Spouse Aggro Through A Mirror, Darkly: The Dreaded Leveling Contract

April 17, 2010

I think most people who play MMORPGs are familiar with the concept of spouse aggro. We’ve all either read about it or have experienced the dangers of it first hand. I’m happy to say that Mr. MMOGC and I are fortunate enough to live our lives relatively spouse aggro-free, because we’re both avid gamers.

Nonetheless, we never let our games get in the way of real life obligations like dinner dates, important chores, appointments or outings with friends. We both agree that real life stuff should always take priority. Even so, there are times when one of us will allow the other a certain degree of leniency. For example, if we had a grocery shopping trip planned in the afternoon but he tells me he’s still in the middle of a heroic instance (“I swear, I just need fifteen more minutes to get one more little badge so I can buy epic shoulders!”) I’d be like, no problem, we’ll delay our trip for another half hour or so, it’s not a big deal. It’s because I’ve been there, and I get it. He would be affording me the same courtesy if it was the other way around. There’s no badgering at each other to log off, or grumbling about how video games are nothing but a time suck.

To be signed in blood!

That’s not to say that our gaming habits never cause problems in our relationship. My husband and I were joking about this last night over dinner and had a good laugh over it, but there’s some truth to what I’m about to say. Basically, we do our share of gaming-related bickering, but every time it happens, it’s always about one dreaded thing (cue ominous music) — the “Spousal Leveling Contract”.

Or more specifically, it’s when someone is in breach of it.

Simply stated, the terms of Spousal Level Contract are:

Both parties must maintain at least one character for the purposes of concurrent leveling in each MMORPG applicable to this agreement. Under no circumstances may either party advance said character without the presence of the other, unless prior consent has been conferred. A failure to abide by the terms of this contract will result in reparations in the form of back rubs or any other method of compensation deemed appropriate by the aggrieved party.

We’ve both been quite good at honoring the contract, though I won’t deny it, once in a while someone slips up…and it’s usually me. I acquired a number of infractions with Star Trek Online, for instance, and I blew it big time when I went back to level my old character in Age of Conan, though to be fair I still don’t think that was my fault (I gave plenty of notice, as per the agreement, yet I’m still paying for it big time). Yes, I’ll admit it, between the two of us, I guess I’m the more hardcore one when it comes to gaming. After all, my husband relies on me to pick out his Xbox 360 games for him, he’s usually the one to come to me for gaming advice, he’s always the one who follows me to new games and — ah hell, I have a game blog, enough said.

Anyway, you’ll never catch either of us telling each other “I think you spend too much time gaming and not enough time with me!” but sheesh, say an innocent little thing like, “Sweetie, just so you know I logged in the other day to train my skills and had to kill a few things to get there, so don’t be surprised if I’m ahead of you by a few bars” and boy, do I get an earful!


  1. I think it’s sweet that the both of you actually put effort into making sure your gaming draws the two of you together, instead of the alternative (drifting apart?) πŸ™‚ Kudos to team Mr. & Mrs. MMOGC!

    • Oh, and I had to Google the reference in your post. I actually recognized the line because it’s from the Bible, and now I remember that it’s near the end of a famous passage on love that’s often read out at weddings πŸ˜› ClichΓ©d (or so it might seem), but actually it’s one of my favorite passages πŸ™‚

      Oh, I guess I have seen the “In a mirror, darkly” Star Trek: Enterprise episodes. Ha, I (mostly) enjoyed Enterprise, but I always feel like it’s a less refined version of the Star Trek franchise. Like chips and pop as compared to a nice restaurant meal (I’m thinking… Chinese πŸ˜› ).

      • Interesting you commented on the title, as that was Mr. MMOGC’s idea actually (even this post was sort of teamwork πŸ˜› ) Through a glass darkly was a famous quote but he said through a mirror darkly is also a Star Trek reference, so I was like, oh okay. I didn’t know until you mentioned it that it was actually an Enterprise episode. Coincidentally, I’m making my way through the Enterprise series right now (but I hadn’t gotten to that one ep yet) and I actually kinda like it! I guess it’s like the Manchu Wok of good Chinese food if I’m to follow your analogy, but then again, I like Manchu Wok πŸ˜›

      • Heh, yeah. I (kinda) like Manchu Wok, too. Kind of like how I like Enterprise. Both might not be good for me, though πŸ˜›

  2. Heh, My ex-girlfriend and I used to play WoW together. Got quite a few characters leveled to around 60. Then after we broke up (not that I think this would happen with you two), I was stuck a bunch of toons I was to attached to get rid of. But neither did I want to play them any longer.

    • I had several characters that I leveled with an ex-boyfriend…when we broke up, I just transferred all of them to another server and just kept playing, guilt-free πŸ˜›

      • ZING!

  3. Awww! This is exactly the contract I have with my wife, and it kills me sometimes as my toon sits there when I could be out PVPing with him or something! Sure I have others, but the one I play with my wife usually becomes my main and I enjoy him more than any other.

    I really liked this post, reminds me of some great times I’ve had leveling with my wife, including being angry with her for stepping through the Dark Portal for the first time without me because she couldn’t wait until I got home from work!

    • My husband (Amuntoth) pointed me to this entry, and I got a kick out of seeing that other couples do the very same thing that we do! Very nice post.

      P.S. For the record, that stepping through the Dark Portal thing never happened and is all in his head. But I never get to live it down. Psh, husbands.

