Geeky Pursuits

It’s no secret that we’re a family of geeks. Aaron and I met many years ago when performing at the Ohio Renaissance Festival. At our wedding, the music we used for the entrance to our reception was the Throne Room music from Star Wars. Aaron still reads comics. A lot. We love Doctor Who and several other sci-fi dramas. Our daughters have dressed up as superheroes more than once and can recognize many of the great figures in nerddom.

You get the point.

Lately, my darling husband has developed a new hobby: superhero costuming. As in, he is making costumes so he can dress up like superheroes at sci-fi or comic conventions. 

 this is him as Spiderman
featured on MTV’s website from C2E2 this past weekend (he’s the Batman on the left)
posing with a kid as Superman

I said we were a geeky family, folks. You’re suddenly viewing us in a WHOLE new light now, aren’t you?

When I say hobby, what I really mean is obsession. For the past six months, this subject has consumed him more than any other. He’s spent much of his free time on costuming websites, message boards, and now Facebook groups. His Facebook friends have grown dramatically, and suddenly his friends list contains more strangers to me than people I know. He’s even working to form a local chapter of a non-profit group that sends out members dressed as superheros to visit sick kids in hospitals, participate in charity events, etc.

There are some upsides. His costumes look very good, and it’s motivated him to work out more to look good in them, too. Spandex is unforgiving. He gets lots of praise and attention for the costumes, which I’m sure is a self-esteem boost. Choosing to do charity events to bring a smile to sick kids makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside and love him even more for his generous heart.

So what in the world am I getting at in this post?

As geeky as we are as a family, this costuming thing is driving me nuts.

I fully supported him when he started it. He’s always been a comic fan, so it was a natural extension of his interests. But as it developed into an obsession, well, I’ve felt left behind. As he sits on the couch each night, his eyes are glued to message board and his costuming Facebook groups. His Facebook page is almost entirely about costuming now.

When he’s working on a new costume, he’s consumed with wanting to get it done and anything that gets in the way leaves him grumpy and irritable. And then there are the women who are really into costuming, too, who get a little too touchy, close or clingy with him at conventions. I try not to get jealous, however I’d be lying if I didn’t admit it puts a stress on our relationship.

But there’s also this: he wants me to join in and dress up with him.

Many years ago, I used to design and make costumes. I used much of my graduation money from college to purchase a very fancy computerized sewing machine that can do everything except make you coffee and sew the damn thing for you. I made renaissance costumes for friends and for myself. I was good enough that people even bough some from me. At one time I was working on a Master’s degree in costume design.

(Another surprise for you? Yeah, this onion has LOTS of layers. It’s like you never knew me, right? And hey, I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up!)

After having kids, though, sewing dropped off the radar. It was a hobby I no longer had time for and since we no longer performed at the renaissance festival, there wasn’t a need to make new costumes. Work and a screaming, colicky baby who turned into a grumpy, tantrum-prone toddler kept me away from scissors, needles and thread. Probably good to keep me away from pointy things, considering my mood at the time.

I haven’t used that fancy sewing machine in six years. So when Aaron asked me to help in making his costumes, I resisted due to forgetting many skills. Also: I’m busy. Work, kids, getting this house decluttered – when do I have time for sewing?

But asking me to dress up, too? I’m just not sure what to do. I know he really, really wants me to do it. He thinks it would be a fun hobby to do together (he’d love to get the kids dressed up, too) and continually suggests characters I could become. He’s even enlisted the help of his Facebook friends to brainstorm ideas for me of characters I’ve never even heard of.

I feel pressured, though. I’m not nearly as into this idea as him, and I’m already annoyed at how much time (and money) he sinks into it. As it is, we have so many other things that need to get done first that I don’t have time to think about hobbies. And I don’t want to spend all of my free time going to conventions in costumes – I want us to do a lot of different activities as a family. Maybe even see the sunshine once in awhile. I also am a little more shy and don’t necessarily like everyone looking at me.

We’ve discussed the issue already, and Aaron concedes he’s been a little obsessed and needs to cut back on his hobby. It can’t take up all of his spare time, and beyond hobbies there are still a lot more responsibilities we need to devote more time to as well. He’s agreed to cut back and try to give more focus to the home and other family activities.

But he’d still like me to join him when he does dress up. I don’t know what to do at this point. My irrational mind worries that if I don’t meet him halfway and participate that he’ll continue down that path without me and eventually we’ll be two people with drastically different interests who have nothing in common. (Can I follow an idea to the dramatic, extreme end or what?)

I’m not against the idea…I’m just not excited about it, probably because I already resent how much time and energy this hobby has absorbed. I’m not going to ask him to stop entirely, either – that’s just silly, and I do support the charity work he wants to do with it. There just needs to be balance. And boundaries.

I don’t know if participating only to support my husband and his interests would possibly lead to having a lot of fun in the process, or if my lack of passion would only make me resent it?

They don’t cover these kinds of issues in the imaginary marriage handbook. If your spouse has a hobby he’s passionate about and wants you to get involved so you can share it together, do you go along with it even if you’re not as interested? What do you think?

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  1. That is tough. I would probably TRY it, even if I were pretty sure that I wouldn’t get into it. I guess I’d want to feel like I at least attempted to make it our thing; and if it turned out that I truly couldn’t get into it, I would expect that husband would understand. I think I agree with Karen, above. Good luck!

