…Collaborate?

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” This quotation by Aristotle never feels more real to me than when I am in the theater. Why? Because it is only through an immense amount of teamwork that written words on a page become magical pieces of art that can whisk an audience away from their seats into a world projected on a stage.   Whether you attend a Broadway musical with a cast of hundreds, or a one-man show, the teamwork involved in each production is necessary for each act to go off without a hitch.

This was apparent to me last night as I attended “Works in Progress,” a one-act dramatic reading festival.   The only reason I was attending is because something I had written was being performed and I wanted to see it come to life. The play, titled “Nine Months” was supposed to be comedic farce looking at some of the things that pregnant woman and their significant others go through during the gestation period. However, even at the very beginning of the process I was not the only one involved.

It starts at the beginning. Someone asked me to write a play for this festival. She immediately became the inspiration for the play because she was pregnant at the time and was complaining about something going on in her life. BAM! An idea is born. I thought of other couples and the stories I had heard during their pregnancies. The ideas kept flowing. Thanks to probably 5 or 6 couples and the stories I had heard, I was starting to formulate a story. The original inspiration for the piece helped hone the words. Little did I know that just 6 months later that story would live out on stage.

Last night I entered the atrium to see about a hundred chairs surrounding a small stage. There were two men fixing lights, one woman working on microphone checks and several students, faculty and staff from this small college in Georgia running around putting on the finishing touches before the start of the production. My partner, wife and I were shown our front row seats and away we went. One director, seventeen actors and numerous crew performed 3 one-act plays as dramatic readings. It was amazing to watch.

When it was time for my play I sat with nervous trepidation. What if the actors didn’t meet my expectations? What if the director had changed the play to the point I wouldn’t recognize it? The worst thought? What if the audience didn’t laugh? The horror. I sat. I fidgeted. I waited. Then the narrator spoke…

When it was over I was amazed. These three wonderful college students brought the script to life. Despite constraining rules that didn’t allow them to look at one another, or move anything besides their heads, they made the audience, or at least me, feel like I was looking at a full stage adorned with sets and costumes. I could sense the emotion, and the energy. My nervousness turned to glee and pride as I applauded their performance.

It was after the play, during a question and answer session when I was asked about working with my partner and how that took place that a word came to mind. It’s a word that a dear friend of mine has been using a lot lately, and it certainly applied here. The word is collaboration. Together, my partner and I collaborated on a project and it ended up winning a one-act play writing competition. The director, actors and crew collaborated and performed said play. Even the audience collaborated as they laughed, squirmed and reacted to the words and movements. It was a total collaboration and it is a necessity, not only in the theater, but it life.

That’s right, collaboration is a necessity in all of life. You can’t do anything on your own. You can’t eat unless someone makes the food. You can’t work unless someone pays you for your product or actions. You can’t read unless some one writes the book. Everything in life in some one or another is some kind of collaboration, relying on another human being or group of human beings. I guess you could go to a plot of dirt, lie down and wait to die without another human. But if that’s the exception to the rule, then I still think I am making my point.

Put another way, collaboration is community. It’s the interaction we all have with one another on a daily basis to live life.   The military community is a great example of this. They collaborate to serve this country and protect freedom.   Churches also show this example at times. Done right, they work with their members, with other churches and with community leaders to share resources and resilience with those who could be running short on both.   They show love, when love is in short supply and make our communities stronger than they would otherwise be. Together, the sum is better than the parts.

That is really how it should be. The play is better when the writers, directors, actors and crew can all lend their individual talents to a cohesive production. They may never be in the same room or even meet, but they could still give each other the tools they need to bring their talents to the next level. Collaboration provides that. It gives all of us the opportunity to improve and impress. I think something about Iron sharpening iron fits here.

After the show, I couldn’t stop thinking about the play and how it could be improved. The show was called “Works in Progress” for a reason. Everything can be improved. We can always look back and tweak this or manipulate that. The show last night was great, but in 12 hours I have figured out that it needs at least one more character and should include at least 2 more scenes. Our one-act will soon be a full-length play, but that can’t be true without collaboration, and neither can life.

