I love my wife. She is amazing and without her I wouldn’t be able to achieve everything I have been working towards in the past couple of years. I want to start this article with that, a little because she is my editor and it will put her in a good mood, but mainly because she might get offended with some of the comments about her later, so better to score some brownie points now.
My wife has a love/hate relationship with my hobbies. She definitely loves that I am passionate about something, and that I have something that I genuinely enjoy. She knows that if I’m having a rough time, hanging out with a mate playing a game or two is a pretty good way to pump me up again. With that being said, my wife hates my hobbies. The amount of times she’s asked me what I was thinking, hoping to get something like “Just about how beautiful you are”, but instead gets “I think if I swap model X for model Y, I’ll be able to play into army Z”.
But, one of the awesome things about her is her acceptance of my hobbies. And when I say acceptance, I don’t mean she is okay with me going away for a weekend tournament. No, I mean she learns the rules, learns the models, gets involved in the community. She probably won’t be the top player, but she understands enough about the game to have a conversation, or to watch and follow along. She can commiserate a loss after the game, and can share in the wins. She has summed it up with the phrase “If it’s important to you, then it’s important to me”.
Now, this acceptance and understanding come at a cost. But this cost isn’t something that anyone in a relationship should be surprised by, reciprocity. In exchange for her learning the rules and knowing the model, I have a basic understanding of handbags and designers. I can identify the difference between Gucci and Dolce Gabbana, know what to look for to spot fake bags online, and when she buys a new one, know enough to be excited for her.
And this is a cost that we both gladly pay.
But, not every relationship is like this. Not every relationship needs to be like this. We have found what works for us. That doesn’t mean it will work for everyone, and it definitely doesn’t mean that our relationship is perfect. But, in my opinion, it is better than the alternative.
When it comes to sharing your hobby with your partner, there are a couple of different ways to go about it. Depending on what your partner is interested in, will depend on which one might be successful. But before you try any of them, the first thing you need to do is have a conversation.
The reason you need to have a conversation first, is to determine whether or not it will help your relationship. My wife and I can both be quite competitive, and this definitely shows when we compete against each other. Now, we aren’t fussed with the types of things where one of us has a distinct advantage, either due to experience or skill set, but something like tabletop wargaming is something we can both compete at relatively the same level.
In this conversation you can lay out the reason why you are sharing this hobby with your partner. Are you looking for someone to travel with, someone to spend time with painting, or even do you just want them to understand it better so that they can understand why you enjoy it so much. But the biggest reason to have this conversation first, is to get their perspective.
If you want to share your hobby with your partner, that is great. But if they aren’t interested, then it’s going to be rough. They might not want to be involved for a variety of reasons. The most important thing is that any of those reasons is valid. You might think they would really enjoy it, but if they aren’t interested then the more you pressure, the more they will resist, and overall, that will end in failure.
But if they are open to the idea, or even enthusiastic, then that’s great. Now you need to figure out the best way to get them into the hobby. Depending on their personality, you probably already have an idea about this, so run with it! I don’t know you, and I don’t know your partner, so if you have an idea, it’s going to be better than mine.
My advice is to start with something familiar. My wife is very creative, she is always doing something crafty, so I decided to try and scratch itch with painting. So I grabbed some random models that I had, and asked if she wanted to do some painting with me. We had already spent time together doing similar things, me painting and her knitting, so this wasn’t a huge leap for us. She said yes, painted two models and then didn’t really pick up the brush again, and went back to knitting whilst I painted.
So that was the first experiment, she painted a couple of models, was proud of the result and then stopped. Which was fine, I didn’t have the best random models for her to paint, and my colour palette was very different to what she was interested in, so I didn’t press it. But, by getting her to do that simple first step, I had unlocked the door.
About 3 months later, a new range of models were released for Warmachine and Hordes, the Grymkin. These nightmarish monsters were a very divisive range, as most people either loved them or hated them. Personally, I intensely disliked the models, they didn’t really fit the lore as I knew it, and the models just didn’t grab me. However, my wife loved them. She thought they were fantastic. So I bought her some. Not many, just a starter set, but the real trick came after. I also bought paints, not the usual paints I buy, but the ones I knew she would like.
I usually paint in a flat, crisp, clean manner. I like it, and I think I’m pretty good at it. When I’m painting an army, I’ll figure out how I’ll paint leather, then cloth, then metal, then flesh, etc etc. And that stays the same for the entire army. It gives a nice uniform appearance that I really like. My wife on the other hand loves everything to be different. No two things should be the same shade, let alone the same colour! So I leveraged this knowledge, I bought a couple of paints in every colour. Not a huge amount, as I already had a lot, but enough to just finish the colour wheel and let her go wild.
