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September 02, 2010

Copyright protected. For reprint permission contact: barbbullington@yahoo.com "After the Break" is available on Amazon.com. (Do a search for After the Break by Barbara Bullington)

While I’ve blocked out most of the fights I had with past boyfriends, I can still remember enough of the overall themes well enough to create a board game: The Relationship Board Game. Comes complete with dice, game player pieces, blue cards, yellow cards, green cards, red cards and a board with squares in matching colors that follow a zigzag pattern from beginning to end. Here’s an example of how a typical game might go: On your first role, you get a three. You land on blue. Blue cards are Fight Cards. You draw a Money Fight card. You and your partner have just had a fight over money. There’s not enough of it and at least one of you feels what money there is isn’t being spent the right way. The fight leads to objects that you can’t afford to break being thrown and broken and someone punching a hole in the wall, which you can’t afford to repair. Take out a loan and pay the banker $240. Next turn, you role a four and land on a red square. You draw a red card. It’s a Make-up Sex card, which is like the get out of jail free card you can use the next time you draw a Fight Card to escape any fight penalties. On your next turn, you roll a three and land on another blue square. You get the Answer a Question with a Question Fight card. According to the instructions, this is one of the worst types of arguments because you get absolutely nowhere. A typical Answer a Question with a Question Fight sounds something along the lines of: You: Honey, don’t you think we need to talk about what’s been happening lately?” Partner: Why, what’s been happening lately? You: Come on. You know we’ve been growing apart. Shouldn’t we talk about it? Partner: I don’t know. Should we? You: Why won’t you let me in? Why do you shut me out like this? Partner: Am I shutting you out? You lose two turns and are so disgusted you don’t even use your Make-Up Sex card. Next time your turn comes, you land on a yellow square, so you take a yellow card. Yellow cards are good. The card tells you that you’ve just received a promotion at work and your partner congratulates you by taking you out to dinner. Things are going well. Take two steps forward. You land on blue. You draw a blue card again. The card says you’ve just had a Projection Fight The instructions define a Projection Fight as one in which your partner isn’t happy with some aspect of their life, such as work, and instead of facing up to what’s really making them unhappy they project their anger onto you. For example: Jim comes home from a hard day at work. You say: How was your day honey? Jim says: How was my day? Boy, that’s just like you to ask—always checking up on me like I don’t do anything all day long. Isn’t it enough that I’ve done more work than anyone else in the company by 10 a.m.? But that’s never enough for you, is it, Boss? Huh, Dan? You’d like to see me take on even more duties, especially more of yours. One of these days, Dan, you’re going to ask me one of your pointed, little questions meant to suggest that I’m not working hard enough and I’m going to take all the clients I’ve brought to this company and head off on my own. What do you think of that, Dan? You say: I was just interested in how you’re doing. And why are you calling me Dan? My name’s Julie. Take three steps back. Your next turn leads to a yellow card. It’s a Commitment Card this time. You and your partner have decided to adopt a pet together. This commitment to something besides each other means you’re planning to stay together, possibly for years to come. It could even be a precursor to parenthood. Take five steps forward (add two additional steps if you both show the added compassion of deciding to adopt from a shelter instead of a breeder.) Next time around, you draw a green card. These can be either bad or good. Sometimes, your partner proposes to you right on the spot and you get to move eight steps ahead. But, you don’t have the same luck this time. Your green card says, “Your partner has decided that he is moving out to start dating someone he met at work. He’s managed to have all his possessions packed up—along with the family heirloom your mother gave you—and is out the door before you can say, ‘It was your idea to move in together’.” Unless you can draw a Rebound Relationship card on your next turn, you are out of the game and must take your game piece off the board. This is just a sample game. There are all kinds of other Fight Cards too, including the One or More of Us Had Too Much To Drink Fight, the Passive Aggressive Behavior Masquerading as A Non Fight But Really A Fight-Fight, the Jealousy Fight, the If You Ask Me One More Time to Engage in a Threesome with Another Woman Even if You Act Like You’re Just Kidding Around I’m Going to Confiscate Your Secret Pornography Stash Because I Know Where It’s Hidden Fight, and so on. The game continues until someone wins by managing to be the last one on the board who hasn’t been eliminated through a breakup or makes it to the end of the board. Or, until you or one of your friends douses the board with gasoline, ignites it and throws it in disgust from the third story floor of your apartment, suggesting that you all stop wasting your time playing board games and get drunk (or binge on ice cream) instead.