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What to do When your Spouse Hates the Games You Want to Play

It's really easy to set up an adventure in the Tomb of Annihilation board game.

Just like you, I’m a sucker for marketing. Marketers suck this sucker into buying new board games all the time, with their promises that the latest board games not only won’t suck, but will instead be the perfect one for me.

To pull off this trick, the marketers know me well, I’m sure having siphoned my data from Facebook or Google. All they have to do is highlight that the board game features Star Wars, or zombies, or D&D, or Marvel, or some other rad genre. And I almost always love the game, even at opening the box and examining the components, because it has, you know, Stormtroopers or something in the box.

But plot twist, my wife typically hates those kind of games! And being that she’s my primary gaming partner, it makes it difficult to get those games to the table. So what do we do when we bring home a game that we love, but our partner doesn’t?

First, learn to be pragmatic with your gaming. Rather than push and pout to get your #1 favorite game to the table, consider having 4 or 5 “good enough” games that might work. Limiting the game you’re willing to play to one is, well, limiting.

To be clear, although it might not be your first choice, these few games are good choices and offer some flexibility in styles and themes that will help you and your partner find a compromise.

In short, it’s better to play something than to play nothing. So be willing to give a little in your preferences. Really, this is just called compromising and it’s something grownups should be able to do anyway.

Second, be willing to drop a game into your rotation that you enjoy, yet might bug you a bit. Sagrada is that game for us, and it’s a great game. If you aren’t familiar, Sagrada is a wonderful game that utilizes a colored dice pool to fill in a little board as if you are creating a stained glass window.

Players pull the dice out of the bag blindly, then take turns drafting them in order to place them in a particular pattern. Sagrada has simple mechanics that are wonderfully pieced together to make for some sharp gameplay. On top of that, it’s a beautiful game, as the stained glass theme was brought out  perfectly in graphic design.

But the “colored dice pool” is what gets me. I’m not fully color blind but I have some legitimate difficulties with certain colors or shades. Sagrada is one of my wife’s top 3 games, but by the end of a game of Sagrada, my eyes have been strained to the point that I typically have a headache.

But you know what? It’s worth a headache to play a game with someone you love. In fact, “You are worth the headaches,” is what I’ve written every year in her Anniversary cards. Clearly, I’m a romantic and my point is that even if a game might bug you, bring it to the table occasionally and buy yourself some good will. “I’ll play X with you this time if you play Y with me next time” is a good negotiation strategy.

Next, save the genre-heavy games for another occasion. Even though your partner might be your primary gaming partner, it doesn’t mean they need to be your only gaming partner. I have a buddy that is a WW II buff, so he loves the game Memoir ’44. It’s not my wife’s kind of game obviously, but I love it and keep it in the collection just for those odd times that my buddy and I can get together.

Finally, ask nicely. We’re with our spouses because we love each other and often share interests. Let them know which games you’ve really been itching to play and ask them if they’d be willing to give them a go, even though you realize it’s not necessarily their first choice. Assume the best.

Talk about it and share what you want. Don’t push your choice every time but don’t be afraid to ask every now and then. Even though they might be in love with every game, they will almost certainly be willing to accommodate.

After all, they love you and want to play games with you too.

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