Is Your Husband Spending too Much Time Playing Video Games?

by | Jan 23, 2019 | Family, Life, Marriage, Resolving Conflict | 29 comments

Video Game Addiction and Marriage

Are video games stealing your husband–and your marriage?

One of the things I really wanted to talk about this January, as we start a new year, is how the habits we have can stop us from living a big life. I shared this picture of a poinsettia that I saw in Costa Rica last month. It’s huge. It’s vibrant. All because it has the right conditions to flourish.

Living life to the fullest--what a poinsetta plant should look like

But many of us are living much smaller lives because we’re letting things steal our time and energy. And one of the biggest causes of that can be video game addiction.

I thought that rather than write this post myself, I’d ask my son-in-law Connor to write it. Connor’s been dealing with finding a healthy balance with video games as he reached adulthood, and it’s something that many of his friends face, too. Tomorrow on our podcast he and Rebecca (his wife; my daughter) will be sharing his personal story and how they dealt with it in their marriage, but here are his thoughts about why video games can be so alluring, how to know when it’s become a problem, and what to do if it has.

Here’s Connor:

There was a time when video games were for kids, just as nerf guns, comic books, and Lego were.

But those kids grew up. Now we have college students engaging in nerf wars, 30-year old comic enthusiasts still growing their collections, and savvy traders making more profit than gold-investors by buying and selling limited edition Lego sets. I myself got a small Lego set at a gift-exchange this Christmas, and within 20 minutes of getting home, it was assembled and proudly displayed on my work desk.

The video game industry in particular has done an excellent job of evolving over time to keep its audience engaged even as that audience aged and matured, becoming professionals, spouses, and parents.

I am a husband, and have loved playing good video games since I was 12, but life changed as I grew up. As a kid, playing video games for 6 hours straight every day was a big no-no because there were other things I COULD be doing. Now as an adult with more freedom and responsibility, it’s an ever bigger no-no because there are other things I SHOULD be doing. Nevertheless, I have seen plenty of cases of grown men neglecting important elements of their lives and marriages thanks to excessive video game use.

So how can you tell when your husband is gaming too much, and what can we do about it? Allow me to share some thoughts.

I want to start by asserting that video games are not inherently unhealthy in moderation.

They are designed to be fun and enjoyable, and can be an excellent way to recover some mental and emotional energy after a long day. There are some games out there that contain objectionable content and promote harmful messages, but they are in the minority and can generally be recognized from a distance.

Modern psychological research is also pointing to a number of surprising benefits of playing video games. Just like knitting, piano, soccer, and other hobbies, it develops certain mental and physical skills and capabilities.

But video games don’t do it all.

Not even close, really. Aside from providing fun, building visual-attentive skills, and making you a better laparoscopic surgeon, they don’t actively contribute much to your life.

Making money, staying healthy, getting involved in your community, and nurturing important relationships (especially with your spouse and with God) are all things that require time out of your schedule. It’s one thing to fit video games into gaps in that schedule. It’s another to clear your calendar so you can dedicate more time to gaming.

Tune in to the Bare Marriage podcast tomorrow to hear Connor and Rebecca talk about their journey with video games! Listen to it wherever you find your podcasts!

How do you know if your husband’s gaming is a problem?

There is no official diagnosis of video game addiction. You can’t open up a psychology book, go through a checklist, and then tell your husband he is officially addicted (Actually, you can’t do that for ANY disorder without a license, but you get my point). Instead, you should focus on two criteria.

Firstly, if the amount that your husband plays games is directly having a negative impact on his quality of life, or the quality of your marriage, there is a problem. This includes health, finances, job performance, and emotional state.

Secondly, (and this one often goes overlooked) if your husband wants to stop or cut back, but finds himself unable to, there is a problem. I strongly believe that this applies to a lot more than just video games. When a person no longer wants to do something but continues to do it of their own volition over and over again, that behaviour has an unhealthy hold over their heart.

So what do you do about a husband playing video games too much?

