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Bringing Camp Followers into the fray

Better titled "How to get wives to wargame".

Pull your carcass near the campfire as we discuss this most serious of topics; one near to hearts and wallets. To wit, how do we encourage our spouses and girlfriends (but not at the same time) to wargame? I will convey my understanding and I speak with some authority. Not only does my wife play but she's good enough to beat me frequently and to make the most skilled players sweat a little. She also paints very well and is respected throughout the community. She was once offered $300 by a gentleman if she could get his wife to wargame! What he was willing to pay for, I will offer free. No rude comments please...

If you really want your wife to have a decent chance at enjoying this hobby, you have a bit of work on your hands. It will cost you time and money but I assure you the rewards are worth it.

First and formost, clear your mind of the delusions that wargaming is fun, that it is easy, and that it is normal. By itself it is none of these things, else everyone would be doing it! Wargaming is boring as dirt, it is demanding in both time and money, and there are probably more people defined as "insane" than as "wargamers", so we are not really "normal", if you get my drift. This is what your wife sees when you go off to play with little men and act like you are a great general from the past. Unless your wife plays with Barbie dolls and thinks of herself as Cleopatra, you have your work cut out for you.

Your first task is to accept that she may never care about your hobby and may never ever move a figurine from one place to another, except to hurl it out the window. However, all is not lost! Even if she never plays herself, a diligent following of this course of action can increase her lead tolerance. Second best, but if it means less family struggle when paying for those new units, is it not worth it?

Your next challenge is to get your priorities straight. Many times famlies struggle over time allocation, undone housework, and where to spend money. Your wife should be your first temporal priority, period. Far above house, car, or even those custom painted 25mm Scottish Highlanders you've not told her about. If she wants your attention give it to her. Look up from the painting table and answer her questions. Clean your brush and go into the living room so she can talk to you.

Your hobby is important to you. You know it, she knows it. Until your behavior proves to her that she is *more* important than the hobby she will contend for time and attention. You do the same thing so don't get in a huff! You want supper without having to cook, you want time alone without having to listen about what her friends are doing. Do not get in a hurry to change her ways, but start changing yours. Show her that she is the priority and you will relieve her of the need to be reminded.

Have you ever tried quilting? You know, those neat patterns on a warm blanket? Me neither. I have not the interest to love it nor the finger coordination to keep myself unattached from the quilt. But my wife spent time quilting as it interested her. Now, think this through. You want her to join you in a hobby she finds boring; what should you do if she wants the same thing? Exactly! Go with her to the quilty place store. Let her register for classes and make sure she has the materials needed to quilt. Give her time to do so and make sure you listen when she describes what shes doing. Whether it makes sense is irrelevant, LISTEN! Ask questions about the quilt, even if you think the questions are dumb. They are dumb! By asking you point out to her that you are, in fact, there with her and not thinking about the color scheme on some line infantry.

At this point you may realize I have only discussed changing your behavior, not your wife's attitude. Correct. You can never change your wife's attitude but you can, with hard work, remove the barriers. The first two things discussed, if done for some time, will build your credibility. How much time it takes really depends on how much you have already drawn from that well. For some it may just mean a month or three; for others who have forced their spouse into a secondary role it may take years before she really believes you. It is hard work, but often the right thing to do really is not easy, is it?

As I said, after some time your wife may interrupt your painting sessions less and she may even ask you what army you're painting. This is going to be a difficult test for you to pass because the immediate response is to think she's interested in what you're doing and rush ahead and explain it. The next thing she knows you have placed 23 packets of lead for the opponents side in front of her and have the Osprey books on order!

Don't do that. Trust me here, just don't.

What you *should* do is talk to her about what you're doing using language she relates to. Wargaming is a multi-facted hobby; it covers history, competition, community, research, buying and selling, and even travel to exotic locations to *really* see where things were. If she asks, don't give a regiment designation with commander's rank and family pedigree. If she likes travel, let her know you're painting the unit that defended the open field you saw last year when you went to the convention. If she likes reading, answer her interest by noting that you're painting them according to the Opsrey book you got in the mail. Get the picture? She is just as intelligent, if not moreso, than most of the people in the hobby. If you respond to something she's interested in it may well encourage her to see that it is not nearly so stupid as she thought.

The sidearm to this part is the patience of a commander who watches for just the right opprotunity and doesn't budge until it arrives. You are not trying to conquer her but the things that keep her from your hobby. Things like time, which she will get more of if you help around the house. She may be hesitant to paint until you show her not only how easy it is, but how nice a basic colored set of figures can look half a table away. Most beginners don't really know what "their" army is at first, so you may need to spend time web-searching for something she likes the looks of or finds some interest in. You are going to have to stifle your commentary as she likely cares nothing for  "killer troops" or maneuver capability. She will pick her army for her reasons and if you can get this far compliment her on it.

One thing you may want to do is offer to tour the next convention with her. I mean whatever parts she wants to look at. From the Napoleonics to the Fokkers, down by the Bizmarks and over to the Space Orks. Remember, your desire is that she enjoy wargaming. She may or may not like what you play right now, but if she'll need you to branch out a bit so she can play, why complain? Pacing, lads, pacing! Let her goes as fast or not so fast as she likes. Once she mentally owns that choice she'll be much happier making it.

When I said my wife was great I left out a bit of the story. If you've made it this far and are still reading then you are ready for it. The guys who rolled their eyes early on and went back to painting don't deserve this last bit, the juiciest  morsel.

My wife plays the same game I do, plays it very well as she placed at the largest convention, painted her own army, and occasionally orders me down to the dealer's area so I can buy lead for myself. I am not exaggerating here one bit. Actually that's a conservative statement; I have enough unpainted lead for at least six full sized armies, not counting the one she got me for Christmas.

My wife, like every other wife, wants a strong relationship to her spouse. For this reason she invested a lot of energy in picking up this hobby. She wanted to spend time with me. That's the real secret, lads. Your wife doesn't care about Combat Factors, Armor Penetration, or even Maneuver Class; she cares about you. If you return the favor and care enough to connect her with whatever parts of wargaming she's repelled by the least then she will resist less. She may even join you and if you're as blessed as I, you'll have to work to keep up with her.

It's just that simple. She loves you and wants to spend time with you. Make the hobby fun for her and life is vastly improved.

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