I’d like to address something that has become extremely concerning to me as a husband and as a father in recent years. The addiction to video gaming within marriage. While the content of many modern video games is most certainly questionable in the context of a Christian home (can anyone say “Grand Theft Auto?”), video game content is not the point of this writing. No indeed.

What is of greatest concern to me are the multitudes of husbands – young and old alike – that spend hours and hours playing games on their TV or computer, while completely ignoring their weary wives and children. I know of some men within my own personal circles who do this, and I’ve read countless cries for help in other bloggers’ comment sections from wives who are at their wits end from not being able to get the attention of the man who promised to cherish her for life. I’m even aware that there are many men who will call in sick to work, then sit home and play games all day while their wives wonder how they’re going to put food on the table! Really guys???

And lest anyone think that I’m somehow being “sexist” here today, I have yet to hear of a SINGLE CASE of a wife being guilty of this offense against her husband. If such a wife exists, please feel free to point her to this post – in the hopes that it may do some good in her marriage!

As a side note – this post is NOT intended to address social media through the array of other electronic devices we can waste time on. That issue is most definitely an across-the-board problem that affects EVERYONE with no respect for gender, race, religious beliefs, or even age.

Before I move on, let me make something abundantly clear… I LOVE playing video games! Yes, I admit it. From the very first in-home video system known as “Pong”, I was hooked. I was 9 years old in 1975 when my parents brought home the shiny new device and plugged it into our TV.

SUPERPONG1

For those of you who are too young to remember “Pong”, perhaps you’ve seen the movie “Wall-E”. Does this look familiar?

PONG2

Anyway, through each new generation of game consoles I have watched in wonder as the programmers push the ever-expanding limits of what can be done with action and graphics. So I full-on understand the irresistible draw that video gaming has today. The multi-dimensional visuals are absolutely stunning, and the scenic backgrounds in many games have actually come incredibly close to lifelike. It’s easy for one to self-immerse in an environment such as these, and completely lose track of time and responsibility in an alternate reality.

kapow1

And THAT, dear readers, is precisely the point of this post.

Losing yourself in an alternate reality… while your wife lives in THIS reality. The reality where there are bills to pay, a home to maintain, possibly a child (or children) to care for. The same reality where you once said “I do” to a woman you promised to stand side-by-side with for the rest of your life. Yes, THAT reality!

In my earlier years, I was a heavy metal guitarist playing in several bands. You might even say I was married to my music. My wife came second to everything else – she got what was leftover after I’d exhausted myself working my job on the Air Force base all day and playing music all evening. On the odd nights when I wasn’t playing music, I was playing video games. And gents, there wasn’t much left over to give. I gave her almost no consideration, except when I wanted something (yes, usually sex.) She was working hard at raising our two toddlers basically by herself, and I couldn’t see past my own inconveniences to see that she was struggling. It didn’t take my beloved Tiffani long to start considering herself a single mom in a married home. And at just short of 2 years of marriage, she took the two kids and left me. Thus began a year of separation. For Tiffani, it was a year of “searching for what she’d missed”, and for me it was a year of brokenness and despair. But thankfully, it was also the year that Jesus made His presence very real to both of us, while we lived 3500 miles apart on separate coasts of the U.S. (You can find that story in earlier posts on this blog.)

Guys, you and your wife have a home together. Perhaps you have children together. Your wife married you because she wanted to spend a lifetime with you! This woman adores you! Why on earth would you toss her off to the side for a video game? I am coming to you as one who was once in exactly the same place. I believed the same things – children and housework were HER job, making the money was MY job. And when I got home from work, MY job was over for the day!

Yes, I truly believed these things – what an idiot I was. But apparently I grew up with views and thought processes that are very common among young men.

As I mentioned early on, I love to play video games. But I have learned to play in much smaller chunks of time than I used to. I have also learned that there is so much more to life and caring for my family. Do I do it perfectly? Of course not. I’m sure Tiffani would agree with that. But today, I am not what I once was. And with my Lord’s help, I’ll do better tomorrow.

Men, I am coming to you now as one who has, by God’s grace, been given a second chance. Not everyone gets that second chance. Take a good LONG look at your wife. Is she stressed out and wondering when you’re going to spend some time with her? Open your eyes and REALLY take a look around your house… is there housework that needs to be done because your wife is spending all her time caring for the baby? At this moment, you have an opportunity to become a hero in the eyes of your wife. But it’s up to you to make it happen. And this should not be a one-time thing. It needs to be a DAILY thing.

