Marriage Negotiations

Fighting for closet space

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.

Comments

Mind you, we've only been married 10 months.

(I choose here not to break down the strengths and weaknesses of individual units.)

Tee hee hee!

I'm not sure if I could marry someone without living with them first. Cohabitation certainly seems to be the biggest hurdle. You can talk about it beforehand all you want, but it's the day-to-day that seems to have the biggest impact on the relationship -- little stuff like who uses the TV when, differing opinions about how acceptable it is to play MadWorld while her friends are sitting right there, why eating vegetarian once in a while won't kill me (curse you Meatless Mondays!), etc.

But it sounds like you've got stuff pretty much figured out, the unknown status of individual units notwithstanding.

You were giving me grief for living in a row house when you are SHARING a one bedroom apartment? AND you are still together?

My wife would be locked in the closet after just 2 or 3 months in a similar scenario. Good on ya!

...

Just kidding honey!

[size=5]Not really kidding, I'd have a decent strong padlock picked out and everything.[/size]

Clemenstation wrote:

I'm not sure if I could marry someone without living with them first.

That's how I felt (and still feel) about it, but I think that if you're opposed to premarital cohabitation on moral or moral grounds (as I think wordsmythe is), I think they made the right choice here: talk, read, and prepare as best you can.

ClockworkHouse wrote:
Clemenstation wrote:

I'm not sure if I could marry someone without living with them first.

That's how I felt (and still feel) about it, but I think that if you're opposed to premarital cohabitation on moral or moral grounds (as I think wordsmythe is), I think they made the right choice here: talk, read, and prepare as best you can.

Mrs. Gravey and I lived together for two years before we got married, which was definitely plenty of time to find all these things out about each other that Clem mentions. However, this wasn't the type of cohabitation that is like the demo version of marriage, where if it (the cohabitation, or the relationship) doesn't work out we can get out, no harm done. We had already been together for about four years before that, and marriage was going to happen sooner or later. Moving in together made sense at the time for other reasons as well (proximity to work, etc). (Edit: Yup, just like WipEout said.)

Now we're married and it's really business as usual. Not much difference from common-law, except we'll have to file our taxes together next year (bye-bye GST rebate ). As to the article itself, I don't have much to report about our initial negotiations. My lovely wife is very tolerant of my gaming, and I'm a big pushover, so it's been pretty win-win!

I can understand conceding on some points made (and have done so myself in my marriage), but factory foods? Never give up real food if you don't have to. If its affordable, for us at least, we opt for the natural stuff (not necessarily organic, but that reasoning is a whole different conversation... or not). It's just better for you, and tastes so much better. Like heirloom tomatoes vs. Safeway (Dominick's out here-- I need to get used to that) brand-- after eating a real heirloom tomato, eating regular mass-produced tomatoes is like eating a water balloon: a bunch of water inside a tough, funny-tasting skin.

Anyway, I've definitely given up some of my gaming time and habits, but I think that's also because of who I've grown to be, regardless of my wife's involvement. I've found that I can hardly play a game for more than a couple hours anymore before my eyes begin to burn and I become antsy. I start thinking about the movies I'd rather watch, the ride I'd rather be taking, or the book I still haven't finished. And while I'll never be able to get her to play a game herself for reasons she still won't explain to me after 7 years, she does like to sit with me while I play a console game (especially one with an engaging story), so there's definitely compromise made on both sides.

And luckily, we lived together for a couple years before we married, partly out of love for one another, partly out of convenience. We'd be two completely different people from who we are today had we waited to live together after we married...

(As an aside, I loved Ancient art of War.)

wordsmythe wrote:

Mind you, we've only been married 10 months. ;)

It's all uphill from there, trust me. [size=1]That doesn't mean it's a smooth road[/size]

Wordy wrote:

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 forever living with the person I love.

FTFY

Haha, 10 months and he thinks he knows things.

Yeah +1 for the Ancient Art of War shot :). And yeah, wait until you hit the 3 year mark. Maybe you'll make another article then

Today is my anniversary (as well as my fiancee's birthday - I was her best present ever ;))

We've been living together for 4 years and were supposed to be getting married today, which has unfortunately been delayed a year due to monetary concerns.

I must say though compromise is fun. I've managed it fairly successfully. I play a lot of games without the sound turned on, while I sit next to her watching whatever procedural cop show she loves that I have a barely passing interest in. I can pretty much play as many games as I want as long as I always remember she comes first and that I can pause a game. If it's a game I can't pause I tend not to play it with her around.

