What Video Games Taught Me About Better Matrimonial Communication

Kevin and I have been co-opping through the entire “Halo” series in preparation for “Halo 4’s” release in November.  Halo has been a foundation of our relationship since the very beginning, circa 2006, when I’d hang out and play “Halo 2” with him and his college roommate.  These days, post-college-classes but pre-mortgages-and-babies, we battle virtual aliens together.  It’s pretty sweet.

Most of the time.

We finished “Halo: Combat Evolved” a couple weeks ago and an interesting incident occurred near the end.

We’d been instructed to blow some stuff up, which required us to fight through hordes of particularly tough enemies and fly alien spacecraft (called Banshees) from checkpoint to checkpoint.

At one point we found ourselves pinned down while several aliens of varying capacity to kill us shot at us.  They had a tank, too.  The Banshees we needed lay to the left; the tank hovered to the right.  We’d been killed multiple times already as we tried to make a run for the Banshees, and it had become clear that we needed an actual strategy as opposed to our usual barging-in-guns-blazing method.

“Okay,” I said.  “Cover me, I’m gonna to take out the tank.”

I plunged into battle, ignoring the aliens shooting at me because Kevin would be taking care of them.  I lobbed a couple of grenades at the tank and looked around wildly for cover, because wow, I was getting shot a lot.

“Where are you?” I yelped.

Then I saw: he’d gone for the Banshees instead.

I died and waited to respawn, and waited, and waited, because now everyone was shooting at Kevin in his Banshee and the game won’t let you respawn if it thinks you’re just going to get killed again.

“I’m covering you!” he said.

“No, you’re not!  You went for the Banshee!”

“So?  I’m covering you from the air!  What did you want me to do?”

Cover me!  Like, stay on the ground where the bad guys are and shoot them so they don’t shoot me!”

“But I am covering you, up here!”

“Well, it didn’t work, because I’m dead!”

Then Kevin blew up the tank, which was my job.  I admit it, I sulked, because hello, kill-stealing, all because he’d changed the definition of “cover.”

And then the little shoulder angel popped up (the shoulder devil was busy swearing like a sailor and button-mashing) and told me I was being silly and hey, we just learned an important lesson in communicating!

I was enjoying my sulk, but Little Shoulder Angel was right, as is usually the case: when you ask someone to do something, be specific, and if you’re not specific, don’t get snippy when they do it “wrong.”  They can’t read your mind.


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