Many of you may have a husband who is perfectly capable of putting aside video games when there is something else he knows he should be doing. The problem is that he doesn’t think of what else he should be doing. This is the husband who doesn’t see the dishes piling up on the counter. The husband who doesn’t notice the kids are hyper and could use a walk to the park. The husband who has been meaning to make a doctor’s appointment for a month, but only remembers when he is too busy to make the call.

If this sounds like your husband, you don’t necessarily have a lazy man on your hands. Just one who isn’t very conscientious. What’s the solution? Clear expectations.

Lay out ahead of time what you need from him. Ask if he can shovel the driveway at some point before you need to leave. Remind him about that call to his parents he should make. Let him know you would like to spend an hour or so with him before bed, etc. And if there are no more expectations of him after he gets x, y, and z done, let him know that too! When he can see all of the pieces of the rest of his day, he can make the decision of how they fit together. He can accomplish what is required and game without guilt.

Remember though, you are neither his secretary nor his mother.

It is not your responsibility to plan out his whole day every day for him. As part of the process of laying out expectations, there can be a conversation about things that he is expected to be responsible for. For example, you might agree that if one of you cooks dinner, the other one does the dishes and puts away the food once dinner is finished. Maybe he is responsible for reading the kids their bedtime story. Maybe he plans out at least half an hour of time spent together each day. Chances are, neither of you want you to have to micromanage your husband’s life, so a little structure can go a long way.

For more tips on splitting up household chores, check out these posts:

What about when the problem is more extreme?

What if you can’t tear your husband away from the screen? What if he is playing games with disturbing, sexual content? What if games are winding him up, making him agitated, or even sending him into depression? What if important areas of his life are being willfully neglected? What if YOU are being neglected? You need to make sure he is aware of how his obsessive gaming is harming his life, and how it is harming you. If he is neglecting the family’s needs in order to partially satisfy his own through gaming, that is being selfish. Plain and simple.

This is not a fun conversation to have, but we have some posts that can help you:

Find out why he plays games. Figure out what can replace them

People who play games excessively are generally using games to satisfy some need in their life that they feel is unmet. If you can figure out what this need is, you can work with him to find a more fulfilling and satisfying activity.

If he plays a lot of online games and first person shooters he might be craving that feeling of developing and demonstrating his skill over other people. It could also be the social aspect, or even a blend of the two.

If he likes role-playing games, or games that are heavily number and stat based, he probably likes being able to see clear and quantifiable improvement in what he does.

Maybe he likes large open world games for the feeling of exploration and wonder, or maybe he likes story-focused games for the engaging narrative.

As you can see, there are a lot of different reasons someone could get hooked on video games, and that knowledge is a tool you can use. You can connect him with friends who are interested in doing non-video-game activities together. You can look for more constructive activities and creative outlets to satisfy the unmet need he is chasing. Possibly something you can do together. Maybe you try traveling more, or even just getting out for a hike now and then.

Games are designed from the ground up with the help of psychologists to be as rewarding and motivating as possible. So if you want to free someone who is obsessed with of video games, you need to make motivation work for you.

If that’s not enough…

If he is completely resistant to giving up or cutting back on video games, or he is open to the idea but can’t seem to break away, it may be time to get help.

We can’t always solve all of our problems by ourselves. It is okay to seek support and guidance from your community, and from licensed counselors. If an obsession with video games, or any other habit, is disrupting your life and your marriage, please do not be afraid to look for professional counseling. Your problem is not too small. Your pain is not too trivial. God wants something greater for both you and your husband, so you owe it to yourselves and God to work at it.

Tune in tomorrow to the Bare Marriage podcast when Rebecca and Connor share in the Millennial Marriage segment about their personal story with finding balance with video games!

When Your Husband Plays Video Games Too Much: How to find balance

Have video games been an issue in your marriage? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Sheila Wray Gregoire


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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. L

    This post was helpful for me to gain understanding and graciousness towards those who are really drawn to video games.
    I’ve been judgy towards people who are heavily invested in them because I never took the time to try to understand the ‘why’.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, when I started talking to Connor about it, I really got a new perspective as well!

    • Michelle

      This doesn’t have to do with video games but the title yesterday saying Connor has been working for the blog since September. It said your oldest’s daughter son in law. lol I knew you meant your son in law but it sounds like Rebecca is a lot older than what she is.

