Approximately 11 years ago I was on summer vacation in high school when a friend introduced me to a shy nerdy guy she knew from work. It was not love at first sight, more like awkward disinterest at first sight. Over the rest of the summer he persisted in hanging out with my group of friends or visiting the fast food place where I worked. I learned we had a common interest in roleplaying, he showed me the 3rd Edition Monster Manual that first intrigued me about the game. Eventually, he worked up the nerve to ask me out. He took me to my first D&D game. A couple of years later he asked me to marry him and another year later we got married.
I love the fact that I’m married to the guy that introduced me to my favorite hobby. I love that we get to game together. As a married couple, we have long since learned it’s impossible to keep each other out of our game plannings. We are both DMs, so we understand the craft, but we each approach it differently. We used to try to keep our plans secret from each other, so that the other person could enjoy the surprises like any other player and sometimes that works, but often we can’t resist telling each other our plans. We enjoy brainstorming with each other. We get feedback, test out ideas, and discuss players’ reactions. I’d like to think that combining our efforts has lead to having better dynamics and more well-rounded games.
My husband is the one player I can count on to react reliably. I know him, I know his moods, his humor, and his style of roleplaying. I can rely on him to help me at the table. If I worry that my players won’t pick up a mystery clue, or might ignore an important NPC, I can usually count on him to nudge the players in the right direction without a word or hint from me. I know he will never hog the spotlight, he won’t be upset if I don’t focus on his character as much as the others, and he won’t be mad if I do horrible things to his character. I’ll gladly suffer the same for any of his games.
Is it all peaches? No, not always. Sometimes we disagree on things, at the table this more awkward than a typical disagreement between a DM and a player. Any dispute is more personal between us, making the atmosphere at the table intensely more uncomfortable for the other players. As a DM, it’s hard to ignore that feeling of “How could he do that? He knows how hard I worked on this!” and vice-versa. As a player, it’s hard to live up to the expectations DM Spouse has for one’s actions in the game. On top of that, we have to resist the urges to correct or say anything that would undermine the other while they’re sitting in the DM’s seat. “I though she was going to do it differently, why did she change that?” is one of those common feelings we both have to bite down on. Sometimes we toe the line between acting together and bossing each other. We have to avoid ganging up on a another player or on the DM if we both disagree with the person.
On the rare occasion we get to sit side-by-side as players, we usually play characters that are vast opposites of each other. We’re still DMs at heart though, and it’s not unusual for us to remind other players to stay focused, or remind them to ask the DM those key questions that usually reveal significant plot information. We fight tactically, making the best of each others strength. We try to roleplay our character’s personalities in ways to encourage other players to roleplay without overshadowing them or the DM. Most of all, we try to have fun.
I’d say our ups definitely outweigh our downs. Some of my best games could only have happened with Jared’s help. He’s been my first and best supporter in everything I’ve tried to do and after 9 years of marriage I’m still happy to come home to my husband and settle down in the living room to roll some dice.
I love you, Jared!