Who will you collaborate with today?

…find comfort in failure.

The more I look around at the lives of my friends and family, and of the life that I have lived, the more I am beginning to understand that expression “fear of failure” may not be the truest reason why people are resistant to change or to new experiences.  I mean I get it.  I hear excuses all the time.  I make excuses all the time. “If I could be assured of success, then I would go forward. “There are too many obstacles.  It’s not the right time.”  It would be simple to attribute both of these to a fear of failure.  But, are we truly afraid of failing, or is there something else going on.  Some other reason we don’t even try to follow those things we say we have been dying to do.

Let’s examine my life.  I have tried a lot of things looking for that one thing that suits me best.  In college I began as a Theater Performance major, but switched to business in the middle of my sophomore reasons.  I have stood on stage in front of 400 people as a stand-up comic, made them laugh, and then walked away.  I write one or two pages of fiction ideas that constantly pop into my head, but then rarely get any further.  I know that I am not built to hold a 9 to 5 job, yet each time I think of some way I could cultivate a career, I try it for a week or a month, and then let it go.  In my mind it is the fear of failure that stopped me each time.  What if I audition for part after part and never get cast?  What if I step on that stage and nobody laughs?  What if I write something I believe is a masterpiece of American literature, and no one wants to read it, or worse yet, reads it and says it is crap?  To me, each of these things sounds like a fear of failure, but is it…

Here’s another example.  A friend continually talks to me about how much she hates her job.  She is unhappy because they fired her boss.  She is unhappy because she is the only one who knows how to do ten different things and so they all fall to her.  And she is unhappy because all of her friends have seemingly recognized the problems within the particular organization and have since moved on to greener pastures.  After listening to her for about 2 weeks, I told her to quit.  (This probably wasn’t the best answer, but I was kind of tired of hearing her complain.)  She was a myriad of excuses ranging from “where would I go, “ to “I can’t afford it.”  These certainly can be valid, or they could represent fear, or is it something else…

One more.  Woman married for a long time has been verbally and mentally abuse for years.  Her husband drinks heavily, becomes argumentative, and has a host other issues that need not be discussed.  For years, this woman has come to me, and others, telling us about the issues, yet has refused to take action.  She says she want out, wants help, wants change, but after each and every instance there are always reasons why she won’t leave.  The most popular is that she has no confidence in her ability to succeed outside the walls of this relationship.  The fear of failure is apparent here, but is that really what it is…

Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that in each case, mine included, that fear definitely plays a role in our inability to move forward and make significant strides in whatever we want to accomplish.  If asked, I believe each of us would honestly tell you that our lives would be better if we were successful at doing whatever it is we need to do to follow a path that would lead to success and happiness in life.  But, yet, there we sit.  We sit, staring at the computer screen wishing magic would type itself.  We sit, punching the clock for an organization that no longer has our interest or respect.  We sit, waiting for the next time a husband will come through the door ready, willing and able to scream, belittle and berate.  And we all know what we should do; yet we talk ourselves out it for whatever reason.  Is it the fear that makes us stop and remain stagnant?  Or is it something else?

Personally, I believe it is something else.  I believe it goes deeper than just fear.  The fear of failure certainly holds us back, but it is what comes as a result of the fear that is really what is keeping us down.  I do believe we are so afraid to fail that we are afraid to try, but that’s because the comfort of failure is holding us dormant.  We have become so comfortable in our places of failure that we can’t imagine life any other way.

Let me explain using the above examples.

My friend, who desperately wanted to get out of her work situation, was scared to leave because of money, or her lack of ability to work elsewhere.  She was scared to fail at something else because she was comfortable with the money she was making.  She was comfortable with her co-workers.  She was comfortable with knowing that each and every day she was going to get up at the same time, go to work to do the same things, and come home to the same situation.  She didn’t have to think about all the different things that could go wrong if she left.  Despite how awkward it was to work for people she no longer respected, she was comfortable with being uncomfortable.

