It is interesting what you learn about someone when you decide to marry after only dating for nine months. I’m surprised I don’t have whiplash from all of the times I’ve had to swiftly stomp on the brakes each time he would ‘reveal’ another side of himself. Honestly, I don’t believe I could have been paired with anyone more different (than me). We didn’t agree on any of the important things we were told are key to a successful marriage (religion, finance, family, politics). Our ‘love’ was about the only thing that held us together. Not only did we not agree on pretty significant life matters, we also had very different ideas on what constituted ‘time and/or money well spent’. First and foremost, my husband’s a ‘gamer’. It wasn’t even a term when we were first married but he had all the telltale signs. I remember going to bed and getting up at 2 am in order to pee and much of the time, when I’d glance over at his side of the bed, he wasn’t there. If he wasn’t in bed, I always knew where to find him.
The ‘glow’ emanating from the spare bedroom was a dead giveaway. Sure enough, when I’d go to check, he’d be sitting in a trancelike state, playing the latest ‘computer game’ on our Compaq Deskpro which was decked out with not one but two floppy disk drives. Geesh! Does anyone still remember floppy disks? Needless to say, his interest in gaming has never waned. For a time, he exclusively played computer games and then we purchased our first ‘Nintendo’ system. He eventually upgraded from Nintendo to PlayStation. Since then, he’s been a ‘PlayStation’ guy. For someone like me who is so careful about how I spend my money and what I spend it on (all things practical), it has been a real challenge to come to terms with how much money we’ve ‘invested’ in/on games and gaming systems. When I use the word ‘invested’, I am using it rather loosely (to be clear). They are worth about as much as a well-worn pair of shoes once my husband is finished with them, which isn’t much at all. Just like with most things, when the latest version of a game he loves comes out, he’s ‘got to have it now’.
The problem with that way of thinking, at least the part I have a problem with, is that we never get anything ‘on sale’. It will be ‘for sale’ but it will be priced at full retail value, a significant cost. Brand new gaming systems and games aren’t cheap and, the thing that really sticks in my craw, they lose value and become obsolete at a phenomenally rapid rate. We’ve had them all. And when I’ve taken the time to calculate how much we’ve ‘invested’ over the years, it really bums me out. The last time I counted, I believe we had right around 10 PS4 games and 40 PS3 games. We used to have about 40 PS2 games but we donated them right before we moved because I was unable to find a single person that was interested in anything that ‘old and outdated’. If you’re familiar with the cost of games when they hit the market, you’ll know that they are priced in the $50 – $60 range. When I add up 10 + 40 + 40 and multiply it by 50 or 60, do you want to know what happens? I feel sick to my stomach!
The irony is that that amount doesn’t include the gaming systems themselves, the controllers, the headsets, the specialized furniture, or any of the other ‘doo dads’ required to have the ‘full gaming experience’. Why am I going on at length about this particular topic, you ask? Sigh. Well, since you asked, I’ll tell you. Not long after my husband and I got married, I discovered another critical difference in how we each functioned, I was a ‘saver’ and he was a ‘spender’. And not only that, I learned that we had very different views on what constituted a ‘wise purchase’. I was raised with very few material things and am all about practicality. When I want something, I think long and hard about it before I reach for my credit card. My husband operates very differently. We’ve had a number of arguments over money throughout the years that I can best sum up this way, whenever I try to offer my opinion on why I am opposed to a purchase, my husband counters with, “I work hard for a living. If I want something and it makes me happy, I should be able to buy it.”
He has a point there, to be sure. He does work hard, harder than most. What riles me is how quickly he loses interest in things he ‘had to have’. Right after we got married, in addition to his interest in gaming, he also got involved in the ‘RC/Remote Control’ community. We were a single-income household (he was a ‘three striper’ in the military) with a baby on the way, and he didn’t have the slightest problem blowing $200 on a toy car (approximately 1/5 of what he earned each month). After that, he became interested in models. To alleviate any confusion, I am referring to model car kits (the kind you purchase at hobby stores that require assembly). Not long after, it was motorcycles (Suzuki, Honda, Harley). I grow weary when I think about all the various interests or hobbies he’s had throughout our marriage. For a brief moment in time, it was golf. There’s also been snowboarding, leather tooling, woodworking, and metal fabrication. There are far more but I think you get the picture.
No, you really have no idea! I feel compelled to elaborate. There’s been shooting (firearms), riding/racing (bicycles and motorcycles), running (half marathons), playing (guitars), and growing (hydroponics). Each is in a class by itself and each requires specialized equipment. I am reminded of them each time I open a closet, or enter our shed or garage, or gaze upon the shelves in our laundry room. I think about all the money and just shake my head. The bicycle my husband insisted on having, I think he’s only actually ‘taken it out for a spin’ about 10 times total. It was ‘state of the art’ when he bought it, built with a lightweight titanium frame and designed for people serious about competitive cycling. It’s presently hanging in the garage and covered in dust. At the moment, I’m feeling exceedingly disheartened because yesterday he bought his first kayak. I was against it because I’m all too familiar with his history of quickly losing interest in things but there was no talking him out of it.
If it’s anything like the pontoon boat, he’ll use it one time and then it’ll hang in the garage for two years before he decides to sell it at my urging. Or it’ll be like all of the other stuff, taking up space and collecting dust until we either move or die (whichever comes first). Sorry to seem so bleak, but I’m still trying to recover from the kayak. I feel like I get swept up in a tidal wave whenever my husband develops the urge for yet another ‘thing’. It’s never simple and it’s never cheap. Fly fishing started out with a fishing pole and then it was waders and a special hat and vest and all kinds of gear. He then determined he preferred tying his own flies in lieu of purchasing them ready-made, so we had to buy all of the accoutrements necessary to make that happen. In case you’re wondering, his little fly-tying ‘station’ is also out in the garage. It, along with the multi-tiered shelving unit (containing fur and feathers, spools of thread, hooks, beads, and all possible things necessary to replicate an insect from a specific region), is also covered in dust.
Help!! The ghosts of ‘hobbies past’ are haunting me and I don’t know what to do! Our house is filled with so much ‘stuff’ that I want to scream!! My friend ‘M’ said it’s a straight man thing, “Boys and their toys.” I don’t know, is it? To me, it seems like an attempt at filling a void that cannot be filled with material things. As much as I object to what I perceive as ‘frivolous expenditures’, I find it difficult to put my foot down. Whenever I ask for anything, my husband is always supportive and encouraging. In spite of his spending habits (and a rather long love affair with alcohol), I have no complaints. He has always provided for us and our children throughout our marriage and maybe we haven’t always had a lot of money to spare (there have been plenty of lean times), but he’s always made enough to cover our mortgage, food, utilities, and basic expenses. Maybe I need to lighten up? All things considered, I have it pretty good. I don’t know. I’m just feeling a bit frustrated at the moment but I know ‘this too shall pass’. Anyway, thanks for listening.
P.S. If you’re interested in a bunch of hydroponics equipment, let me know. I’d sure love to free up some space in the laundry room.