Although both men and women can develop internet or gaming addictions, it seems that many more women are talking about their husbands playing video games constantly. Constant video gaming can lead to marital problems and sadly, in many cases, divorce.
People can become addicted to video games in similar fashion that people become addicted to other things, such as drugs or alcohol. The obvious difference is that video game addictions don’t have the physical dependence component that drugs do. Instead, it is a psychological dependence.
It isn’t just video games that people are becoming addicted to. Many people become addicted to the internet, online gambling, cyber relationships, or social media as well. This concept is something that past generations have never had to deal with and the idea that electronics can be addictive is just emerging in research.
Something becomes an addiction when it interferes with a person’s social, occupational or educational functioning. So the difference between a casual player and someone with a problem isn’t defined by the amount of time they spend playing, but instead by the problems it causes in their life. A person who plays 10 hours per week but isn’t neglecting any responsibilities probably doesn’t have a problem. A person who plays 7 hours per week and stays up late playing causing him to be late for work as a result may have a problem.
Warning Signs of an Addiction
When people develop an addiction to video games, they often lose track of time. They may start playing and only intend to play for a few minutes and hours pass before they realize how long they have been playing. It can cause them to neglect household and work related responsibilities as a result. They also tend to neglect family and friends. They may even avoid engaging in social activities in order to play games online. They may play with other people online and replace face-to-face interactions with online gaming interactions. They often feel like they have much more in common with their online friends and think their spouse doesn’t understand.
Another warning sign is when others are concerned about a person’s gaming. However, when the person is approached with the concern, they may become defensive. They may or may not feel guilty. They may agree to decrease their gaming time, but it likely won’t last.
People who engage in a lot of video gaming may develop some physical health issues as well. It can interfere with their sleep. It can also cause headaches, back pain, eye strain, and carpal tunnel. Sometimes people experience weight changes as well as they either lose weight due to neglect their eating habits or gain weight due to inactivity.
Reasons People Become Addicted
Sometimes people replace one addiction for another. For example, a person who is recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction may become addicted to gaming. People tend to use addictions to numb themselves from emotional pain and some people find that gaming provides them with an escape from reality.
Other people use gaming to cope with feelings they don’t want to address. Stress, anxiety and depression can be avoided by constant gaming. Sometimes people say, “I don’t have to think about anything when I’m gaming.” Other times people who struggle with social interactions in person feel much more confident with their gaming interactions.
Sometimes the fantasy of a virtual world is more exciting than real life. People may find their own life is boring or depressing and the online world offers them a break from this. However, the more they neglect their real life, it can cause them to sink deeper into the virtual world.
What Can Help?
It’s important to remember that you can’t force your spouse to change. Nagging won’t help. Hiding the video game console won’t solve the problem. Arguing about it isn’t likely to create change either.
So what can you do if your husband is paying more attention to the video games than you? Express your concerns in a calm manner. Discuss how it is impacting you and the family. Discuss what you’ve noticed has been neglected and share your feelings. Encourage your spouse to seek help if he wants to change.
Encourage your spouse to become involved with activities that don’t involve gaming. Manage your own gaming and internet use to model appropriate use of electronics. Try to spend time with other people and couples who don’t have a gaming addiction. Sometimes it can be an eye opener if your spouse hears what other people accomplish with their time.
Avoid enabling your spouse. For example, don’t agree to change the time you make dinner to accommodate his gaming addiction. Instead, focus on your own needs and take care of yourself. Develop some interests and activities that you enjoy doing and if your spouse isn’t interested in joining you, do them on your own. Don’t just sit at home waiting for your spouse to offer you attention or stop playing games.
Consider professional help if you feel like your marriage is at risk. Marriage counseling can help a couple deal with the problems associated with video games. Individual therapy can also be helpful to either partner.