I've also started to drag her into gaming. Her birthday/anniversary present was a Wii (that she has been dying to get for about 18 months) and we spent an hour playing New super Mario Brothers (Yes she complained when I jumped on her head :D)

But in any long term relationship it's about give and take and respecting each other. I hope everyone is lucky enough to find that.

Quintin_Stone wrote:

Haha, 10 months and he thinks he knows things. :lol:

He's so cute that way. Or at least he was, until he revealed he has a preference for donning jean shorts.

Okay, maybe we all tried jean shorts back in the 80's, but that's where they stayed. In the 80s.

This is timely, given some of the recent discussion in the forums. Nicely written.

HedgeWizard wrote:
Quintin_Stone wrote:

Haha, 10 months and he thinks he knows things. :lol:

He's so cute that way. Or at least he was, until he revealed he has a preference for donning jean shorts.

Okay, maybe we all tried jean shorts back in the 80's, but that's where they stayed. In the 80s.

Maybe wordsmythe is a never-nude!

Pawz wrote:

Yeah +1 for the Ancient Art of War shot :). And yeah, wait until you hit the 3 year mark. Maybe you'll make another article then ;)

PEOPLE LIVE THAT LONG?

To be fair, although I did have my own residence, we got a pretty good taste of what it might be like for me to live here long before I actually moved all of my stuff in. My TV hoarding, his propensity for attaching to wardrobe pieces that I know we all realize should never leave the house... None of this was a shock when I finally did move in. It just feels different when you know it is for good, I think.

HedgeWizard wrote:
Quintin_Stone wrote:

Haha, 10 months and he thinks he knows things. :lol:

He's so cute that way. Or at least he was, until he revealed he has a preference for donning jean shorts.

Okay, maybe we all tried jean shorts back in the 80's, but that's where they stayed. In the 80s.

C'Mon, dude-- you're in San Francisco! Go to the Mission on any given day and you'll find at least 3 hipster DBs wearing jeans cut off above the knee. And More than likely only 1 out of those 3 will actually be on a fixed gear bike. Don't question it, I used to live there (and am having a hard time getting my denim drainpipes off-- actually taking a break to type this).

E Hunnie wrote:

...his propensity for attaching to wardrobe pieces that I know we all realize should never leave the house...

Does this mean you're going to make fun of me if I'm in jeans and visiting? Because I honestly don't think I have non-denim pants in my closet, aside from my wedding suit.

You guys managed to fit everything in ONE BEDROOM? We have a 3 bedroom and one of the rooms is basically still full of leftover supplies from our DIY wedding and unopened wedding gifts. E Hunnie must have been a serious pauper before moving in

Anyway, this article is timely and awesome. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

WipEout wrote:

Does this mean you're going to make fun of me if I'm in jeans and visiting? Because I honestly don't think I have non-denim pants in my closet, aside from my wedding suit.

So long as they're full length, there's no problem.

I should admit that those shorts were remnants of the days when it was cool to wear them below the knee. Radical.

Your marriage seems so much happier than the 3 I have been involved with. My divorced parents, and then their own consecutive marriages.

wordsmythe wrote:
WipEout wrote:

Does this mean you're going to make fun of me if I'm in jeans and visiting? Because I honestly don't think I have non-denim pants in my closet, aside from my wedding suit.

So long as they're full length, there's no problem.

I should admit that those shorts were remnants of the days when it was cool to wear them below the knee. Radical.

Well. I suppose better this than the god forsaken ones that end somewhere in the upper thigh. *Shudders*

Gravey wrote:

Maybe wordsmythe is a never-nude!

So appropriate since I finally started watching this when it came to netflix instant viewing.

What the! Ancient Art of War... WOW..

This means I'm old if I spotted that in milliseconds right? sigh.....

Man I loved that game..

Sarcophagus wrote:

You guys managed to fit everything in ONE BEDROOM? We have a 3 bedroom and one of the rooms is basically still full of leftover supplies from our DIY wedding and unopened wedding gifts. E Hunnie must have been a serious pauper before moving in

Anyway, this article is timely and awesome. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

My fiancee and I did this for the first year we lived together. The flat was bedroom, living room, kitchen, bathroom. The first two rooms just had stuff stacked almost to the ceiling, around all four walls. We have a slightly bigger place now, with proper storage and an extra room, but there is still entirely too much clutter. We'll be moving soon and I'm hoping to use it as an opportunity to overcome some of my natural pack-rat instincts and economise on space a bit more. It's funny how the gamer mindset often comes with hording tendencies isn't it?

pignoli wrote:

My fiancee and I did this for the first year we lived together. The flat was bedroom, living room, kitchen, bathroom. The first two rooms just had stuff stacked almost to the ceiling, around all four walls. We have a slightly bigger place now, with proper storage and an extra room, but there is still entirely too much clutter. We'll be moving soon and I'm hoping to use it as an opportunity to overcome some of my natural pack-rat instincts and economise on space a bit more. It's funny how the gamer mindset often comes with hording tendencies isn't it?