Put your game controller back on the charger, and leave it there for awhile. Grab the vacuum and clean some rooms. Load the dishwasher. Feed a hungry baby. And for crying out loud, spend some quality time with your wife and children! Nobody is saying you must give up playing video games. But learning what “moderation” means will be huge in your relationship!

Here are a few ideas to help you develop better balance in your family life and video gaming.

1. If you’re playing a game that has no specific end-point (like a level completion), then set a timer and decide “I’m only going to play for one hour tonight.” Then stick to that timer like glue.
2. If you’re playing a game that has specific levels, tell your wife “I’m going to play 1 level tonight (or two if they’re especially short), and be done.” Then be a man of your word.
3. Decide that on certain days of the week (agreeable to you and your spouse) you won’t play games at all.
4. If you have kids, spend some time with them each and every day. They want and need YOU as their dad.
5. Your wife married you because she likes being around you. Give her someone loveable and FUN to be around!
6. Get back to dating your spouse – whatever that means to the two of you.

These are just ideas to provide you some things to think about. Guys, these games should NEVER be more important to you than your family. Unfortunately, there are way too many husbands with an addiction to gaming – and it’s got to stop. If you’re here reading this today, then please see this message for what it is… a warning from someone who’s already been to hell and back to learn the lesson. Trust me guys, you don’t want to learn this lesson the same way I had to. Get your priorities straight. Make God first, then your wife, followed closely by your kids. If your gaming needs to be moved much further down the list, then be a man of integrity and make that happen.

Gentlemen, it’s time to “Man Up”. Instead of being a GAMER who just happens to be a husband, we need to be HUSBANDS who just happen to be gamers. It’s ALL about the priorities.

1 Corinthians 13:11 – “When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.”

May peace fill your home.

~Jason

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29 thoughts on “Gamer or Husband?

  1. Lindsay Bryant says:

    THANK YOU!!! Its so refreshing to hear a male man up to this. I am in the midst of this exact struggle. Even since our honeymoon, we tried to set limits and compromises and he would still go over what he had agreed to. Anyway, thanks for this post.

    1. Jason says:

      I certainly hope you will show this post to him! Perhaps it will do some good. Thanks for reading! ~Jason

  2. Bryan says:

    Brother, this was an essential and well done post. Personally, I love racing games. I use to play Gran Tourismo on the original Playstation all the time. I was awesome at it. Then, after getting married, I moved onto iPhone racing games. I can honestly say I was top 10 in the world rankings but my marriage was also in shambles. Not to put the blame on the game, but it was a place I could go to feel successful and avoid the real problems in life. I ended my streak when I realized there are much more important things in life.

    To this day, I will always say NO to the latest/ hottest gaming station. I know for a fact that I would be addicted, therefore missing the so many important things in life (Jesus, my wife, my son, others). Similar to your story, I love the games, but not more than the REAL best things in life. Thanks for this post!
    Bryan recently posted…How to Beat Down Pride in Your Marriage and ManhoodMy Profile

    1. Jason says:

      Hey Bryan! Thanks for dropping by today! I know exactly what you mean… it would be really easy for me to spend an entire day playing Call of Duty as I really enjoy the WWII-type shooters. And I have gone through those times in life when I just couldn’t put it down. But as I began to look around me and see what my wife was dealing with while I was “away” in another world, I got really convicted. She doesn’t mind me playing now, as long as I do it (mostly) after the kids go to bed, and that I give myself plenty of time to sleep. I get up at 4am for work, and it really sucks to be dragging my face on the ground at the office because I’m so tired. I also have other duties to attend to that are more important… I’m the worship leader at my church, and must manage the team and music each week. And I’m also involved in the Civil Air Patrol with one of my sons. All of these things take time and commitment.

      So where are you in Virginia? We have a small farm in Northern VA, near Quantico Marine Base.

    2. Lindsay Bryant says:

      Mad props to you for changing your life and realizing your weaknesses. Your family is blessed to have you. Your story gives me hope for my hubby

  3. LP says:

    Thanks for sharing from a man’s point of view! I’m dealing with this and praying for a change for the better.

