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

Yoreel wrote:

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.

I actually trained myself to be a morning person a few years before we got married, so I wake up at 5am and get an hour or two of gaming in before I start my morning routine.

wordsmythe wrote:
Yoreel wrote:

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.

I actually trained myself to be a morning person a few years before we got married, so I wake up at 5am and get an hour or two of gaming in before I start my morning routine.

That sounds pretty great. How did you accomplish that?

It's a balancing act, a give and a take. I had erroneously assumed that cohabitating for two years would have properly prepared me, but even though I personally viewed "marriage" as little more than a legal formality, everybody around me (my wife included) seemed to feel that it represented something quantitatively different. Such perceptions by necessity impinged upon my own version of reality, and, well... you learn to adapt.

The bottom line, for me, is that you can't expect to give up something you love, nor can you expect your partner to give up something she loves. You can change how you do things, you can change how much you do things, but if "something" - say, "gaming" - is core to your lifestyle before marriage, you have to find a way to preserve that.

gore wrote:

I had erroneously assumed that cohabitating for two years would have properly prepared me, but even though I personally viewed "marriage" as little more than a legal formality, everybody around me (my wife included) seemed to feel that it represented something quantitatively different. Such perceptions by necessity impinged upon my own version of reality, and, well... you learn to adapt.

That was me. We lived together for almost 2 years before getting married - and I was completely unprepared for the paradigm shift that marriage is. Living together, when you are not legally bound, is a completely different beast from marriage(in my experience, at least).

Threads like this make me really appreciate my wife. She accepts my rabid gaming wholeheartedly and without complaint. To be fair, I don't do it to the exclusion of spending time with her, and nor do I want to.

Mind you, it's not like it came as a surprise to her. 7 years ago, on the night we transitioned from dating to screwing, we found ourselves sitting on my couch, playing Sonic Adventure on the Gamecube when she propositioned me by saying "You wanna go f***, or shall we play some more Sonic?". I believe my answer was along the lines of "Both sound good - let's at least finish this level first."

Looking back on it, that was potentially the first moment I knew she was a keeper.

I know what I'm wearing to the next meet up.

SallyNasty wrote:
gore wrote:

I had erroneously assumed that cohabitating for two years would have properly prepared me, but even though I personally viewed "marriage" as little more than a legal formality, everybody around me (my wife included) seemed to feel that it represented something quantitatively different. Such perceptions by necessity impinged upon my own version of reality, and, well... you learn to adapt.

That was me. We lived together for almost 2 years before getting married - and I was completely unprepared for the paradigm shift that marriage is. Living together, when you are not legally bound, is a completely different beast from marriage(in my experience, at least).

I think it really depends on the nature of your relationship and what you both feel "marriage" means over and above exclusively dating or living together. My wife and I were together for almost four years before we married, three of those years we lived together. Absolutely NOTHING changed in terms of behavior or expectations after marriage beyond the understanding that this commitment was for life.

(PS. We've been married for 8 years now)

In my case, I lived with my ex-wife for about half a year prior to deciding we should take the next step. Sadly, she's the kind of person who thinks of marriage as something completely different than just cohabiting in a romantic relationship while sharing the responsibilities of parenthood et al. She also thought I basically had to quit all of the activities, none of which negative, which she thought were childish and/or didn't provide income, whether they cut into our time together or not (I had no rights to a man-cave! I needed me-time). Not to bore you guys with the dirt but let's just leave it at my ex being very hypocritical when it came down to what things were allowed and which were not, not following a logical rationale.

I think that I am partly to blame for not seeing such a development coming during the time we lived together prior to marriage. I guess I ignored the hints. However, I still think that moving-in together first is better that just going fully into it if moral/religious views allow.

It is most important to allow one's spouse their private time as well being encouraging when it comes to any plans they might have within reason. So long as people are tactfully honest and willing, things find a way of getting worked out. Or so I would like to believe.

Congrats to Wordsmythe and all other happily married goojers, btw!

HedgeWizard wrote:

I think it really depends on the nature of your relationship and what you both feel "marriage" means over and above exclusively dating or living together. My wife and I were together for almost four years before we married, three of those years we lived together. Absolutely NOTHING changed in terms of behavior or expectations after marriage

Yeah, me too. We live in a society where individuals have very different views on marriage, which I kind of like, but it does mean that you have to put more effort into making sure that you both understand the sort of contract you're making.

