My husband is addicted to the computer! He spends most of his time in front of the screen and stays on until late into the night, usually coming to bed between 2 – 3 a.m. I feel as if he prefers the computer to spending time with me! Am I being overly sensitive or expecting too much that he come to bed at a decent hour? What do I do?
You aren’t being too sensitive and you have some good reasons to be concerned. After reading your question, I am concerned for your husband and for your marriage. At best your husband has an unhealthy habit and at worst I am concerned that he may be involved with unhealthy “chat rooms” and/or becoming addicted to internet pornography. Our experience has taught us that in the vast majority of cases, when a man consistently stays up late with his computer, he is involved in chat rooms or pornography.
Your first step is to “speak the truth in love” and directly express your concerns to him with clarity and compassion. Prayerfully consider what might be the most effective time, place and way for you to talk with him. What are some of the ways you’ve approached him in the past that weren’t effective? Do you have any communication habits that put him on the defensive? Did you start by being accusatory or critical of him? Did your frustration and fear get the best of you and cause you to come across as attacking? Did you over generalize and use all-or-nothing statements like “You always” or “You never?”
Start by communicating your love for him, your desire to have a strong, healthy and mutually satisfying marriage and then be specific in addressing your concerns. Make sure that you instead of making statements about him, use “I” statements to help him understand how this is a problem for you. If you feel concerned, threatened, abandoned, lonely or frustrated, let him know how you feel. You might tell him that “My perception is that we’re moving further and further apart and I’m afraid for you, for me, for our marriage and for our family.”
In addition to this more “problem-focused” approach, we encourage you to initiate communication that is more “growth-focused.” Many people have found that answering the following questions provide a fresh source of new insights as to how to reengage their spouse.
How long has this been a problem? What was different about your relationship before it became a problem? Did you do anything different in your interactions with him? Did you spend more time together? Did you laugh more? Did you pray more? Did you do more with friends? Were you more involved with church activities?
He may be totally blind as to how his “affair” is a problem for him, for you or for the marriage. If that’s the case, we would encourage both of you to read a book by Tom Whiteman, Your Marriage and the Internet. If he doesn’t respond to any of these suggestions, you may need to talk with one of the pastors at your church. We’ve seen some cases where these suggestions were enough and other cases where it took the pastor and some male friends initiating an “intervention” for the problem to be solved. Do take the steps and do allow God to guide your heart and words.