So now, she had models she liked, the colours she wanted, and there was no stopping her. We painted most nights for a good couple of weeks, and it was fantastic. But that time didn’t last and she painted most of her models in the initial burst. But now she had painted models, so stage two could begin.
Now, she had never been adverse to coming and watching me play games. She enjoyed the camaraderie that the community had, and she had gotten to know enough people from the local shop and local events that she knew a decent chunk of the community. Often she would sit nearby, half watch the game I was playing, and either knit or stitch, depending on what she was working on. The most annoying thing was she knew enough about the game to join in with my mates in heckling me when I made a mistake.
Then when one of our mutual friends became interested in learning the game, I asked if she would like to learn properly at the same time. And that is how she won her very first game of warmachine. She did enjoy the game, her Grymkin brutalising our friend’s Menoth force, but as she is a very competitive person, she knew if she was going to enjoy future games, then she would need to dedicate a lot of time and effort into learning all the different combos that other factions had. We both agreed that she didn’t really have the time or drive to do that, so we just left it there.
But her playing a proper game gave her a deeper understanding on how the game worked, and a new perspective on why I enjoyed it so much. And that additional perspective made it easier to get her interested when I switched the main game I was playing.
Through a massive variety of reasons, around the start of 2020, I switched from focusing my efforts from Warmachine to Age of Sigmar. The primary reason was the local community for it was much larger and I was getting a bit tired of having to drive almost 2 hours to find a game. But the additional benefit, one I didn’t foresee, was that this change was just what my wife needed.
Age of Sigmar doesn’t have as tight a ruleset as Warmachine, and as such has a much larger pool of players, with a significant amount of players not focusing on the top-tier competitive game. This means that the games are often more relaxed, which makes it a lot more accessible to new players. So I figured I would try to get my wife into the hobby again.
I started by getting her opinions on models, which ones she liked, what aspects of them she liked, and what models she thought she could paint well. Then, I bought her a starter kit. She was pretty pumped to get a present, and only a little disappointed it was models and not something else, but she recognised my enthusiasm and so she started painting an Anvilguard force.
Quite soon after the local shop had a painting contest, 2 months to paint a starter box. I entered as I enjoy stretching my skills, and picked up a box of Stormcast, and I was a little surprised when my wife decided to enter as well. After taking it easy for a month, we then had a frantic month of painting, culminating with us both getting the last models finished about 30 minutes before the deadline.
And suddenly, she had a whole host of models painted. So, as a treat for my birthday, she committed to playing a couple of games. She learnt the rules, keeping it fairly simple, only focusing on a few different units at a time, and she learnt how to play Age of Sigmar. She just focused on the basics, but she learnt enough to get that deeper understanding of the game.
Since then, she has played in a doubles tournament (with me), a local campaign, and a few random games against either myself or our friends. She doesn’t have the urge to go and play constantly, but she doesn’t mind playing a game here and there, or being a spare person if I host a games day. She hasn’t really done any other big painting push, but she has her own hobbies and goals, and I would be a fool if I got in the way of them.
Overall, I love my wife, and I love that she has taken more than a cursory interest in my hobbies. Having someone to share in my victories and commiserate with me in defeat is priceless. I cannot stress enough about how great it (and she is), but I think I should start wrapping this up now. (I could quite easily say another ten thousand words or so about how great she is).
Having a partner interested in the same hobby as you is awesome. It is another thing you can do together, and it sets you up to have a multitude of good times together. The most important thing about introducing them to your hobby is to be patient and don’t push. If you rush them, then you are setting yourself up for failure. You’ve been invested into this for a lot longer, so asking them to match you straight away is a recipe for disaster.
Give them time to learn to love it. Introduce the parts of the hobby that you think they will enjoy. If you pressure them, it won’t work. I’ve introduced my wife to the hobby over years; these things don’t happen overnight. And they might never get into it. But that is okay. Just because you have different interests doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed. In fact, some people prefer to have separate interests from their partner. And whilst that does have an effect on a relationship, it won’t make or break it.
The only thing that can make or break a relationship is the people in it. If you don’t put your partner first, then you’re in for a rough time. But I’m definitely not the person you should be taking advice from, I’ve only been married for 2 years now, so go find someone with more experience and ask them for advice. I’ll stick to giving my wargaming advice, because I’ve got more (a lot more) experience with that.
Until Next Time,