“Do you think that you’re paying enough attention to Andrew?”
The question about my husband came from the unlikeliest of sources. I had turned on my television and Wii Fit game console for a few minutes of balance games, coordination exercises, and yoga stretches. Like many days, I was prompted to take a “body test” to measure BMI, coordination, and the like. Today, however, the Wii Fit avatar took a different approach.
“I haven’t seen Andrew lately,” the Wii Fit said. “How has his posture been?” I was given four options for my answer: Better than before, Worse than before, No Change, or I don’t know. I thought for a moment, considering Andy’s posture and carriage through the years. No change, I selected. I pressed the key to go to the following screen.
No change, the Wii registered, then the accusation. “Do you think that you’re paying enough attention to Andrew?”
“What?!?” I squawked at the game. “You’re supposed to be a virtual personal trainer, not a couples’ therapist.”
Indignant, I took a photo of the screen with my cell phone and sent it to Andy (I believe I typed ‘WTF’ as the caption). I then went through the rest of my workout in a huff.
I’ve saved the picture on my phone and have delighted in showing it to friends and family. Most react with equal parts laughter and disbelief.
“Who do you think wrote such a program?” my friend Kerrie ponders one afternoon over coffee, after looking at the photo. “Why would a question like that even come up in a fitness video game? Maybe the programmer has relationship issues.”
That may very well be true. But a funny thing happened, almost subconsciously, since I got the pixellated reprimand from my video game. I’ve started paying a little more attention, at least to our health and fitness habits as a couple.
“Let’s make steak this weekend,” Andy suggests, and when I don’t enthusiastically reply right away, he asks what’s up. I note that we’ve already had red meat twice this week. Do we want to have it again, or is that a little indulgent? Will the Wii Fit take notice of our weight gain, and yell at me again?
Or there’s the reminder card from our dentist; we’re a few months overdue for a cleaning. Instead of ignoring it again, I tack it up on the fridge. “We should definitely make an appointment this month,” I say. “When are you free?”
And it’s funny—with this introspection, I’ve found that that I often feel closest to Andy when we’re attempting some fitness-related endeavor together. Thursday evenings have become gym-date nights, when we meet at the gym after work for our respective workouts and then go home and cook dinner together. (Or, for full disclosure, get takeout.) In our twelve years together, we’ve discovered a mutual love of hiking, a pursuit neither of us tried in our single days, and have tackled trails throughout New England, Nova Scotia, Colorado, the West Coast, and even Iceland and Australia. There’s something immensely satisfying about challenging your physical limits and seeing your partner do the same, and the shared experience of toughing something out, as a united front, naturally results in greater intimacy.
I read recently that the weight-loss show The Biggest Loser actually has the best success rate of lasting relationships resulting from a reality TV program (much more so than any of the actual dating/romance reality shows), and it makes a lot of sense—the contestants are each committed to personal improvement, healthy lifestyles, and fitness goals, and can encourage each other along the way. Sounds like an ideal recipe for good partnerships to me.
As for the Wii Fit and its pesky questions, I don’t know if I’ll ever be so detail-oriented as to notice posture—and its improvement or deterioration—over time. But strangely enough, a mechanical reminder to be cognizant of one’s partner’s overall health isn’t necessarily misguided or inappropriate, even if the source itself does take some getting used to.
Thankfully, whoever designed the Wii Fit program perhaps intuitively knew not to overdo it. I recently logged on for an exercise session and went through the start-up prompts.
“Good evening!” the Wii Fit said. “I haven’t seen Andrew around lately…”
I hesitated, wondering what irreverent comment was coming next. I took a deep, relaxing breath, then proceeded to the next screen.
“Let’s work on improving your balance!” the machine said.
“Yes, let’s,” I said to the screen, and proceeded to do just that.
This story originally appeared on DivineCaroline.com.
Photo courtesy M dela Merced via Flickr Creative Commons.