  2. Hmm, that’s kind of a tough one! What about trying it once, maybe borrowing a costume so you only really have to invest the time there, and just see if you like it. If so, great; if not, just as great. First though I’d probably give it a month or so post-talk with Aaron just to give the reining in of the obsession some time to take hold. If nothing else, it will let your frustrations relax a little so the “baggage” attached with the idea isn’t there so much. See the changes he’s making to focus more on balance, and it will probably make you feel less… unimpressed? … with the idea.

  3. I used to bowl in a league with my husband. Did not know how, did not want to learn, did not start out very well but I thought it would be good together time. It was. Of course, ten years and two kids later, i’d be all “whatthehellareyoutalkingabout?” Give it a try. Once, twice. I love seeing my guy jazzed about something and that might make it worth it. If not, at least you can say you gave it a go. Then wrangle some project time out of him to mark things off the to do list.

  4. You may want to give it a try, there are things you could find rewarding in it. However, I think there are some things you should negotiate first. Perhaps a budget of time and money for both of you on your external interests and family time.
    I am a hard core introvert, and well, you know Jake. It can be hard to find the balance that works for both, but by maintaining communication, i am certain you can work it out.

  5. That’s not an uncommon hobby I hear.
    Stopping by from the UBP to say hello.
    Have a great weekend!

  6. Anonymous says:

    i say participate once in a while just to make him happy. think of all the things hes ever done to make you happy that might have not enjoyed as much as you.
    you never know maybe it would be fun

  7. I think you’d have fun. I doubt you’d be as enthusiastic as Aaron, but I can see you having a good time. Try to pick a character you know and would feel good dressing up as. I look forward to it!

  8. I think you’d have fun. I doubt you’d be as enthusiastic as Aaron, but I can see you having a good time. Try to pick a character you know and would feel good dressing up as. I look forward to it!

  9. I agree with the other comments. At least do it once, if that would make him happy. You might enjoy it anyway.

  10. Cosplay can be fun. Personally I would stick to a character that I knew and resonated with me otherwise it would not be as much fun. I would however set limits on it, but I don’t think there is any harm in trying a simple costume and seeing how you liked it.

  11. Rachael Heiner says:

    What if you agreed to one or two set events each year where you’d make costumes together? Like a certain annual convention or thing that he likes to go to? That way you could do it together sometimes, but it would be limited and would maybe take some weight off your shoulders. I totally get how it is to get obsessive about something (I am having a slight nail polish/nail art obsession right now), but hopefully he can cut back and realize that it’s going to be great in moderation. The upside to all this? I bet your kids are going to have super awesome Halloween costumes from now on! :-)

  12. As a geek with a LOT of cosplaying friends, I feel your pain. However, I think it would be worth a shot. I can see that his choice so far have been very revealing costumes and I would certainly feel just as uncertain as you are about anything to do with spandex, but why not going for a Doctor Who combo to start with? I adore the show, have ever since I was 14 years old and the new series has only revitalised my appreciation. Since you both love the show, it should be a cosplay that appeals to you both and, the best part, allows you to dress distinctively yet in normal clothing! Then attend an event with him and see how you go. You might be surprised.

  13. After walking away from the SCA for three years, I’m finally getting back into the organization and my husband isn’t. I’m pretty sure I can manage to sustain a hobby that my husband doesn’t share with me, and Aaron will probably have to accept the fact that he won’t be sharing cosplaying with you. I don’t see much sense in you being uncomfortable for his sake, and if you can’t even get comfortable with trying it out then that’s a red flag.

    As with most problems, my guess is that this will be self-correcting in time. Any involvement in an organization at the level Aaron’s running at means that he will get burned out sooner or later, and the hobby will subside.

  14. If the thought of doing this fills you with agitation and stress, do yourself a favor and don’t do this.

    My wife Valkyrie has recently rejoined the SCA. She would love it if I rejoined and there has been some pressure put on me to go to an event and try things out, but I have resisted and been the better for it. Like your husband Aaron, Valkyrie has a great passion for the organization and numerous friends and acquaintances in the organization that I don’t share. Attending SCA events gives Valkyrie this fulfillment she is unable to find elsewhere, but the thought of attending one just fills me with dread.

    I know that letting her go off and participate in this activity with minimal objection is the right thing to do since she enjoys it so. I also know that not participating in it is the right thing for me to do because I don’t need to add more stress to my life or ruin her time at events by keeping up a brave face (which she usually sees right through).

    We’ve gone our separate ways on this hobby and that has come with its share of hardships. I worry about how her involvement with the SCA will affect our finances and limit the time we get to spend together. However our choice not to share this hobby also makes us happier people, and in the end I’ve found that tends to lead to a happier, stronger marriage.

  15. I think Rachel hit the nail on the head. My husband loving board games. We do a couple of conventions together every year for his hobby, and I make a point to make playing games with him part of our ways to spend couple time together. It’s an okay way to spend time, but I don’t love it like he does, and I probably wouldn’t play much if I wasn’t married to him. It is my way of saying that I love him. That being said, I don’t love it as he does, and I have been known to speak up (with vehemence) when I feel that his hobby is overtaking me and our family and responsibilities in terms of priority in his life. I think communication is the key– and deal cutting (okay, let’s do this convention, but we have to get the garage cleaned out and in ship-shape before we leave) also works for our family. Good luck!

  16. MN RN Mom says:

    I agree that the key to it is balance. My hubby is super into the superheros as well – I agree to go to a couple of the movies with him a year – not every single one and he’s more or less ok with it. He doesn’t have the skill, time or talent for the cosplay (thank goodness – we don’t have the budget either!) but I humor him by indulging him in some of his Marvel/DC fandom on occasion.

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