Making Marriage and Magic Work


In 2015, I was in Las Vegas for the Modern Masters 2015 Grand Prix, and I realized something: I'm all alone, I just barely missed out on Day 2, I'm on the brink of divorce, and things aren't okay. How did I end up here when things had been going so well just 18 months earlier? Looking back on it I can see it was a gradual shift.

My wife and I had a son together, and I'd received a promotion at work. I went to the graveyard shift at work to try to keep from putting our son in daycare—my wife worked a morning shift. We were two ships passing in the night just trying to keep moving forward, and whenever we did have a day off together, it wasn't quality time because one of us was trying to catch up on sleep.

I'd been playing Magic fairly competitively off and on for many years, and it was even more difficult than ever to fit in time for playtesting, local tournaments, qualifiers, etc. I had a few close friends that I tested with and traveled to tournaments with—this meant leaving my family for a few hours per week to get in a few games and discuss match-ups, deck changes, and sideboarding strategy.

Since I didn't have too much time these days for grinding, I only made two larger tournaments that year: A Team Sealed Grand Prix in Portland, and the MaxPoint championships in Indianapolis. Traveling to these two tournaments required me to leave the family at home due to the wife's work schedule and that didn't help the home situation. By the end of 2014 it was pretty easy to see how things got so bad; my wife and I were each meeting with lawyers, preparing for a divorce.

Around the same time, Grand Prix Las Vegas for Modern Masters 2015 was announced. It was scheduled for the weekend of my birthday, and I was likely going to be a single man. I had a very rough year working graveyard, and it was time to do something for me. How could I NOT go to the Grand Prix? Of course, this meant that I was traveling to the tournament alone, but that was okay; it's a pretty easy drive to Las Vegas from Idaho—about 12 hours. A nice, quiet, solitary drive away from my problems at home could do me good.

I didn't have too much time to draft the format ahead of time, so I was planning on getting some side events in, since I would be there two days early. I had quite a bit of success in drafts on Thursday and Friday, and I had a two-round bye from winning a Grand Prix Trial back in Boise—I was feeling pretty good going into Saturday morning. Fast-forward to the end of the day and I found myself entering round nine at six wins and two losses; if I won this round I'd be able to make Day 2. But I didn't win; I lost, and I was crushed. Suddenly, I was spending my birthday alone in Las Vegas, with nothing to show for it, and I left a wife and son at home. It was in this moment that I realized I needed to change something in my life.

When I got back, my wife and I decided that we owed it to each other and our son to work on fixing our problems. I could see that Magic was becoming a distraction from what was really important to us, so I made the (very difficult) decision to place Magic on the back burner for a while. When I told my wife that I was putting Magic on hold, she was very surprised that I was actually making that sacrifice. She knew that Magic was an important part of my life for many years, so I think she really took it to heart.

Fast-forwarding a few months, things were going very well so I was "rewarded" by my wife, if you will. She told me that I should go play a Draft with some friends to have a bit of guy time. While I was there, I was catching up with one of my friends, and we came up with an idea: If we got our wives together for girl time, we would get more guy time, and therefore more Magic. This worked out better than expected.

Our wives became very close friends very quickly. We both have sons pretty close to the same age that loved to play together. Before long, we were having game nights together on the weekends that started by having dinner with the two families, then the wives would chat and knit (their hobby of choice) while the little kids play together and the adults and older kids play a game of Commander. After Commander, the older kids went to play video games while my friend and I would get in some Standard and Modern playtesting.

Eighteen months of a marriage crumbling partially due to playing Magic. Eighteen months of a family coming back together partially due to Magic. I learned that Magic can be very powerful, depending on how you use it. When people prioritize their lives and decide what they really feel is important, they can make anything work.

Ron Taylor is a 31-year-old from Idaho who has been playing Magic since Urza's Saga. Magic-wise, he enjoys competitive events with moderate success, but no has major accomplishments. Ron prefers Limited tournaments because it puts everyone on a level playing field. He also prefers Limited because he always chooses the wrong constructed deck for a particular metagame. Outside of Magic, he loves outdoor activities such as hiking the mountains of Idaho with his wife and three-year-old son. When he's not hiking or playing Magic, you can find him teaching his little man how to fish.

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