My life is filled with this idea that the comfort of failure holds me back.  While I try things once or twice, I let the immediate failure put me back on the couch.  That’s certainly comfortable.  When I read a book that is clearly better than anything I have written, I let the failure I feel turn me to the TV.  That’s certainly comfortable.  When I have an idea for anything I think of all that is involved, become frustrated with the seemingly endless tasks and go back to folding laundry or washing dishes.  That is most definitely comfortable.  I am living life in the comfort of failure.  And it becomes so comfortable that I doubt my desire to try any of these things again.

The woman in the abusive marriage is also showing how comfortable failure can be.  Clearly, her marriage is in a state of desperation.  I won’t say that it is over, but I will say that without severe help and change it will continue along the same path that it has been going down for years.  She is at a crossroads.  She can choose to either change the status quo, either by confronting her husband and demanding they seek help, or by leaving and giving him the wake up call he needs.  But, she doesn’t!  Time and time again the excuses flow as to why she can’t get up and go.  “I have no where to go.”  “I won’t be able to get a job.”  “I have no ability to make it on my own.”  Each an every one of these excuses may be valid in some respect, but they all show that in some way, this woman has become comfortable in her discomfort.  For all the complaining and crying she does to try and figure out a way to fix her situation, she, to this point, has done nothing because the comfort of failure has gripped her and held her tight.

All three of us are gripped by the comfort of failure, which has taught us that the status quo is going to make us happier, no matter how unhappy we are.  We seemingly refuse to change because we are so uncomfortable with the idea that we might not succeed, that we hopelessly mire ourselves in the same muck hoping against hope that things will just magically change on their own.  They won’t, and we know that they won’t; yet we won’t budge.  It’s a vicious cycle that plays itself out again and again.

I wish I had a solution.  I mean, usually, this is where I point out some 4-step process that will change the attitude of all of that have this problem.  But, let’s face it, I have been in this state for so long now that even I don’t know exactly how to get out of it.

I already have the encouragement of family and friends to try whatever I want to do.  I already have taken steps to follow some of those dreams more by auditioning for a show and getting a part.  I have already started several more scripts, and other novel ideas.  That isn’t the hard part.  The difficulty is in seeing that long-term determination is failure, not as a complete stopping point, but rather as a stepping-stone to success.

There are hundreds of quotes from successful people that talk about how they aren’t afraid to fail.  Michael Jordon, Bill Gates, and Thomas Edison all iterated how failures are necessary to ultimate success.  Each of these men were determined to stay out of the comfort of failure and instead be uncomfortable in their pursuits.  But perhaps, author J.K Rowling says what I am trying to say much better.

It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might has well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.

I think, that at least in my case, I am living cautiously because it is living comfortably.  The fear of failure has created a comfort in failure because it takes me out of a place where I will even try.

So what do I do…well beside leap into the abyss known as the unknown, I don’t know?  Is that what it takes?  Should I write, act and perform with reckless abandon, knowing that only through persistent hard work will there be success?  Should my friend seek out her passion in order to quit her job in the hopes that whatever path she takes will breed more contentment?  Should the wife take steps toward drastic change that will turn her whole world upside down, but may end up in a future where verbal abuse is not constantly degrading her mental and emotional state?

Perhaps yes, to all of these, but here is the real kicker.  Only I can get myself out of the comfort of failure.  Only my friend can remove herself from the source of her unhappy contentment.  Only the wife can decide to move forward from delightful discontent.   No one can do it for anyone else.  We all have to decide to get uncomfortable and face the fear.  Or we decide to be as happy as we are, even if it makes us severely unhappy in the process.

I don’t think there is a simple solution.  I can say I am going to try and face the fear and get uncomfortable, but how long will that last?  Will I revert to my comfort failing ways?  I guess only time will tell.  Time to go write!