      Since September, my eldest daughter’s son-in-law has been working for the blog, and this week he spoke in Wednesday’s blog post, and Thursday’s podcast about video games.
      Since he has been with us for almost half a year, let’s hear a bit from him!

  2. Joleen

    What a great post! I understand how video games can become addictive my husband and I had several instances throughout our marriage where they took precedence over other things on the weekends. But as time went on and kids came, the friends that we use to spend all weekend long playing games with at our house too moved on to being married and having children. To put it simply most of the group that we hung out with have grown up and put our efforts towards our families and homes. Out of that group of friends we have one we no longer have contact with unless on the rare occasion we log into an online game, his parents cater to him and he has so many health issues due to just not going out of the house to truly explore and live. It breaks my heart in his case and in cases where I see mom post on Facebook the kindergartener reading their first book to the family and dad is sitting right next to her playing a game and seems to not be paying attention to her. Video games have a time and a place but real life comes before virtual, this is something we are really trying to teach our children. My 8 year old son has terrible withdrawals if he can’t play at least an hour everyday; it’s awful but teaching boundaries is part of being a parent.

  3. Lydia purple

    I think it is only a matter of time until video game addiction will be fully recognized as an official mental disorder just like other addictions. There are already some doctors who recognized the similarities between other addictions and patients with video game addiction. In some countries there are already treatment centers solely dedicated to this. More and more studies keep coming up showing the similarities in brain changes between video game addiction and substance abuse.

    Games being rewarding , like mentioned above above means they trigger the release of dopamine and in some cases adrenaline and dopamine (the most addicting combination).

    Also there is a host of other mental health issues related to excessive gaming… in some cases it can trigger a psychosis and symptoms similar to schizophrenia. There is also game transfer phenomenon where the line between reality and game blends.

    Now i don‘t want to condemn all video games. I just wanted to bring awareness that in some instances excessive gaming is more serious then just a bad habit. Of course there are other factors involved just as with any other addiction, but just because the medical world has not yet come to conclusion about the diagnosis doesn‘t mean it doesn‘t exist. I also think we are just at the beginning of a mental health crisis. We did not grow up with cell phones and IPads handed to us practically at birth, so we shall yet see the outcomes here.

    I recommend the book „glow kids“ especially for parents wondering how to navigate screens with their kids.

    • Connor Lindenbach

      You make a good point, Lydia. There is general exploration in psychology currently about the idea of psychological addiction and physical addiction. Physical addiction generally refers to substances that provide the brain altering chemicals themselves, while psychological addiction addresses addictive habits formed by the brain’s own reward pathways. You can see “addictive” behaviours form around any activity that triggers the production of dopamine or other reinforcement-related neurotransmitters, including video-games, gambling, sex, and even pain for some people.

      I don’t talk about addiction in the post , because self-diagnosing doesn’t typically lend itself to improvement. Labelling one’s self or spouse with a video-game addiction can serve as an excuse or discourage putting in meaningful effort to solve the problem. I truly believe most people can work through bad gaming habits within their marriage.

      I do agree though, that sometimes professional help is called for. In those cases, I encourage people to seek licensed counselors or therapists, as I believe one should with any persistent and problematic behaviour that is resistant to their best efforts.

  4. Natalie

    My comment on yesterday’s post was probably more aptly suited for today’s. My husband loves to game too, though he’s actually not as obsessed with that (at least not anymore) as he is with anime and manga. Screen time is a BIG deal for him! I don’t think I actually realised how much entertainment screen time he logs daily until we got married and lived together. Not only does he work an office job sitting behind his computer all day, but he also eats dinner when he gets home and simultaneously plays a video game on one screen and watches anime on another screen while he’s eating dinner and until he goes to bed most nights. At least he’s good about bathing our son and reading him a story before I rock him to sleep. But unless I say “hey let’s have sex” and he’s in the mood (which is usually 1-2x/week a most, usually once every 7-10 days is he actually in the mood and not just humouring me), he would easily stay in our home office playing and watching a show all night behind his two screens. Thankfully, he does still sometimes do stuff around the house on the weekends and he’s a good helper with the baby and cleaning up dishes (a stark contrast to the fit he used to throw about doing the dishes even just a year ago). But that 4-5 hours daily that he’s entertaining himself with screens could easily be divided up differently: perhaps 1-2 hours at the gym after work, 2 hours of screen time, and 1 hour with me each day before he goes to bed. That’s what I’ve suggested, and he knows he needs to do that. But when the tire actually meets the road, he has no self-motivation or willpower or whatever it is to actually make that happen. That’s the most frustrating thing for me as his spouse. Like Connor said, I’m not his mother (though I feel like it SO often!) He’s an adult and needs to start acting like it. I just don’t know how much more I can do concerning this topic. It’s not like I can force him to change.