Yeah, sometimes I feel like this guy.

When I moved out of home, my significant other told me I needed to live 12 months by myself first. She'd been in an apartment for 6 moths prior to that, and I thought, hey, I'll just move in.

She was smart. I had a lot of unlearning to do. Clothes don't find their own way to the laundry being the first of many revelations.

LOOOONG story short.

12 months by myself, 6 years living together, celebrated our 'tenth' anniversary together with a surprise wedding and we're passing the 20 year mark together this November with a 2 year old and 9 month old in tow. For those doing the maths, we 'hooked up' in high school (me 17, she 16). Went to Art college together (she fine art, me graphic design). She lost interest in gaming when there was more than two buttons and a cross pad on the controller, I've been avid since the age of 5.

The key is communication, and a good deal of empathy.

Spoiler:

That, and a man cave with a 50" plasma!

I'll usually game once the whole house has gone to sleep... It limits me to 2-3 hour sessions, but it's something you learn to work around.

Dude Jean Shorts!

At least your wife plays games. My lovely bride of 14 years is not a gamer at all, she barely shows an interest in casual games, the one exception is she will sign when we play family Rock Band.

However I have co-opted the kids who are becoming die hard gamers. So a good portion of "family time" can be spent gaming and my gaming needs are satisfied.

MyNameIsHunter wrote:

Your marriage seems so much happier than the 3 I have been involved with. My divorced parents, and then their own consecutive marriages.

We had a fair amount of experience in this department as well, which probably went a long way to making us extra careful going in.

pignoli wrote:

My fiancee and I did this for the first year we lived together. The flat was bedroom, living room, kitchen, bathroom. The first two rooms just had stuff stacked almost to the ceiling, around all four walls. We have a slightly bigger place now, with proper storage and an extra room, but there is still entirely too much clutter. We'll be moving soon and I'm hoping to use it as an opportunity to overcome some of my natural pack-rat instincts and economise on space a bit more. It's funny how the gamer mindset often comes with hording tendencies isn't it?

I also got lucky in that my shelves and shelves of books were a big factor in convincing her that I was grown-up enough to risk dating. So they got to stay. Imagine all those stat bonuses!

By which I mean to say that we, as gamers, have been trained from a young age to collect and save everything we possibly can. And then to try and combine them all.

cmitts wrote:

At least your wife plays games. My lovely bride of 14 years is not a gamer at all, she barely shows an interest in casual games, the one exception is she will sign when we play family Rock Band.

E Hunnie's not so different, really. She's willing to play board games or a couple party-game VGs in a social setting, but that's mostly as far as she'll go. It even turned out that her stories of watching her friends play games included a second TV with a movie on it.

Luckily, she bought me a gaming PC as a birthday present when we'd only been dating for about 15 months. (She's pretty great sometimes.)

You think a wife cuts into your gaming time - wait till a baby comes along:)

Spoiler:

But it is totally worth it.

I had long said that I would never marry anybody without living with them first. So we moved in together, and I asked her to marry me exactly one week later. It was spur of the moment. We were lounging around, drinking wine in bed after a tiring day at an outdoor wine festival, discussing moving somewhere other than D.C. (which we both hated), and the idea of buying a place together at some point popped up, at which point the whole "we should probably discuss a more permanent commitment" thing came up. I sat there, heart pounding for a minute or two, and it then went like this:

"Aw, f*ck it, will you marry me?"

"Okay. Uh, I mean 'yes'!"

Hit ten years married last fall. As for stuff, don't worry, no matter how big your place is, you'll fill it with crap. We had a sparsely-decorated two-bedrooom crappy pre-fab rental house when we started out. Now, our sprawling 4000+ square foot suburban house is packed with all sorts of junk.

I think you have about 1 month of marriage time than my wife and me. I feel like we have gone through a very similar setup with us living together in a small apartment right away when we were married. I too have had to move my gaming and certain movie time to after my lovely bride has gone to bed. It is actually a compromise I think many a gamer makes. Lucky for us gentlemen gamers, our wives need that extra few hours of sleep than we do. You are correct in stating that giving up those small things you used to hold dear is completely worth it to spend your life with someone who loves you unconditionally.