…fail at chores?

The Chore of Doing Chores

I am going to be totally honest with you ladies.  Guys don’t like doing chores.  We don’t like dishes or laundry.  We don’t like dusting or vacuuming.  We don’t like cleaning toilets, whisking the couch, or making the bed.  The best reason I come up with is that it’s tedious work that isn’t exciting to do and doesn’t give us any sense of accomplishment once completed.  It’s boring, and even Mr. Army Wife, who does 90% of the chores in the house, will try to get out of them or take shortcuts if he can.

Women, for the most part, apparently feel very different about chores than men do.  I am not going to say that you enjoy doing them, because let’s face it they aren’t exactly fun.  But, I have seen my wife attack cleaning with such ferociousness that it would make those old TV housewives from the 50s and 60s jealous.  She has her serious set of rubber gloves, her perfect sized cleaner carrying caddy, and her special set of cloths with different sizes and textures perfect for any job.  I don’t wear gloves, use one, maybe two cleaners, and one rag and a few paper towels.  It works and I don’t mess with it.

Their is a real divide between men and women when it comes to the issue of chores, and for the most part, I am sorry to say, the divide is the fault of the ladies.  (Don’t throw the feather duster at me.)  It truly is your issue, because for the most part, who is the one that does the complaining about what is clean and what isn’t?  Who is the one who tells the other they are doing it wrong?  Who is the one that usually gives up trying to get the other to do anything at all and just does it themselves?  The answer is the women.  Men usually don’t complain about the house being a mess (exception – you can’t see the floor.)  Men almost never tell women they are scrubbing the toilet in the wrong way.  And if a man sees a pile of laundry that has been their for a week even though he has expressed that he needs his jeans washed, he certainly isn’t going to do it himself.  Chances are he will just wear them dirty or buy a new pair of jeans.  The problem here clearly lies with the women.

So, I am going to let you in on a little secret.  Here are 5 things you need to know about men’s attitudes toward doing chores.  Do with them what you want, but know that we aren’t going to change simply because you want us too.  We are capable of becoming better house workers, (I am living proof) but it will take specific things to get us there.  Here are the specifics.

  1. We aren’t mind readers.  If you want something done, you need to tell us exactly what it is.  We will do the dishes if you ask us to do the dishes.  We will do laundry if you tell us that the laundry needs to be done.  We might even clean the toilets if you ask us to do so, but we won’t do anything at all unless you look us in the eyes and ask us to do it.  Better yet, write it down, put it directly in our hands, and go away so we have some time to complete it.  IFor thousands of years men have been trying to read the minds of their woman and for years it has bitten us in the ASS!  When it comes to things we really don’t want to do, we are not going to put ourselves out there by trying to read your minds.  Nope, it ain’t gonna happen.
  1. We are going to do it our way.  The insanity with which women believe there is only one correct way to clean the toilet must stop.  Your way is not the only right way, so if you ask your man to do this most disgusting of jobs, and then go ballistic when he goes at it with a bottle of Windex Multisurface and a wash cloth.  Then, once again, I say the problem is yours.  We don’t care about why once cleaner is better than another.  We don’t care that this rag is for wood and this one is for porcelain.  We are going to clean the way that we were either taught in our own homes, or how we taught ourselves when we left home.  If you don’t like it, either learn to let it go or just do it yourself.
  1. Cleanliness is not next to Godliness.  I don’t know who told you that line or where you all got it, but it isn’t in the Bible.  It isn’t in there.  In fact, the only time I saw a woman doing chores was when Martha was telling Jesus to get Mary off her rump to help and Jesus told her to get on hers and start listening to him.  (Luke 10:41, I am paraphrasing obviously.)  While we can probably agree that there needs to be some level of cleaning to run an effective household, men are nowhere near as worried about the level of cleaning as that of their female counterparts.  A few clothes on the floor, a few dishes in the sink and a few spots on the mirror does not constitute and disaster zone.  Yet, some of you think that it does.  There are other things more pressing, seriously.
  1. We don’t care about your special instruction laundry issues.  If you have something that can’t be washed in a certain temperature of water, or can’t be dried with some other type of fabric, or can’t be place within a certain distance of a certain type of detergent, then there are two solutions.  Don’t buy that article of clothing because it has WAY too many issues, or wash it yourself, because we will NEVER get it write.  Men’s clothes have nothing about that are specific as far as laundering goes, and if they do, none of us have read the tag, nor do we care.  Everything can go in together, and we really don’t care what towels do to our underwear.  I have not once lost a pair of socks because they were washed with a red shirt.  If your clothes have to be that special, we aren’t the ones to wash them.  Leave us out of it.
  1. We will do a lot of things to get out of chores.  There used to be a sitcom called Everybody Loves Raymond, in which Raymond, his wife Deborah and their family carried out different situations each week for the entertainment of millions.  In one particular episode one of the men was asked to do something, and Ray told him to do it wrong so that he wouldn’t be asked again.  It turns out that Ray had been doing chores wrong on purpose his whole marriage just so he wouldn’t have to do them anymore.  He had learned that his wife wanted things done a particular way, and he didn’t want to do it that way.  In his mind, it was better for their marriage if she just did it her way herself.  While I don’t condone this behavior, I am not going to say that I haven’t done it.  I have washed dishes with cold water.  I have mixed whites and darks in the laundry.  I used her loofa (what a stupid word) to clean the shower while I was in it.  (I used body wash as the cleaner too.)  This was all before I was Mr. Army Wife and it was my job.  But, if I could think of a way to get out of chores I will.  There ain’t nothing new in that.