    • Natalie

      And also, shockingly, he’s an excellent employee at his job, consistently gets top marks/reviews from his supervisors and coworkers, and is rising the ranks quickly. I don’t understand how a man who’s so motivated at work can’t also find some motivation to contribute to other parts of his life, like his weight, especially when he’s 125+ lbs overweight. He knows that people who are fit and don’t physically appear to be slobs get more promotions in the business world. He knows losing the weight will improve his health and give him lore energy for so many things in life that he wants to do (with me, with our kids, more energy for sex, more energy to finish fixing up our house since he refuses to hire someone for a job he can do himself, etc). It’s just so frustrating!! I’ve decided only prayer and God can solve this. But even God can’t change someone who’s stubborn and refuses to budge… that whole pesky free will thing. I’m just trusting that God will change my husband’s heart and mindset hopefully sooner rather than later before it’s too late from a health perspective or before too much more of the prime of his life has passed him by.

      • Ashley

        I am divorced now, but what you discribed sounds so much like my ex. He would be on the computer gaming for hours. If we went out to dinner, his phone would be out with another game. He had 2 computer screens, and sometimes he would have a game on one, a YouTube video on another, and a second game on his phone. I wonder about drawing boundaries in situations like this, but I don’t know what the appropriate boundaries would be!

        • Natalie

          Me neither! We’ve discussed it before many times and he knows I hate him playing video games and watching anime. (Especially the anime. I just find it so childish. I mean, it’s geared towards 8-17 year olds! Despite the lewd depictions of women). I’ve told him I’d be fine if he played video games for an hour each day, maybe two if he has nothing else to do, but I really want the anime to go permanently and he needs to cut back on computer time in general in favour of more active things. Thankfully mine doesn’t watch screens when we go out for dinner… not yet at least! But he doesn’t accept those boundaries I’ve requested, and all I can do is request. It’s not like I can toss out his computer. I’m his wife, not his mother. Plus, he uses his computer to run a small tech repair business in his spare time for our family members and friends of theirs who have businesses (what little spare time he has).

          • Kacey

            In defense of anime–I’m not a huge fan, but the one anime show I’ve watched all the way through is one of my all-time favorites. There are quality stories told through anime out there. The style can seem childish, but it’s really a different culture’s storytelling, so to appreciate it, you have to understand some of the overexaggeration, drawing styles, etc. are part of the convention and signify particular meanings, just like with any other medium.

            I would ask him about what aspects he enjoys–like the art, the fantasy storylines, epic heroism, strong character arcs… they’re there, if you’re looking in the places and know how to look. It may be worth trying to understand it better.

            This isn’t to say that your husband doesn’t have a problem, or may not watch poor quality/inappropriate shows, but there are storylines/aspects of anime an adult can enjoy, just like an adult can still enjoy a quality movie or book geared toward children.

          • Natalie

            From my experience with anime, let’s just say I don’t know why Covenant Eyes didn’t pick up on what my husband was watching. It wasn’t hentai but it was way too graphic for me to be comfortable with my husband watching that for 4-5 hours daily. I find that hard to explain away by saying it’s another culture and to appreciate it. If he weren’t so morbidly obese, I may be more lenient in my feelings. But as it is, he has SO many other ways he could spend his time more constructively. Speaking of reading like you mentioned with tour husband, my husband will literally not really anythjng if it’s not something for work or manga. He only opens the Bible in church on Sundays and often forgets to take it to men’s group since they have the verses they’ll be discussing printed out. He hasn’t read the many devotionals I’ve given to him over the years. He hasn’t read the different health books I’ve recommended to him. Maybe if they were in manga form he would. He seems to be uninterested in normal reading formats that adults read.

