One of the first things I did when I got married was learn to play Starcraft. In Hubby's estimation this is the best computer game ever invented so although it was complicated and took months to master, I figured it would be worth it in the long run. At first I did it solely for him, to enter his world and to have something to share with him that he enjoyed. I didn't count on getting hooked.
After a few months of playing through the missions by myself, I figured I had enough mad skillz I could take on my Hubby in combat. I got trounced. He thoroughly beat, humiliated and ground me into the dirt. I got angry and began to plot revenge. I also threw a little fit and refused to talk to him for a couple of hours.
I tried again later and again got completely humiliated. I threw more hissy fits. Hubby decided he didn't want to put up with my pouting and lack of being a gracious loser and so he decreed that henceforth we would always team up against the computer.
So that is what we did. For the next five years we have steadily been playing game after game, at first only playing two computers then gradually more and more opponents on larger and larger maps. I am happy to say that often nowadays I get a higher score at the end of a game than Hubby does, but I have a feeling he would still whip my tail if I were to go head to head with him.
An interesting thing has happened over the years, however. Every time we play we try to pick screen names that make each other laugh. Since we pick a new name for every game, the list of old names gets longer and longer. The other night we looked back at some of the screen names we had used in the past and saw a quirky sort of diary emerge of our entire marriage.
Of course many of the names we chose involve food and Starcraft characters, such as "Zerg In My Pizza" or some such nonsense. But many of the names refer to an event. There was "Bun In My Oven" one time, an oddly maternal name for a game where total annihilation is the ultimate goal. Another time the name referred to "My Barnacle" which was what I called Seth during the period of time that he was nursing almost nonstop. I vividly remember playing Starcraft with one hand while nursing my newborn in the opposite arm.
Remembering back to my expectations of marriage from a naive young twenty-something's perspective, I doubt I would ever think of using a computer game to foster a good marriage relationship. Such a thing would never even have entered my thinking. Yet as we have gone along the marriage road, Starcraft is almost always one of the things that can quickly restore a sense of harmony in our relationship. The ability to relax and have fun, to pull together in teamwork and jointly trounce an enemy, to work together to defend a base or build an army, these things have done much toward keeping us sane and healthy. We have gone so far as to develop a litany of inside jokes and Hubby suddenly announcing in a fake deep voice, "I do this for Aiur, not for you," will send us into peals of laughter, which we then smother and tell each other how nerdy we are.
Of course, there are the times we lose miserably then angrily blame one another, but usually we try to play an easy enough game on the last time through that we can win it and have a positive ending. Lately we have not played as often either, but when we do it brings the warm sense of shared purpose and memory that only comes from years of association.
Over the years I have developed a philosophy that life should involve occasional periods of recreation. Some people spend far too much time on recreation, of course, and they miss opportunities to better themselves or to help others. But once in a while, I think shared times of pure simple recreational fun is truly healthy in a relationship. And though we also play Scrabble, go for walks or do other activities, by far the most consistent theme of our playtime has been Starcraft. I highly recommend it for any new couple entering a marriage relationship. I have always secretly imagined myself as a much-sought-after marriage counselor and my secret method is that I send frustrated couples home with a copy of Starcraft and they come back to thank me with tears and hugs later as their marriage has been completely restored.