So there it is ladies.  If you want to have a man’s perspective on chores, this is it.  If you want us to do them, tell us.  But don’t tell us how to do them.  Our level of clean probably is not your level of clean.  Let it go or do it yourself.  We don’t do special instructions.  And finally, we are going to try and get out of them.  Your best bet is to send us outside to wash the car or mow the yard.

I would like to say one final thing about this subject.  For years I have watched couples and studied the marital dynamic.  I have to say, that the things that ladies allow to become stressful parts of their lives borders on the ridiculous.  I understand that you don’t want to live in squalor, but eventually everything will get done.  When the house runs out of dishes, they will get washed.  When there are no clean clothes, some will get washed.  When the crusty residue from spit up toothpaste covers the sink, it will get cleaned.  I am not going to say who is going to do it (ladies) but are these things really the stressors you want to be putting on your marriage?  There are enough things trying to create a wedge between you and your spouse, this shouldn’t be one of them.

 

From a man’s perspective, a lot of what women make issues out of things that really aren’t issues.  I have an expression.  “You’re problem is not my problem, especially when it really isn’t a problem.”  Certainly, I believe that my wife’s problems are my problems too, but I do not except the premise that just because she believes it is a problem that it actually is.  Sorry, life just doesn’t work that way.  It’s too short to constantly worry about a few plates being left in the sink or a few clothes being thrown on the floor.  Let it go.  Live life.  Clean occasionally.  But don’t let your world and especially your marriage revolve around how you want things done.  You are seriously setting yourself up for disappointment.

 

…play video games so much?

It’s the Controller’s Fault

The question has been asked.  Why do men play video games so much?  The women who asked were in the middle of describing how obsessed their men were with the games.  They were somewhat complaining that their men would rather play the games over spending time with them.  In the end, they just wanted to know, why these games were so important.  But they aren’t asking the right question.  At least I don’t think they are asking the question that they really want to ask.

First, let me answer the original question through my own experiences with video games.  I grew up when home video games started gaining popularity.  I can remember going to my Aunt and Uncle’s house and playing on their Atari system.  I can remember my grandparents buying a Texas Instruments computer with a football game.  I can remember my brother begging for the very first Nintendo Entertainment System complete with the Super Mario Brothers/Duck Hunt combo cartridge.  It was the first video game system my parents allowed in our house.  Finally, we were a part of the technology generation.