          • Amanda

            My husband and I have been together for 10 years, married for 8. He has always enjoyed video games and over the years he’s gone through several phases of struggling to find balance. He’s recently come to the conclusion that he enjoys them and he’s not getting rid of them. I don’t need for him to get rid of them, I need him to moderate them better. We have been struggling financially for a while and he very energetically talks to everyone about the big life he wants to have/create. But at the end of the day we are no better off bc he won’t put in the effort. We have gotten to a point where if he’s not sleeping, he’s playing and he misses sleep to play. All the responsibilities fall on me, the house cleaning, yard work, cooking etc is all mine. If we are in the car going somewhere he’s dividing his attention with a game, we watch anime together and hes simultaneously playing then too. Today he was supposed to go run errands, but some unexpected opportunity came up on his game so he decided not to go even though this is our only day off and it will all be late by the next one. I can’t say anything about his gaming bc he gets defensive, but I’m tired of doing all the work and having to share him with an online Guild. Any suggestions?

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Amanda, I’m so sorry, and that sounds very dysfunctional. If he is spending all of his time and energy on games, neglecting the relationship and even the duties, then you do not have a relationship or a marriage.

            And it’s okay to admit that to him and to start setting some boundaries. I would see a counselor and get a support system around you, and then tell him that you will no longer act like you’re married when he is acting like you are not. I don’t know what that will look like for you, and you will need your support system around you and your counselor to help you decide what you want, but I will tell you that things won’t get better until he feels the need for change, and right now he does not. So you have to decide if you are willing to live with this. If you are not, then it may be time to set some firm boundaries, just as you would with an alcoholic or a drug addict. Again, I’m so sorry.

      • Kimberly

        Wow. Sometimes as a wife u think u are alone in this but I see others go through it too. My husband is always on Xbox. Except when he is at work. I tell I know he enjoys it and I don’t want him to stop but when he gets home at 4 and plays till he falls asleep on the couch every night. (And all weekend) He may stop and eat the dinner I make and then he is back at it. (he helps sometimes). We have been married almost 7 years and now he tells me he doesn’t want children. We agreed when we got married we would wait 5 years. But now I’m 30. And don’t want to wait anymore and I fear it’s his love of video games. That makes him not want children now. He does stop and help me clean up. Here and there. I work 50 hrs a week he doesn’t so. His job is very active he is a PE teacher. I know he loves kids. But he says he doesn’t want to come home to any he has enough to deal with at work. he just loves his games. And forget about sex. I beg all the time and am lucky for 2 Twice a month I am not his mother…. so what can I do. We are open and talk about everything but it doesn’t matter he does what he wants.

  5. Kacey

    My husband spends several hours a day with a few particular games. He can pretty much play all day, if he doesn’t have something else more important. But that’s the thing–when there’s something important for him to do, or when I ask him to do something, it gets done in time. He’s a student right now, and he’s not shirking his classwork for games. He’s also affectionate to me, and good at helping when I have problems. I still wish gaming wasn’t his go-to free time activity.

    He gamed a lot the last few years because in his old job, he wasn’t getting a lot of intellectual stimulation. He’s also a major introvert, and it was a retreat for him when he’d had too much of people in a day. He plays team games with his college friends, who are great guys. He likes to tell me about how games went, new mechanics, etc, and he cares that I listen. I would say he has a pretty good balance, except I wish he’d take the initiative to do more and better things with his life some of the time. (I don’t mind the idea of games in moderation.) He doesn’t read as much any more. I’m afraid of this persisting even when we have kids.

    This is one of the few things we’ve fought about, though I’m trying not to harp on it, since he’s so good in other areas. I don’t think it’s currently harming our marriage, really, but I feel like we could be growing more.