I really like (what I perceive to be) the underlying themes of the article: the compromises required in every relationship are easier if you spend some time thinking out what is easy to give up versus what is important; and the importance of flexibility over time.

wordsmythe wrote:

[i]I thought it was something about houses divided, and how slavery is bad new bears.

Not this article-- I think you mean Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter.

[i]I thought it was something about houses divided, and how slavery is bad news bears.

I have a most amazing wife: I'm a musician, a career she supports, even with my crazy hours. But it also means that I'm sort of a night owl, staying up 'til 3 am, even when I'm not working. So the midnight-3am slot ends up being my gaming time, and my amazing wife gets up with our kids, letting me sleep in 'til 9 or 9:30. I've got a keeper.

And the Descendents? I have one thing to say to that:

"All?"

"NO, ALL!"

< /punkshout>

Yeah-- giving up a Descendents T... tsk tsk. Luckily my wife hasn't made me give up any of my band shirts. I've given some of them up of my own accord. Unless she's using reverse psychology on me. Probably...

Wembley wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:

I actually trained myself to be a morning person a few years before we got married, so I wake up at 5am and get an hour or two of gaming in before I start my morning routine.

That sounds pretty great. How did you accomplish that?

Mostly it was a combination of drinking water before going to sleep (and ancient trick) and figuring out how long my REM cycles take, so that I could set my alarm to wake me up between dreams, rather than mid-cycle.

And my coffee mug. I don't need to booze or drugs, I just chug-a-lug of my coffee mug!

wordsmythe wrote:

and figuring out how long my REM cycles take, so that I could set my alarm to wake me up between dreams, rather than mid-cycle.

Okay, how do you do that?

wordsmythe wrote:

Mostly it was a combination of drinking water before going to sleep (and ancient trick) and figuring out how long my REM cycles take, so that I could set my alarm to wake me up between dreams, rather than mid-cycle.

My old shift at work was perfect for this. I used to get up at 3:30 to be at work at 4:15. It was awesome. I woke up with energy. Felt rested.

Now I get up at 5:15 to be at work at 6 and I feel terrible for the first hour or two of the morning. Doesn't matter what time I go to bed. Hate it.

Or, you can train yourself by hiring a dominatrix to flog you for ten minutes every time you don't wake to an alarm.

Kidding.

But it's not a joke that you sleep lighter and wake faster if you constantly think that your life is in danger if you fail to wake to specific environmental signals. Very stressful, but as long as you get enough sleep, you won't fail to wake up.

My boyfriend is against the living together thing at the moment. He was really screwed over by his ex when they lived together. He had to give up gaming and other things he loved to do. I completely respect his decision and am willing to live by myself til I finish school. Also somewhere random on the interwebs I once read some new marital stats (do not remember the source) and one of them said that couples who did not live together before marriage had a 44% better chance at having their marriage last. I do not know how reliable it is but it's a nice thought when I sometimes wish we lived together.

EdemaKNN wrote:

My boyfriend is against the living together thing at the moment. He was really screwed over by his ex when they lived together. He had to give up gaming and other things he loved to do. I completely respect his decision and am willing to live by myself til I finish school. Also somewhere random on the interwebs I once read some new marital stats (do not remember the source) and one of them said that couples who did not live together before marriage had a 44% better chance at having their marriage last. I do not know how reliable it is but it's a nice thought when I sometimes wish we lived together.

That has a lot to do with the kind of people who refuse to live together before marriage; that's going to trend towards more conservatively religious folks who will be less likely to get a divorce. it's not that living together makes you more likely to divorce, it's that refusing to live together is, in all likelihood, a sign that you're the kind of person for whom a divorce is an option.

And your boyfriend could apparently use a bit of therapy . . .

EdemaKNN wrote:

My boyfriend is against the living together thing at the moment. He was really screwed over by his ex when they lived together. He had to give up gaming and other things he loved to do. I completely respect his decision and am willing to live by myself til I finish school. Also somewhere random on the interwebs I once read some new marital stats (do not remember the source) and one of them said that couples who did not live together before marriage had a 44% better chance at having their marriage last. I do not know how reliable it is but it's a nice thought when I sometimes wish we lived together.

Been there, done that... like in the post before mine, the man might need some therapy... or just let him exorcise his demons. I can tell you that one becomes overtly cynical for a good while after having one's soul hijacked by a significant other. Some of us do better over time but it's all relative to the person in question.

Good luck, though!