Throughout the years I have either had or lived in a house where a video game system has been prevalent.  In one case, I had a roommate who collected them.  We had all the Nintendo Systems, Sega Systems, Atari, Commodore 64, and the latest and greatest, the PlayStation 1.  Each of us had our favorite games, but I can remember playing Crash Bandicoot and Resident Evil for hours upon end.  Personally, I have owned a PlayStation 2, an X-Box, and a Wii.  Plus I have often used my phone, my iPad, and my Computer to play different games.  All of this to say, I know why men play the video games.  But that still isn’t the question these women, and I would say most women; want to know the answer too.

But, I’ll answer the question, since it has been asked.  There are three main reasons why men play video games.  They may not believe or even realize these are the reasons, but in my experience, these are the reasons, so hold on to your hats and lets make our way through these three levels so we can try and win the treasure.

First, men play video games as a means of escape from the reality of their daily routines. 

The life of a military man is complicated.  They have to be gone for long periods of time, away from their families, away from the comforts of home, away from everything that is familiar.  Video games provide an escape into a fictitious world that we can engage with.  Movies, TV and books can give us that escape too, but there’s no interaction.  With video games, we provide the characters with a certain amount of personality.  We control a certain amount of their decisions.  Ultimately, we determine their fate in a way we can’t when we have jobs or lives that require a certain level of obedience.  This can provide us with a great rush, because we know it isn’t real, but it becomes an alternate reality that is more in our own control.

Second, men play video games because we are competitive, goal oriented, and must be challenged.

The one thing I didn’t mention above when I was describing my video game experience is that I SUCK at them.  I am horrible.  I mean awful.  I don’t play two player games ever, because I have no chance to win.  I don’t play fighter games because I am more likely to be target practice than I am to be killing anything.  Nope, I stick to games that are more my speed.  Lego Star Wars is one of my favorites.  I crushed all of the Crash Bandicoot Games.  Probably the hardest series of games I ever got into was the Resident Evil games.  They were a lot of shooting, but they also had puzzles that I thought was fun.

The thing about these games, and the more difficult ones, is that there is always an end goal.  You want to win the war, or stop the latest zombie apocalypse, or capture the opponent’s flag.  There is always a clear-cut objective, and once men start playing the game that objective must be met.  You cannot leave an objective unchallenged.  You have to find a way to win.

Of course, this leads to the video game venting you see from time to time.  Broken controllers are the most common casualties to video game venting.  My roommate once threw a controller through a wall just because the football player got tackled in the open field.  (Something about a spin move that the controller didn’t execute.)  Televisions, game systems and spilled drinks are also common during this time.  With each passing failed attempt at getting past that next level the damage becomes more likely and more threatening.  If he is close to the end of the game and just can’t get through it, watch out.  Ladies, tis better to leave the house and come back to destruction, then be a part of that destruction as it happens.  Men have to be challenged, and they must complete those challenges.  We must achieve the goal.

Third, and the hardest one to admit, men become addicted to video games.

Video game addiction has been proposed as an addition to the list of mental disorders, but was recently rejected for inclusion.  That doesn’t mean it isn’t a real thing.  Some men have been playing video games for so long that they would have an extremely difficult time getting out from under them.  WebMD says that more and more experts are defining this syndrome, which leads me to believe that it something we have to, at the very least, examine.

I have been addicted before, not to video games, but to cigarettes.  I wonder if there is a correlation.  Cigarettes gave me an escape, a way to get out of my life for a couple minutes.  Cigarettes gave me a rush, raised my heart rate and made me more alert, at least for the first few minutes.  Cigarettes controlled my day.  I looked forward to the time when I could get away from my desk and have another one.  I believe there are some similarities.  Video games have the potential to control a man’s emotions, his reactions and his daily activities.  Just ask the women who are asking why they play so much.  That still isn’t the real question.