  6. Kate

    Man, I have an addiction and it’s called, watching documentaries. I have seen thousands of them, i search high and low for new ones. Although i’m single and can get away with it, i could still be doing other things, like volunteering, instead of sitting on my butt and watching documentary after documentary. I knew it was an addiction when i went broke one time for spending all my money watching documentaries at IMAX. I was literally left eating rice and salsa for a month! I have done some illegal activities on the internet to watch documentaries without paying for it too. That’s when i said, i need major self control. Praise God, i was able to overcome it. I still watch it a lot but it doesn’t consume me anymore. I control it, it doesn’t control me. Where there is a will there is a way. With Christ we can do all things. So if someone genuinely needs help it’s available. It’s just a matter of, do you really want to change?

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      It is! Thank you, Kate.

    • Katie/unmowngrass

      I can relate to this. Not exactly the same thing, but I have described it as “hoarding information”. Whether it’s books, TV shows, blogs, youtube channels/videos, even recipes, anything.

      There’s a big fear that I have to get ALL of it. The idea that there are recipes in the world that I’ll never cook, books I’ll never read, shows I’ll never see, etc, makes me panicky. And it seems to be getting worse. And I’m putting probably 3-4x as much time into the acquiring than I am into the consuming of the stuff I already have backed up. I think I need help (but letting go also seems so so scary because I don’t know how I’ll cope…). Pray for me?

  7. Flo

    My husband is a programmer, so all of his work hours are spent at the computer. Because of that he sometimes has red eyes, stiff neck, back pains, wrists feeling weird. We have discussed that it doesn’t make sense, and it doesn’t seem healthy or mature, rest and leisure time to also be in front of a screen. There is so much more to life, no need for everything to be virtual. He used to play video games before we got married, but fortunately it wasn’t a very deeply rooted habit or addiction. Later Youtube became a bit of a problem, but for short. Books, board games and outdoors activities stimulate the imagination and enrich in ways in which visual media does not.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Totally agree! I think board games and getting outdoors are two of the best things we can do.

  8. Greg

    Why is it always the HUSBAND that gets it — my wife spends HOURS playing video games and has 0 interest in sex — I’m just here to say it goes BOTH ways

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      It does, Greg. Thanks for bringing that up!

  9. Jane

    Hello. I have been in relationship and marriage with a gaming addict for 19 years now. We have 2 beautiful children. All I want to say is it hurts when someone spends so much time with screens instead of with their family and living actual real life. We are Christians, so God and His help is always at hand, but it’s a massive struggle and sometimes I’ve doubted we would even stay together, much less have a family. God is so good. But let me tell you, all the countless hours, days, years spent watching an addict and never knowing how to ‘help’ is so defeating and so soul destroying. I go from being numb about it to being raging mad and it still doesn’t help. Please God help us, because life is meant to be lived ‘real’. And I so want the real authentic life, not some fake screen life that steals everything from you.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Jane, that’s so sad! What a waste of a life–missing out on you and your kids. That’s awful.

      I’d just encourage you to think about whether you’re enabling him to shirk his responsibilities or not. It’s okay to set up boundaries and say, “we will no longer tolerate you playing video games when family things need to be taken care of.” That’s okay! But yelling won’t work, and being nice won’t work. Changing how you respond to his video games is the only thing that may work, and causing him to reap what he sows can help him see the need to change. I talk more about this in 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage, and I hope it helps you!

  10. Ennis

    This article pretty much implies that the writer does not know the extent of how detramental video games can be to a marriage. It is quickly becoming one of the leading causes of divorce in America today. It is now a listed as an official mental health illness. It is very serious. Ex gamers of games like World of Warcraft have been interviewed saying that it is much more addictive than even heroine. This article makes way too light of the problem. If your husband is indeed addicted to video games, simply limiting his time will not take care of the issue. It is like an alcohol addiction.. He will need to put it away and try not to touch it again.

