff stashed away at my place, and part of me thought that she'd only have a couple boxes of clothes to bring. But that was a very silly thought, made all the sillier when I noticed that the entire front room was filled with wedding gifts. We didn't have the advantage of moving all of our stuff into a new, empty home, nor did we enjoy the sprawling (by comparison) floor plans of suburban tract housing.
I'd been spending the past four years slowly acquiring enough stuff, books and assorted kipple to fill out every corner and shelf of my 670-square foot bachelor pad. But Raina had been splitting rent at various places since she moved out of her mom's, and had never lived in any place large enough for long enough to amass the usual quantity of consumerist detritus. She was an avid donor of old clothes to Goodwill. And we got a bit proactive; we found ways to fit more dressers and drawers into the bedroom.
So I only had to get rid of half of my clothes—mostly the clothes that I wasn't forced to wear for work. You know: the terrible band shirts, flannels and ratty jeans that I actually enjoyed and preferred to wear. I'd long since understood that I wore khakis and permanent press more than t-shirts and jeans, and I knew that I'd have to make some room for the new wife. But that didn't mean I'd ever accepted it, or that it didn't hurt to give up that old Descendents tour shirt, knowing that nobody at Goodwill would ever appreciate like I did. But as much of a pack-rat as I am, I found that I didn't really miss the jean shorts.
But that was comparatively easy. Raina also felt entitled to spending time with me, and watching shows on the only TV we could fit in the place. And even sleeping before 3am on the night after I got a new game. And here I'd thought that I'd vetted her. I'd brought her to PAX and GenCon. I'd met her old friends and roommates who used to play games while she would watch and talk to them. I'd enjoyed her snuggling on my shoulder while I played XBLA titles. Part of me wondered how she'd slipped through the screening process. Another part of me wanted to sigh and give up on ever having fun again.
But papa raised me to be a strategy gamer. I knew that campaign plans are built on presumptions and expectations, and that no campaign plan ever fully survives first contact, but must be adapted to match the reality of the situation as it unfolds. This wasn't an intractable situation. There were metaphorical "jean shorts" here.
For example, I sleep about six hours per night, but Raina needs around nine hours. While my newlywed mind was upset about spending an extra fifth of our non-work time apart, it also meant three extra hours for Mass Effect, Dragon Age, my massive Google Reader backlog, and drilling through all those titles on my movie queue that'd just freak her out anyway. And I can bite my tongue when the playoff game is starting and she's finishing up watching some show about examining the face of the ghost of Dr. Phil to see if he's lying—or something.
Sure, I still have to compromise a little by spending less time with console games and eating more "normal" factory-food instead of the surprisingly edible healthy stuff I was used to, that's an acceptable price to pay in order to spend a lifetime living with the person I love.
And I know I can make that sacrifice because I learned more from games than to have strong, flexible plans and good intelligence. In many games, a grunt is a grunt is a grunt, but in the hex-based world I knew as a child, there was more. I'd been through enough Gettysburg simulations to know the Union's Iron Brigade from the XI Corps. And sure, we could argue about whether the XI wilted because of bad leadership, bad communication or bad morale. But that argument would just prove that if you want to protect your flank, you want the trifecta of careful leadership, good communication, and hearts stubbornly set on sacrificing themselves and their shirts for the good of the Union.