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Spousal Hobby Disapproval, or, Honey I smoked the plastic crack pipe.

Oooh, what a nice-looking soap box. Rolls up sleeves.

The following sentiments were something I often heard back when I used to work in a GW:

"[Partner's name] will never let me get that."
"I brought my own carrier bag so I can sneak this purchase into the house without him/her knowing I bought more plastic crack."
"My partner will be annoyed if I start painting again, so I'd better not. Do you mind if I just look longingly at the cabinets for a while?"

One time I remember a man in his fifties bought a £100 box of space marines one day, only to bring it back the next day looking sad because his wife made him take it back. As a comedy aside, we'd had a freakishly quiet day at the shop, and so after the refund ended up making £-1.50. The minus symbol is not a typo.

Of course, on the flipside, we hobbyists often behave a lot like drug addicts. With the release of the Sector Mechanicus scenery, we can even buy a plastic crack pipe.

So today I'm going to make some suggestions around the subject of spousal disagreements brought about because of the hobby. Some of them might be a bit uncomfortable.

My partner is angry when I spend money on toy soldiers
The only reasons this can happen are: (a) you suck at budgeting, or (b) your partner is being an asshole. Or, (c), the dreaded space issue (see the next section).

Assuming that you earn money, any reasonable person would agree that if you have any left over after you've met your financial obligations, you can choose how to spend it on entertainment. If you have spare cash but are only allowed forms of entertainment that your partner approves of, they are being a controlling asshole, particularly if they spend money on the things they enjoy. If you don't have spare cash, because houses, cars, children and life are all horribly expensive, then either you have to get more efficient with those things, or you have to not buy plastic crack.

Finally, if your entertainment budget isn't big enough to buy that Battleforce box you really want, then guess what? It's time to start saving up. I don't know about you, but if I have a good hobby month I'll get like ten dudes painted, depending on how detailed I'm being, which means a £100 box will last me multiple months as a hobby project. If you're buying more stuff than you actually have time to build and paint, you are literally just farting money into a bucket, and then throwing away the bucket. If that's the case, your partner is right to ridicule you.

Personally, since my partner and I have our own bank accounts, there's no need for us to police each other's fun. So long as the bills are being paid, we're saving a little, and no-one's going into debt, why would we care what the other spends?

My partner doesn't like how much space the hobby takes up
Now this is legitimately tricky as the hobby does take up space. My dining room has five display cabinets in it, plus a shelving unit purely dedicated to hobby stuff. There's still plenty of space around the totally coincidentally 6'x4' dining table for guests to enjoy a meal, so long as they don't mind being watched by hundreds of tiny plastic eyes.

My rule is that hobby stuff is only allowed to be in that room, or under the stairs. It is not allowed to spread into other parts of the house like a metastasising plastic tumour, because one must give oneself limits. That also forces me to keep things somewhat tidy, or else we won't have anywhere to serve up a meal.

Experience tells me that I can't keep my stuff tidy if it doesn't have a designated place with sufficient storage. When I first moved to Oxford I tried to keep it all in my wardrobe and under my bed, and it was such a faff to get everything out that it rarely got tidied away, and the whole thing was a train wreck. So for me, living somewhere with enough space to accommodate my hobby is actually pretty crucial, but assuming you don't have a randomly unused room (and I don't), you're going to have to find a way of allowing the space to serve two functions.

If your partner is still unhappy, because they don't like how hobby stuff looks, then in might be worth investing in some presentable furniture so that it's all out of sight when tidy. The key thing is that it should be easy to get out again, or it'll descend into a bomb site.

In closing
Whilst my comedically blunt tone indicates that I think these are relatively clear decisions, I can only assume they're not universally accepted truths given how often I heard the complaints I wrote back at the start. If any of this does apply to you, and I've hurt your feelings, then I'm sorry.

Ultimately, though, neither you or your partner are obliged to put up with their other half being a dick, so if you're having these arguments and then confiding in GW shop staff afterwards... maybe a calm, reasonable conversation is the thing your hobby (and I guess your relationship) needs.


  1. My lovely wife supports me in my hobby, I am a lucky man. I work to keep the space the hobby takes to a minimum, and only buy when I have nothing left to work on (others clearly struggle with this, and I can’t really judge them when my own struggle is with junkfood!!). I also only spend from my own pocket when everything else is paid, so if a partner has a problem after all that then how are they being a supportive partner eh? I did smile when I pictured your dinner guests being watched by serried ranks of figures :D

    1. It sounds like you've got your hobby discipline down to a tee! Props, Ragsta :D

      The way you do it is certainly what I aspire to, but I often end up buying new stuff before I've finished everything. I've been much better over the last few years, though. It seems discipline begets discipline.

    2. Weeeell it did take a long tine to get to this point >.< I finally have a display case now and part of what regulates my hobby is fitting everything in :) Having said that now the figure cases are empty.... Hmmmm :P

    3. I'm pretty sure that GW's relentless release schedule will have those figure cases filled up in no time :P

      Fortunately their sheer relentlessness has finally broken my instinct to BUY ALL THE NEW SHINIES.

  2. Some great points! I am lucky my wife understands well enough as her hobbies are a bit geeky also! I have half of a spare bedroom which slowly alternates between super tidy and very messy, and somehow in this I manage to get painting done.

    My time (by other commitments) and money (my mutual agreement) is limited these days, so my leadpile is slowly diminishing as I work on projects. If the money wasn't limited I would overflow with new shinies that I didn't actually want for anything in particular.
    We seem to have a good partnership in these regards -I do feel sorry for friends of mine who do get hassle from partners and don't get to enjoy themselves so much.

    1. Thanks Tim!

      Sounds to me like you're living well within your hobby means. If the lead pile is diminishing, victory is being achieved. :)


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