  11. Sarah

    My husband has a huge gaming problem. We didn’t live together before marriage. But when we started to living together after marriage, I realized how much time he dedicated to games. He calls it a “hobby” and says it’s what he does to “relax”. When I tell him that he could spend time with me or our 9 month old daughter he says I’m too demanding and i require too much. We’ve been married for 3 years now and when our daughter was 6 months old, I had to tell him he couldn’t play in our house anymore because he would rush feeding the baby or putting on a diaper to get back to his game before it started. To me that was COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE. He took his x-box to his parents house (2 hrs away) instead of tossing it. For 3 months he didn’t have his x-box, but every day he watched live streams of other people on YouTube or Twitch playing the game. Sometimes 9 hours a day (yes… with a new baby). It was disgusting to me how he could waste away his life. He eventually just resented me to the point where he would get so frustrated he would leave every two weeks to stay with his parents for a week where he could game. His parents enabled the behavior becuase he would tell them how controlling I am by not allowing him to game. Additionally there was no boundaries between his mother and our married in terms of what he shares with her. He’s 35 years old and is a fully functioning normal-seeming professional. As a Christian wife, I didn’t know what to do…. I didn’t have grounds for divorce nor did I want to put my daughter through that, but I also did not want my daughter to get used to a dad who sits in front of a screen all day vs paying attention to her. And I don’t want her to have a dad who leaves every two weeks to game. He doesn’t think he has a problem for counsel.. basically the problem is me for being too “controlling” and “high maintenance”. He won’t divorce me because I do think deep down he has conviction. So i feel stuck and I feel so bad for our daughter. He only plays one game. And he’s been playing that same game for 7 years. I’ve allowed him to bring the Xbox back just a few days ago because he was becoming so depressed he stopped working out (which he did 6 days a week) and didn’t really offer to help with the baby. So he’s now able to game but he has to help out and he can’t cut out time short or rush things to get online to play. So far he’s gamed every day for 3 hours a day and he’s managed to do all the things I’ve asked… but he’s doing it all for the wrong reasons – to game vs being a good husband/father. It is his first love and it is devastating for our family. I feel like since this has been going on for years, it might never change. What do you do when gaming has gotten this far and you have a spice who refuses to see it as something other than a hobby?

    • Shoshana

      Playing video games was all my ex and his friends did. I hated it! They were all smokers so any time we went to their house it was like being in an ashtray while they played video games the whole time. Ex tried to get me to play, but I won the first time so he didn’t like that and video games bored me after a while and would play ALL day. Ex hurt his back at work so he was off for a long time. I worked night shift. Here’s the thing, my ex played video games the whole time, but sitting in front of an x box all day really aggravated the nerve in his back even when he tried to sleep at night. Ex was not a man quiet when he was losing (yelling and swearing at TV) or when he was in pain (unable to sleep due to aggravated nerve). We had one TV at the time so he played video games all day yelling and swearing when I tried to sleep for night shift. Up all night yelling in pain cause he couldn’t sleep not could I on my nights off. No sleep for either of us because man baby couldn’t understand that HE was aggravating that nerve with his constant gaming sitting hunched over those controls. I couldn’t watch TV because he had to game, and I wasn’t sleeping because he wouldn’t be quiet. I had surgery where the pain was so bad I thought I wanted to die, but I kept it to myself because he was working. Man baby ex couldn’t or wouldn’t let me sleep or stop playing those games as they took his “mind off the pain”. I felt horrible because it he was in pain, but I resented he didn’t manage it better. Plus sore loser yelling at Xbox when he would be losing. I ended up screaming at him because I could not sleep, but I ended up resenting to the point of hatred. Good thing was he couldn’t badger me for one sided sex as usual cause I would’ve been over the edge. I still feel rage when I think back to that.

  12. Hope Richards

    I have this same problem with my husband, but with other hobbies like social media, watching sports, and playing guitar. I’ve asked for quality time a few nights a week (even if it’s only 30 min) and he thinks my expectations are unreasonable. To him, after our child goes to bed the rest of the evening is his. He makes comments like “someone always wants his attention all day” (with work, our child after work, etc). I understand that, but I also don’t think he should just neglect me to hang by himself every night. I don’t know how to get him to understand that spending 1:1 time with his wife is important to a thriving marriage – he just thinks I’m asking too much. He goes to the gym three nights a week, and I just want 1 date night a week and maybe 30 min two other nights a week. I spend most of my evenings completely alone.


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