So what is the real question these women were asking?  What is the question I believe most women are asking when they are trying to determine why their man is sitting staring at a screen for hours on end just so they can win a fake war against the evil alien race of galactic sea slugs?  That’s easy.  It isn’t why is he playing.  It’s how do I make him stop?

I am going to assume that for most of you the issue is not one of complete stoppage.  You don’t expect nor really care if he gives up playing the latest Mario Brothers game cold turkey.  For most of you, the issue is one of getting more of his quality time than the damsel in distress does. You want him to know the secret code that gives him access to your heart better than he knows the secret code that gives him access to the hidden levels on Planet Ziphon (is there a Planet Ziphon?).  You want him to caress your buttons more than he caresses the buttons on the controller.

But how, how can you make this happen?  Hmmmm!  I could say all of the usual things.  I could say that you and he should have serious discussion about what you expect from him when he comes home from work, and how you would appreciate him limiting the amount of time he plays.  I could say that you could give him an ultimatum with time limits (good luck with that.)  I could say that maybe the best thing would be to sell the game system on eBay and use the money for a date night.  While each of these could be valid, I am not going to tell you any of these.  What I am going to say is this, become the video game.

If your goal is for your significant other to spend more time with you, then challenge him to do so.  Give him hints and clues about how you would like that to happen.  Leave him a map of where you are going to be, and then tell him that you expect him to rescue you.  Put together your own story with the expectation that he will be challenged and committed.  If your man is goal oriented, he will have every desire to figure out this game as much as he does the one of the screen.

I am not saying it is going to be a cakewalk.  Video games rarely are.  But most have levels for a reason, and each level is a little more difficult than the one before.  Start out with something easy, something obvious, something you know your man can’t resist.  Each man is different, so I don’t know what your man can’t resist, but I am pretty sure you can figure that out.  Let me just make up some scenarios and see if I am close.

Level 1:  Husband is playing games when you walk out in you sexiest Lingerie and wave your finger for him to follow you.

Level 2: Leave a note on top of the controller telling your husband to look through the house for a special treat before playing.  (you can come up with the treat)

Level 3: Tell your S/O that tonight you will be having a conversation about (insert topic here.)  When he guesses the secret word involved in that conversation you will reward him with the controller.

Level 4:  Give him a dessert recipe and tell him that you would like for him to make this together and that he can eat it off of you later if he makes it right.

Level 5:  Scavenger Hunt.  You can do this around town or just around the house.  Give him a map or a list of items that he is going to need for that evenings activity.

Are some of these cheesy?  Probably, but I am shooting from the hip here.  Only you know what types of things will provide enough stimultion to get your man interested in leaving the game behind.  There is going to have to be a discussion at some point about him understanding that you are more important than the game, but it doesn’t have to be a finger pointing blame game.  It can be a fun game that challenges him and creates goals for him to achieve.

Let me end with this, I think the proper way to say why men play video games is this.  The competition, the goals and the challenges make them feel strong.  It gives them the opportunity to be in control.  Video games don’t talk back, or blame them for their mistakes it just gives them the opportunity to try and try again to make it right.  How do you get them to stop?  Be the same way.  Give them the opportunity to learn from their mistakes and to make it right.  Give them the chance to be the hero in your life even more than they already are.  Reward them for meeting the goals you have for your life together.  Let them see that the video game could never replace the rush and thrill that you can give them. Whether you do that by making your life a game or by just loving on him completely doesn’t matter.

Author Jane McGonigal once wrote, “A game is an opportunity to focus our energy, with relentless optimism, at something we’re good at (or getting better at) and enjoy.”  Shouldn’t our relationships be the same way?  I know that when I look at my wife, I want to be able to focus my energy on her and I.  I want to remain optimistic that we are better together than we could ever be apart.  And I want to continually improve and grow our love and life in the enjoyment we have together.  In fact, there’s only one thing I hope to never see in my relationship that I have seen in a video game, and those are the words, GAME OVER.