Photo of a video game controller with a blue and pink background
My Experimental Year

Experiment #1 Results: Engage in Your Spouse’s Hobby

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I spent 31 days playing video games with my husband. I hypothesized that it would lead to a deeper connection, more fun, and more positive interactions. But did it?

As a reminder, this is part of My Experimental Year

Every month in 2024, I’m choosing an activity to do daily to see how it adds (or doesn’t) to my life. Many of these experiments have to do with a fantasy version of myself. I feel like I would be a better person or more interesting or more actualized/fulfilled if I did these things.

But is it actually true? It’s time to officially find out.

If yes, then maybe these actions become part of my regular routine. If no, maybe it’s time to release my imaginings of what would make my life better. 

Experiment #1 was to engage in your spouse’s hobby. (You can read all of the details HERE.) And I succeeded! There was one day when we played a board game together instead of a video game but that was “allowed” in my experiment guidelines. 

This experiment brought up a lot of thoughts about relationships, screen time, and more, so let’s dig into it. 


Most of the marriages I have seen up close in my life, especially my parents and grandparents relationships have seemed, at best, like business partnerships— most conversations revolve around discussing the logistics of who is going where, when or what the plan is for supper. Not-at-best, their relationships more closely resembled that of hostile roommates. 

I struggle to find a single memory of a couple that has been married for multiple decades seeming like they actually like each other and enjoy doing things together. 

Of course, this is an outsider’s view of another couple’s marriage and I have no clue what was going on. But the impression has stuck with me. 

Austin and I have been married for 13 years and I want to have shared hobbies. I want to spend time having fun together. I don’t want our marriage to be like roommates or business partners. 

We have both worked from home for the past five years. We’re both homebodies. We’re both in the same house all day every day together with very little exception. But that doesn’t mean that we’re doing things together. Apparently, doing things together takes more intention than coexisting within the same structure.  

This brings me to my next point: Is it weird to make “spending time with my spouse” what is essentially a to-do list task?

To-Do List Guilt

As I settled in to play video games on day two of the experiment there was the tiniest twinge of guilt that I had put it on my to-do list to spend time with my husband—like it was something to check off the list and not something that would just happen naturally. 

But there are two truths here. It does happen naturally, just not super often. The other truth is that I am a little a planner—the kind of person who would block off 4 hours on a Saturday afternoon and literally write on their calendar “Do something spontaneous.” 

Things that are planned happen. So another way of looking at this would be to say, I am prioritizing this beautiful relationship I have with my husband by planning time to spend together. I decided that it served me best to think of it this way. 


What about increasing the amount of time I spend staring at a screen? I often try to spend less time on my phone and watching shows, so it did feel a little odd to set a goal that meant more screen time. 

I’ve realized that video games provide a way to connect. 

We play Wii Sports with my mother-in-law in Michigan while chatting on speakerphone as a way to hang out together instead of just a basic phone call. Austin plays with his nephew in Utah for hours each week and it is a special time for both of them! Austin has also been able to spend time playing ESO with great people around the world while housebound and isolated (he has been disabled for the past 2.5 years).

Sure playing video games for hours each day alone could be seen as not the best use of time, but like any kind of technology, video games are a tool and can be used to increase connection! 

More Insights:

  • I am not super competitive and don’t like the conflict that competition can bring, so I found that co-op games feel more like quality time to me. The occasional competition is fine, but I can’t handle too much of it. 
  • It’s fun to have fun together! (Obvious, but important.)

My Notes From Day 15

I think my expectation may have been that in playing games together, our relationship would change in some big, amazing way. But the truth is, we have an awesome relationship. There are certainly rougher moments, but it’s already good. 

In the past few days, what I’ve noticed is that our vibe together feels more relaxed—like we’re not getting as quickly irritated with each other. It’s not monumental, but it’s a nice shift. Maybe it is a result of more positive interactions. 

Relationship researcher John Gottman has found a crucial correlation between the ratio of positive to negative interactions that couples share and the happiness of their relationship. Apparently the ratio is 5 to 1. For every one negative feeling or interaction, you need to have 5 positive ones. (Source)

It’s also not like we’re having deep conversations. We’re playing a game and often listening to an audiobook, so there’s not much verbal communication at all. But it’s shared time and shared experience. And that counts for something.

What Did My Husband Think?

You might wonder what Austin’s opinion about my experiment was since he is directly involved. However, this was my experiment, not his. 

Did I ask him if he liked it? Yup. And he said emphatically, yes! 

But to dig any deeper into his thoughts feels weirdly self-serving and not the point. I did this for me 🙂 because I wanted to increase positive interactions and spend more time together. 


One of the difficult parts of this experiment was that it caused me to have less time for other things in the evening. On a day that I worked late, we had supper and played video games right when I got done working. I watched some shows while I folded the mountain of clean laundry that had accumulated and then I went to bed. 

There wasn’t time for much else that I enjoy doing. I would like to add to my regular routine: exercise, painting, and more reading. Time is a finite thing and spending time playing video games means that I am not spending that time going for a walk.


My original hypothesis was that, in short, we would have deeper connection, more fun, and more positive interactions.

And that was definitely true! We had fun together. We seemed less easily irritated by each other. Since we played the couple of video games that I enjoy, so I had a good time. 

Do I want to continue playing video games with my husband? Yes, but not daily. There were days when I would have chosen to read or take a nap instead. 

I want to bring a bit more balance to this, maybe playing video games 3-4 times per week instead of every single day. This would be a lot more than my pre-experiment 1-2 times per month. As I write this on the 7th day of February, I think I’ve played 3 times this month, so I’m on track with this new balance. 

I’m glad that I went all in on this for a month and got to see the benefits and challenges clearly. 

I would love to know what you think of this experiment! Do you want to engage in your spouse’s hobby more? Leave a comment and let me know. 

Pinterest image: I spent 31 days playing video games with my husband. Read the results!

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