    • LOL you two are so funny, and you guys sound exactly like the two of us! We had one of those dark portal moments ourselves, but it was more like the boat to Northrend for us when WotLK came out πŸ˜› I was already in game while he was still installing and I couldn’t wait to see what Howling Fjord looked like. I didn’t think it was a big deal, but he got all on my case about that too!

  4. Wow, lots of spouses play together! My wife is not interesting in playing with my at all, but she will kindly listen to my Heroic Tales of Valor.

    • You need to get her into it πŸ˜€

    • Hey, consider yourself lucky that she’s accepting of it. There are many MANY people who aren’t that lucky πŸ™‚

      • Believe me, I’m not complaining. I am very, very lucky as it is.

    • My spouse it not a gamer either, so you’re not alone here. Look at it this way, you and I only have to keep one PC current instead of two. πŸ™‚

      • There is truth in those words!

  5. My better half and I have this same contract – he levels up a Klingon in STO if I’m not up to playing and he’s feeling the urge. In Warhammer we each had alts we agreed we were allowed to play in the absence of our special “duoing” characters.

    • Yep, we had our individual alts too! My problem is the same as Amuntoth’s though, the one I play with my husband becomes my main and I lose all interest in playing on any other characters.

  6. I would have a hard time with this contract – it is not only between spouses, but also friends. You agree to level up with them. One is always lagging behind.

    My issue is I have a hard time to play two or more characters simultaneously. I always focus on one and then drop it for an extended time to play an alt.

    This was one of the reasons I loved Guild Wars so much. Everyone was soon max level, 20, and even if I was ahead in the storyline most of the time, doing the mission again was quite fun usually. πŸ™‚

    • I have the same problem; I can have many alts but I can only concentrate on one at a time. Even though I had like 5 level 80s in WoW, only two ever got any of my attention.

      Having a leveling contract with friends is important too and very similar, the only difference is they can’t guilt you (or hound you) to the degree a spouse can when you violate the terms πŸ˜›

  7. I am very lucky that my better half also plays MMO’s we actually met while playing wow and we always game together. We also have a similar agreement with penalties such as extra chores if one of us (usually me) gets too far ahead.

    I love you blog by the way and have added you to my blogroll.

    • Cool, another WoW couple. My husband and I met while playing WoW as well πŸ™‚

      • Yep we met in Molten Core and never looked back πŸ™‚

        The only thing is, I now often hear the comment: You do the dishes or my dailies the choice is yours!

  8. *sniffles* When i was dating my ex, i promised to power level her rogue when i first found out she was floundering on some uber small server, forgot which one. I can remember all of the hours me and my Pally took her through VC. SM, and so forth. I’d always do it and go to a raid, and when she started living with me, it’s “just about” all we used to do, until she got to level 80.

    Boy, just getting her into Raids….i had a rude guild that would always say stuff about her and hurt her feelings, and i’d end up blowing my top and cussin everyone out. But she never quite liked raiding with me, even though she was actually very good with her mutilate spec, i remember all she would do was heroics with me, and we’d badge collect, and explore together ^_^ those were good times.

  9. […] he was playing it, and me because I put my character on hold while he played it (those pesky spousal leveling contracts will get you every time!). The first flaw I found with STO at the time was that due to the way […]

  10. […] Once you start, I have to admit it does get harder and harder to stop. And it’s even worse when you’re surrounded by the giddiness of so many WoW players in the MMO and blogging community today. You want to slow down and remind yourself that all the new content will still be there tomorrow, but the atmosphere is bloody infectious. For better or worse, I’ve got my husband to help me keep a good pace. Mr. MMOGC doesn’t have all that much time to play, so whenever we start new characters together, longtime readers will remember the dreaded Spousal Leveling Contract. […]

  11. […] going to stick with the Mage for a side character at launch (AKA the character not beholden to the pesky spousal leveling contract), but for my main I am stilling leaning towards support, though of course at this point, I’m […]

  12. I love your contract.
    However, I have a similar unwritten contract between the husband and myself. Another one for daughter,husband and self; and yet another for son, husband and self. I usually end up with about 3 characters at various levels that are bound to level with other family members with differing play frequencies and one just for me. The unbound character.
    Glad to see another person who delays shopping, laundry, and other household chores for the sake of an instance, level, or other virtual advancement. At present we have rearranged the living room to accomodate reclining while battleing Alfwar invasions. company may not understand it but the game player certainly do. LOL.

    Love your blog.

    • It is so written….in blood! The ‘unwritten’ contract works fine, until the spouse realizes you’ve now created another toon to play in your spare time, who’s now lvl 83 and exploring new content. Oops! Don’t worry, I’ll wait for you on our other teams. I think it’s Aelfwars btw, but at my work computer, and you know I can’t look at any gaming site to check…’they’ will lock me out.
      Love, your gaming partner.

  13. […] long and not too short. On the other hand, I’m sure if I hadn’t been constrained by a pesky spousal leveling contract, I might have hit the levelcap sooner. See, I think I’m more into this game than the mister. […]

  14. I love it! I didn’t think there were other people out there like us!

    I have a toon with the husband, a toon with each of the sons and for a while I was playing toons with my twin daughters in Wow (I won’t let them play Rift though….they were driving me crazy in WoW it was like herding cats!!)

    About the only time we fight in our household is over leveling. Lol for that period of time that we are leveling around our house we are apt to occasionally flare up in a spat or two (or three or four….lol)

    We have also rearranged the living room a time or two and put off more than one chore or anything else for the sake of the game.

    Cheers…it’s nice to know we aren’t alone!

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