Gaming Husband

My husband plays video games frequently.

Question

My husband and I have been married for seven years. He has a group of six or seven friends who get together three times a week to play football video games. Usually they play until midnight. It doesn’t seem to matter that I have to get up early the next day for work. I hate the video games and wish he’d stop playing them. Sometimes I feel as though I’m married to a 12-year-old. And although I love him, his video-playing makes me not want to be affectionate—or even nice!—to him. Please help!

Answer

One doesn’t need to be professional therapists to pick up on your understandable disappointment and frustration. Some people have a more difficult time than others making the move from being single to becoming a couple. We use the word “becoming” because it is a process.

The truth is, your husband chose to be married to you and probably values his relationship with you but is still getting many of his male buddy needs met through his video game adventures. His time with his friends is as important as is your time with your female friends. It’s a matter of balance.

The first step is for you to clarify your concerns. What do you really want? Is it a change in the frequency, length, location or loudness of their time together? Do you want more couple time? When you talk with him, focus on your shared value of a healthy marriage and share what you want more of rather than what you want less of. This communicates that you understand and respect his values and needs as well as your own.

If your actual words or even tone of voice communicate any message of disgust or resentment he will probably tune you out by telling himself, “She just doesn’t understand.” The very thing you want is for your message to be heard, and if he senses condemnation, wrath and rejection he’s not likely to hear what you actually say. He will interpret those messages as nagging and that will only drive him to the safe place of more buddy video game playing. There’s nobody nagging him there!

One approach that many newlyweds have found helpful is to have one night a week when each partner gets together with their same-sex friends. This facilitates the continuity of important friendships, honors each other’s unique gender-related interests and limits the amount of non-couple time. Have you considered having a girls-night-out with your friends on one of the video nights? It would also be helpful to talk about what you did when you were dating that you both enjoyed. Do you still have date nights? Are you involved with other young marrieds in a Bible study or cell group? Does your church have a vibrant young marrieds ministry?

Remember that how you talk about this issue is probably more important than what you actually say. Pray, prepare, pray some more, be calm, be considerate, be self-responsible and be patient. If nothing else works, you can always march right in, sit down beside him, grab a control module and join in but you’ll probably be better off trying our other suggestions first.

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