Playing games has been an integral part of our lives since we’ve known each other – After all, our first contact happened within the streets of Final Fantasy XIV’s Limsa Lominsa, one of the original main hubs of the game. Past that point, we game daily, sometimes together, sometimes side by side on our own, and sometimes we take up our board games for a chill evening.
Of course, us both being a bit more competitive and me being a Borderline person, this brings a multitude of dilemmas and chances for us to grow. We manage to enhance our communication, our bond deepens, and as we pull off amazing feats against overpowered Player vs Player situations and more, we get to experience incredible victories together. And on the flip side, we have to go through the painful losses and trying to get better as a unit when we lose. Something that has been very hard for me especially.
Lesson #1: Patience
One of the things that I’ve noticed to improve tremendously while I take on the challenges of games with my husband is my level of patience and tolerance. Because of my overwhelming mountain of mental issues, it’s sometimes very difficult for me to let him do his thing, even if I rationally and lovingly want him to be enjoying his time with me within those virtual worlds. My anxiety over silly little things is on a level of a dystopian dictatorship, and so, occasionally, our lovely game time can turn into a snappy angst fest.
I’ve had my fair share of my husband being a bit impatient with me too (one special fire slug incident comes to mind), though generally, he is the one telling me everything is alright and good in the world. I suppose things can twist our bolts in these simulated situations when one wants to move on and the other wants to keep investigating or chasing their own wants. In these moments, patience is key: we can both have what we came there for, be it that weapon he has been fixated on, or the random butterfly I started to follow and died because I strayed too far from my protector.
Lesson #2: Communication
Some people would argue that communication is the most important thing to a long, healthy relationship. And what better place to practice than taking on a boss fight where you each have your own task to perform, or playing as a team against other people for the glory and honor? I must say, I don’t understand why the older generations don’t realize the incredible value of an epic raid team of 8 or more people, all from different parts of the world in most cases. It takes a good bit of leadership and team skills to pull off a well-coordinated slaying of a dragon.
For me, playing with my husband has brought forward some improvements. The clarity in which we need to convey our current situation in any given moment of the match or fight translates into more clarity in regular life. And on the other hand, sometimes we just read each other well enough to not have to say a word before performing the desired actions. This being said, there’s still a lot of room to improve upon for both of us: I, for example, need to practice not taking everything to heart and not be so snappy in my vocalizations. Constructive feedback and loads of love typically get you to places better than being a screaming, growling ball of hedgehog quills.
Lesson #3: Dynamics
Whatever you may believe in today’s crazy chaos of different ideologies that try to tell you they are the only right way to do things, I’m here to tell you that most of them got it wrong. Everything on the planet, and dare I say the universe, is based on hierarchy. All the way from the foodchains to the Earth having to revolve around to the sun and so forth, the roles of leader and follower are always there. It is no different in our human relationships, and there is nothing bad or wrong about it.
I have found that playing games with your husband is among the best ways to settle down the hierarchy and roles of the unit. Are you the point of attack, going in while your partner supports you from the back lines? Are you the sneaky assassin, waiting for your opportunity to strike while your companion gives you the openings? Or are you perhaps a combination, an aggressive support that heals and deals deadly blows while tending to the injured? Whatever you may be, you will need to dance together with your partner to overcome the obstacles in your way. If you can’t find your place in the dance, it is very likely you will both end up with the words ‘’Gamer Over’’ on your screen and life both.
In our case, I’m the support that sometimes fights if I have to. I prefer to stay a safe distance away while my husband goes ham on the monsters or players. In our games, I rely on him heavily to lead us to victory in heated battles with his tactical knowledge and unyielding ferocity, while he relies on me to guide us through maps and materials, without me, there wouldn’t be a weapon for him to use to beat the baddies to a pulp. In real life, this is showcased in him doing his due diligence as my husband, working his ass off to provide for us, and bringing home the bounty, which I can then transform into things we need and want as his housewife. This being said, make no mistake: Mrs. Vana can kill any boss tossed in her path, especially if it slapped her husband so hard he had to return to his realm before the fight was over!
Lesson #4: Acceptance
If you’ve been reading this blog before, you may know that one of the things I struggle with the most is my feeling of inadequacy. When I fail, I am the worst scum on the planet. And oh boy, in games do I keep failing. Sometimes it’s not even my own mistakes as people like to be scrubby and ruin other people’s games by cheating. These low-grade hackers put on their infinite Health and spell castings, making it so that the only thing that can kill them is gravity, or in some cases, poison as they forget to apply all the invulnerability filters to their trash characters.
What this means for me is that I get to practice acceptance. Sometimes things just aren’t up to me, and even if there was something I could’ve done better, there’s no need for me to eat my soul over a failure. Games are a safe place to do this, with infinite respawns and do-overs, and what better way to train this mental handicap than with my husband. Hours upon hours of Player vs Player with him taught me that it’s ok to ‘’fail’’. In my husband’s mind, there’s no failure, there is just something you can learn from and move on with your life. Make progress, at your own pace, and remember: There’s no need to chew out your head if you don’t get it on the first go. And even if the odds are against you, you should try it out, you might surprise yourself. I can’t tell you how many times we have been up against boosters in the World of Warcraft arena fights, them having significantly better gear and at least a third more health. Yet, we still wipe the floor with them consistently.
Lesson #5: Letting go
Together with acceptance comes the art of letting go. The general rule of the household is: A game is a game and stays in the game. At the end of the day, we will have each other. He will work, I will make dinner. Days will continue as life goes forward. We will love one another the same if not more than before the session. And every day, we will have learned something more about how to be with each other and how to work as a team. The sorrows and angsts of hard gaming should stay within the game, much like in real life, where the work stuff should stay at work.
For someone like me, all of this is a true challenge. My emotional states switch from happy to sad to murderous and back in minutes, and my mental health was torn to shreds along with my self-esteem, pride, and dignity. I often tend to overcompensate these hurts in my soul by turning into a nasty little wench, and so the moments I spend gaming with my husband often spark this witch in me, giving me plenty of chances to practice Patience, Communication, Acceptance, and most of all, Letting go.
Do you play games with your spouse? Let us know in the comments!
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