What Modern Marriages Could Learn from Master Chief and Cortana

Once upon a time, a man and woman met and started dating.  It was nothing less than bliss.  After feeling their hearts jump in glee at the sight of each other for several months, they decided to take the next step and a few more months down the road they were married.  But now it’s been a year and they don’t feel bliss or hearts jumping anymore.  Now this person they’re married to has faults and issues, and they want out.

Master Chief and Cortana by MikkeSWE
Courtesy of MikkeSWE on deviantART

This probably sounds very familiar, as divorce is rampant in our society.  There are many psychological and sociological reasons behind this phenomenon, such as how modern entertainment, media, and the consumer market create products that continually push the limits on human focus and create in us shorter and shorter attention spans.  However, I’m not here to explain the factors leading to divorce.  I’m here to explain how one of the most-loved video games of all time could benefit the one you most love.

When Bungie created the Halo universe, they obviously paid close attention to developing the relationship between Master Chief and the AI Cortana.  Their relationship is so close that gamers have speculated as to its true nature; are Master Chief and Cortana somehow in love, or are they just an incredible team? Fans have even made art of, well, a sexual nature between the Spartan and AI.  Despite that impossibility, the relationship of these two characters exudes beneficial principles that we regular humans would do well to apply to our own real-life marriages.

First of all, I’d dare anyone to challenge the trust between Master Chief and Cortana.  She gives him directions on where to go and what needs to get done, and he rarely questions her.  When he does question her, it’s usually because he is not able to comprehend everything her computer brain has access to and can process, like when she told him to go stop Captain Keyes in Halo: Combat Evolved.

Ultimately, though when Lord Hood questions if Master Chief trusts in Cortana in Halo 3, Chief responds definitively, “Sir. Yes, sir.”  No hesitation whatsoever.  Trust is a difficult feature to develop in a relationship, but the only thing that ever helps it is more trust, never doubts.  I can only recall one instance of doubt between Chief and Cortana, and that’s where she expresses her surprise at him coming back to save her from the tortures of the Gravemind.

Speaking of Cortana’s torture, this situation presented a more particular angle of the duo’s relationship that we could apply to our marriages today, and that is the virtues of dedication and loyalty.  Master Chief could have left Cortana behind entirely, letting her rot away her final years as a digital being at the whims of the Gravemind.  However, he explicitly made a promise to her that he would find her, and he followed through on that promise:

Remember those wedding vows you took?  Now think about seriously holding to them like Master Chief did when he kept his promise to Cortana, risking his life to save her.

Finally, notice that Cortana warns of her brokenness after being tortured by the Gravemind.  She says, “So much of me is wrong – out of place.  It may be too late.”  Her mental issues (or broken coding?) don’t put off Master Chief in the slightest.  Instead, he says, “You know me.”  He again demonstrates his willingness to stay by her side and help her no matter what state of mind and body she is in.  How many divorces in this world could be diverted if we were just as willing to overlook the faults of our spouses, or aid them in getting past these faults as much as possible to become better people, and ultimately, a better couple?  All of us are broken in some way or another, and if we stopped expecting perfection, maybe we’d see more of the support shown by Master Chief to Cortana in our marriages, as well.

I’m sure that you could pull more positive examples from this Spartan and his AI the more you dig into their interactions.  Despite their relationship in the video games being on a more platonic level than a marriage calls for, this does not mean they do not give us a wonderful example to follow in the areas they succeed in, such as trust, loyalty, and support.  Maybe if we followed Master Chief and Cortana’s principles, we’d see a lot more couples stay together for far longer than Halo games have been in existence.

Cortana in Master Chief's hand

2 thoughts on “What Modern Marriages Could Learn from Master Chief and Cortana”

  1. Bree, congratulations on a great article, it’s the best I’ve read concerning the relationship between Master Chief and Cortana and really made me think.


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