long distance relationships

Why Every Couple Should Play Video Games Together

Marcy Kennedy World of WarcraftBy Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

Video and computer games are some of the most underrated relationship-building tools.

My husband and I had a long-distance relationship from the time we met until we got married (and even after we got married as we waited on immigration). Many people wonder how we could possibly know each other well enough to get married if we’d never lived near each other. Alongside long hours spent talking on the phone and webcams and all-too-brief visits, we were also able to learn about each other through playing online games.

Put your skepticism on hold—I’m about to tell you three things you can learn about the person you’re with simply by playing a game together, plus why I think every couple can benefit from it.

Do they know how to share, and will they make sacrifices for you?

In World of Warcraft, the game my husband and I started playing as a long-distance dating couple, bag space is at a premium. You start with one bag (out of a possible five), and you don’t have the money to buy any more. So what? Well, if you don’t have enough bag space, you’ll waste a lot of time running back to a vendor to empty your bags rather than being able to complete all the quests in an area at once. And until you reach level 20 and get riding training and a mount, all travel is slow and on foot.

You also start out broke, with not a single coin in your purse. You have to earn money by completing quests and selling what drops from the monsters you fight. This can make buying new gear, buying bags, or getting the training you need slow at first.

Unless your significant other has a higher-level character and is willing to send your baby toon (a way of saying “low-level character”) four 16-slot bags and 250 gold. They just showed that they value helping you over advancing their own character.

Any game where two players can share items, ammo, money, or information can tell you a lot about the character of the person you’re playing with.

How do you function as a team?

In WoW, you can play cooperatively with someone else by joining a group and going on quests together. (A lot of games have this team element to them, so, again, this point isn’t confined to WoW.)

My husband and I play as a damage-dealer/healer pair. He has to have my back and protect me from mobs that would rip through my flimsy cloth “armor,” and I have to make sure I don’t let his health drop to critical levels. Does the person you’re with watch out for you, or do they run off and let you die?

Other quests and dungeons require a certain amount of strategy. In other words, you need to develop good communication skills if you expect to succeed.

And when you fail, do they blame it all on you? Or do you both accept responsibility and figure out a new plan together?

How patient will your partner be with your shortcomings (or what they consider shortcomings)?

According to my husband, I’m a slow player with limited situational awareness. I locate quests slower, choose my rewards slower, empty my bags slower—you get the idea. It’s a difference in our play styles. I’m living the fantasy and savoring the experience. He just wants to level because he’s already played the content multiple times before.

I also tend to accidentally attract bad guys because I don’t see them. I prefer to play with my view zoomed in closer, while my husband plays with his zoomed out as far as it will go. Neither of us can understand how the other plays the way they do.

So we work to find a compromise between our play styles, we try to be patient, and we continue to play together because the fun we have far outweighs our frustrations.

Have you played video or computer games with your loved one? Is there anything else you would consider an underrated relationship-building tool?

For another great post on the value of gaming in life and relationships, check out Kristen Lamb’s post “Gears of War—Playtime, Obsession, Foundation of a Happy Marriage.”

Image Credit: Jer Wilcocks Photography (That’s my husband and I from our engagement photo shoot in the picture.)

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What Are You Willing to Do For Love?

Love RingThe customs agent accepted the two passports I handed him, but didn’t look at them. Instead, he looked at me.

“I’ve seen you before, haven’t I?”

He had. Three times. On at least two of those times, he’d been the one to search my truck and then come in to chat with me while the other customs agents photocopied my itinerary and I filled in the declaration form. The last time he’d seen me had been four months earlier, before ice clogged the river and prevented the ferry from running.

I gave my best nod and smile. “Yes, sir.”

“Where’re you headed this time?”

“Just to the airport,” I poked a thumb toward my fiancé, who sat in the driver’s seat, “and then back to Canada.”

“She’s dropping me off,” my fiancé said.

We’d hit the point in the conversation where an angry avalanche always took place in my stomach. Would he let us through without trouble? Or would he tell us to pull the truck aside and come in? Living in Canada, less than 40 minutes from the US border, I’d crossed hundreds of times in my life without a problem—until I broke a taboo that I hadn’t known existed and somehow became a flight risk.

My crime? I’d agreed to marry an American.

The first time I tried to cross the border to visit my fiancé after getting engaged, my mom and I spent over 30 minutes inside the customs building. We answered questions about the wedding date, and where Chris and I planned to live.

Then the woman in charge asked, “Do you own any property in Canada?”

“She has a house,” my mom answered.

“Do you live there?” she asked me.

“No, ma’am. I live with my parents.”

“Why don’t you live there?”

“We rent it out.”

“So you don’t own a home.”

Deep breaths.

“She owns a house,” my mom said.

“Then why doesn’t she live in it?”

“Why would she live in it when she can stay with us and rent it out?”

“So she doesn’t own any property?”

My mom and I exchanged a glance.

“I’m sorry,” my mom said. “I don’t think I understand the question.”

On this trip with my fiancé, however, the customs agent returned my smile rather than asking us to pull the truck to the side. “Are you going to cry when you drop him off?”

Naw. I was going to jump for joy because my fiancé was going back to his home, 600 miles away, and I wasn’t going to see him again for a month. I reminded myself that he’s just doing his job. “Probably.”

He let us through without the usual delay. Finally—someone who realized that, if I haven’t made a run for it yet, it’s probably a safe bet I’m not about to. Besides the fact that I’m compulsively law-abiding, we’d lose all the wedding deposits.

I dropped my fiancé off and took the Ambassador Bridge to Windsor, Ontario, anxious to go home.

“How long were you out of Canada?” the border guard asked.

“About three hours.”

“What for?”

“I dropped my fiancé at the airport.”

“Where’s he going?”

“Virginia, sir.”

“What’s he doing there?”

“He lives there.”

“Isn’t that hard?”

I bit the inside of my cheek, and swallowed a giant chunk of sarcasm. A couple months earlier, when a US customs agent noticed an apple beside me, she asked, “What are you going to do with that apple?”

“Umm…eat it?”

Even I’m not paranoid enough to think up malicious ways to use an apple. The best part was that it was a U.S. apple with the sticker still on it. It was simply coming home. It’s a good thing they can’t read minds, though, because if sarcasm was a crime…

After one particularly harrowing border crossing experience, where the customs agent told me long-distance relationships never work and treated me like I was destined for a bad break-up, my maid of honor said, “I don’t know if any guy is worth that hassle. You must really love him.”

She was right. I did, and I still do. And now that my husband and I made it through all the paperwork and almost a year of immigration hoops and are in the same country at last, we can look back and laugh at the crazy things we did for love.

What are some of the crazy things you’ve done for love? Do you regret doing them or did it all work out in the end?

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Image Credit: freeimages.com/jaime101