The way that people treated me changed when I became a gamer wife. And so did the expectations they had for me.
Subtle things happened at first. Remember, it was expected that my relationship wouldn’t last for long. No one pushed me to be the good wife until they were certain that this wasn’t just some summer fling. Time passed and slowly more things were expected from me because it was my job. No one ever, quite, insulted me for not doing these things but there were definite suggestions of superiority or proper behaviour. Other gamer wives would look down their nose when I didn’t perform to spec. They were clearly the better wives. Men would be surprised when they found out that I didn’t do these things happily.
Many of these things are not restricted to gamer wives but are wifely things. Some of these things were expected by my spouse, some were not. Some were causes of rather angry arguments.
I was expected to be tolerant to my spouse being out late at night gaming. I was expected to attend certain gaming related things without complaint. If I called to remind my spouse that I wanted him home, I was being unreasonable when it was gaming related. I was a gamer myself, didn’t I understand? I had to fill both the role of permissive lover who never imposes as well as be the mother figure that manages and takes care of her husband.
If my spouse had to manage supplies and phone calls before game, it was perfectly acceptable for me to do those things instead. I had to be an organizer even if I wasn’t an organizer. All of the responsibilities of running a larp were suddenly on my shoulders merely because I was attached to this man. And don’t get me wrong, I was happy to help out when it came to gathering up supplies and carrying things and setting up site. I hated calling people. I refused to keep track of the character sheets. I would pay for site because it was all the same money, right? Sometimes complaints of these things would get me sympathetic nods, but mostly I was expected to understand the inner workings of the larp that I wasn’t running. To this day, I actively refuse to help “run” larps because of all the unwanted and unasked for responsibilities that had been heaped on me back in those days.
But that isn’t where the gamer wife problem got bad.
I was expected to organize him. People used to call me specifically to talk to him. And I don’t mean call our home. I mean call my personal cell phone then ask for him. It’s my cell. It’s with me. You could have called the home phone and gotten him. But no, you instead called me with the full expectation that I was wholly responsible for him and keep constant tabs on his location. Then you get annoyed when I tell you call the number where you could expect him to actually answer.
This became a serious problem. I ended up telling off a number of friends who would do this constantly and, as the inevitable result, they no longer like me very much. I was being a bitch instead of dutifully and patiently explaining every single time.
This kind of behaviour was replicated in other places too. If I was anywhere, they’d ask after him. Ask after the games he was running or if he’d gotten around to writing up downtime yet. I’d get invited to events specifically so that I’d bring him along with me. My spouse wouldn’t always remember commitments and events and it was, apparently, my job to keep track of all of that. This got to the point where others used me as his personal assistant to manage his calendar. Several friends learned that if they wanted him to attend anything, the safest bet was to get me interested because he’d often follow along. Of course, arriving at something you thought you were wanted at only to be ignored in favor of your spouse hurts.
So not only did I have to balance my spouse’s schedule, his commitments and his free time but I also had to be permissive to flights of fancy that various friends desired from him. Now, the reverse was also true. If he’s invited, I was expected to show up. Because the community is tight knit, if I don’t show up, it means that I don’t approve of him going out. And that’s bad, right?1 Eventually I stopped showing up to things I wasn’t invited to and my spouse would inform the hosts of this. Confusion at my behaviour abounded.
Unless, you know, it’s a guy thing. Then I was supposed to be oblivious and uninterested if I dared show up in the first place. I could come along, but I shouldn’t bother him or the other men while they’re talking. And I should expect weird looks. There were invisible guy spaces that I was supposed to respect and implicitly recognize. Crossing over into them meant having to take on the meek girl stereotype or risk being frozen out completely. Risk being mocked and derided until I was chased from the space.
Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t always so black and white. There were plenty of spaces and groups and people who treated me independently of him. This only makes those people who treated me as the gamer wife so much more painful. The other little, niggling detail is that often someone who did one of these things wouldn’t be doing the others. The people who invited me specifically to have my spouse attend weren’t the same people who called my cell. Everyone would ask after details for his games despite me not being an organizer.
But the biggest thing I was expected to deal with is the topic of the next part. How the gamer wife was supposed to behave around the gaming table proper.
- Actually that last one is a weird point. My spouse and I hashed out an agreement that basically go as follows. If one of us wants to go somewhere or do something the other isn’t interested in, that’s fine. Just make sure that the other is okay with them not being around. Sometimes it’s a problem, sometimes it’s not so much. But it’s our problem. Our decision. ↩