Here's a special praise for using kipple in the article.

Gravey wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:

and figuring out how long my REM cycles take, so that I could set my alarm to wake me up between dreams, rather than mid-cycle.

Okay, how do you do that?

Start keeping track of how long you sleep each night and how easily you wake up in the morning. There are also iPhone apps that attempt to figure this out by monitoring sound and bed vibrations while you sleep. I've heard about people using a series of quieter alarms set every few minutes before when they'd normally wake up, to see if there's a "soft spot" where you're more naturally ready to wake up. Generally, you'll be looking for 80-120 minutes per cycle.

And, perhaps most importantly: Don't deviate your wake-up time. Even on weekends. Always get up and try to get active. You can take a nap after you've been up for a while, if you need to.

wanderingtaoist wrote:

Here's a special praise for using kipple in the article.

As you know, kipple drives out non-kipple.

When I was living with my ex I tried to keep gaming time for after she went to bed and before she woke up on weekends. I'm not much of a sleeper.

She complained that she never went to sleep or woke up next to me.

Yes, I'm bitter.

Alternatively, just have a couple of kids relatively close together (ours 17 months). I haven't had more than 6 hours sleep a night for the last 2 years. I stay up gaming until midnight, feed our 9 month old, then sleep until 6, when I need to get ready for work.

Works a charm, the wifey gets a repreive from all the feeding, and I get some quality gaming in too.

Ugh, you lucky six-hours-a-night sleepers. I can't imagine the way my quality of life would improve if that's all I needed.

beeporama wrote:

Ugh, you lucky six-hours-a-night sleepers. I can't imagine the way my quality of life would improve if that's all I needed.

Trust me, with two under two, and a full time job that demands at least 45 hours a week, 6 hours is barely enough. I 'could' sleep a few hours before the midnight feed, but then I'd never get to play anything.

Occassionally I'll be that tired I'll actually fall asleep with the controller in my hand, and it's the 'thud' as it hits the floor that eventually snaps me back awake. That's when I know I'm really tired.

wordsmythe wrote:
Gravey wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:

and figuring out how long my REM cycles take, so that I could set my alarm to wake me up between dreams, rather than mid-cycle.

Okay, how do you do that?

Start keeping track of how long you sleep each night and how easily you wake up in the morning. There are also iPhone apps that attempt to figure this out by monitoring sound and bed vibrations while you sleep. I've heard about people using a series of quieter alarms set every few minutes before when they'd normally wake up, to see if there's a "soft spot" where you're more naturally ready to wake up. Generally, you'll be looking for 80-120 minutes per cycle.

And, perhaps most importantly: Don't deviate your wake-up time. Even on weekends. Always get up and try to get active. You can take a nap after you've been up for a while, if you need to.

Yes, I've done the always-get-up-at-the-same-time thing one summer, and it was glorious. After only a couple weeks I was awake and ready to go at that time. But even though I know it works, I haven't gone back to it. My night owlishness always gets the better of me.

Thanks for the tips on the REM cycle though, I should explore that. I do remember from university, when my sleep was most out of whack, that I'd be okay if I got 6+ hours of sleep (idealyl 9-11 hours )—but if I could only get five, I would be better off staying up to sleep only four hours, as I'd feel better waking up after four than five. Funny that.

Good article wordy. She's worth the trouble, that I'm sure of.

Gravey wrote:

Thanks for the tips on the REM cycle though, I should explore that. I do remember from university, when my sleep was most out of whack, that I'd be okay if I got 6+ hours of sleep (idealyl 9-11 hours )—but if I could only get five, I would be better off staying up to sleep only four hours, as I'd feel better waking up after four than five. Funny that.

There exist gizmos that are designed to track your sleep patterns, and wake you up at the optimal time. I'm intrigued by these things, but reviews are mixed, and they are decidedly not cheap.

gore wrote:
Gravey wrote:

Thanks for the tips on the REM cycle though, I should explore that. I do remember from university, when my sleep was most out of whack, that I'd be okay if I got 6+ hours of sleep (idealyl 9-11 hours )—but if I could only get five, I would be better off staying up to sleep only four hours, as I'd feel better waking up after four than five. Funny that.

There exist gizmos that are designed to track your sleep patterns, and wake you up at the optimal time. I'm intrigued by these things, but reviews are mixed, and they are decidedly not cheap.

If you have an iPhone/Touch, there are apps that at least try to do this for a lot cheaper.