    1. Jason says:

      I definitely hope and pray that the situation improves tremendously for you. Thank you for reading! ~Jason

  4. J. Parker says:

    Bless you for writing this! I will definitely be sharing it.

    And given the focus on my blog, I know there are husbands avoiding sexual intimacy with their wives by playing video games. Yep, they stay up late and don’t get into bed until an unreasonable hour, completely exhausted and uninterested in physical connection. How heartbreaking! I don’t know how often this happens, but it’s a real problem for some. It makes me want to say, “Stop pushing the controller buttons, guys, and go push your wife’s buttons!”

    I will always be grateful for that moment many years ago when my husband removed a video game he loved from his computer because he realized it was in the way of US…and US mattered far more than the game. Thanks again!
    J. Parker recently posted…Q&A: Will Frequent Yeses Turn My Husband into a Sex Maniac?My Profile

    1. Jason says:

      Hi J!

      Ironically enough, this post was born from reading so many comments on your blog and Sheila G’s blog. So many wives are utterly frustrated with their oblivious husbands, and I wish I could personally smack these guys back into THIS reality! They have no idea what they’re missing with their families! I am really glad that God got hold of me so long ago on this issue. I still enjoy a good game session, but never again will those overshadow my wife and children.

      I truly hope this post helps to knock some sense into a good number of men out there!

      Thank you for reading and sharing!

  5. Debi says:

    Well said, Jason! Such a hot topic in today’s young marriages. I pray this post will give backbone to the wives who have been trapped in this isolation chamber and help them stand up and challenge their husbands to “man up” as you say.
    This reminds me of a song by Sanctus Real:
    http://youtu.be/ffBG7JAvBiw
    Debi recently posted…Happy HourMy Profile

    1. Jason says:

      Thank you so much, Debi! I see this as such a big problem today. I hope this will change a few – who can then tell their friends what they’re missing in their marriages. ~Jason

  6. Kay says:

    I think you hit on something in the above comments, that sometimes the addiction is merely a symptom of a deeper problem/desire. My husband become completely addicted to video games right as I began recovering from a severe case of PPD, but I see now that that experience made him feel like a complete failure in life because he couldn’t fix it. At least in video games, he could be a hero. Today it’s games on his phone. We finally realized it was putting strain on our marriage when I disrespectfully exploded, “The only time I have your undivided attention is when you are having sex with me!” I apologized for how I handled it, but did express the pain and loneliness I feel when I am competing with a phone… and losing. So we have set some limits, but I really don’t want to be his mom in this area. I understand his desire to play for a bit when he gets home from work to unwind, so I keep the kids away for a few so he can do that. And I also understand how his job as a database coordinator can feel so pointless at times, so I understand his need to have a grand adventure! I have started watching him play some of his games with a decent plot (usually while folding laundry, etc) and it has actually been very fun to do together. We just bought the Lego Harry Potter games so even I can play with him. I totally suck at it, haha, but we just laugh and laugh and have so much fun. Maybe that’s an unhealthy “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” approach, but it works for us. Most importantly, I am learning to be direct. My indirect attempts to get his attention don’t work. I need to explicitly say, “I would like to spend some time with you,” because he cannot take a hint. It is helping tremendously! Great post!

    1. Jason says:

      Thanks for commenting, Kay! I apologize that it’s taken me awhile to respond but I was lost in an alternate reality! ????

      Just kidding… We’re currently moving from one farm to another and it’s seriously eating up every waking moment.

      It sounds like you and your hubby have come up with a reasonable plan that works for your family, and that’s great! As long as he spends time with the kids too – that’s important.

      Sometimes when I’m playing an RPG of some sort (I really like the Final Fantasy games), Tiffani has become my navigator as we explore our way through the gigantic maps. But she gets dizzy and nauseated when I play the Medal of Honor / Call of Duty type games. She can’t handle the spinning of the screen. That’s ok though. I just enjoy the times when she sits with me while I unwind with a game.

      Being direct with your husband is fantastic. Many of us guys can be very dense when our wives dance around a topic without being direct. We don’t take hints well. Once Tiffani and I figured this out, and we began to speak clearly with each other, our marriage improved tremendously. I am SO glad that we chose to make these decisions to make our marriage and friendship better. I am a blessed man!

      ~Jason

  7. CSL says:

    I agree with everything in this post, with the exception to the statement that you don’t need to address wives about electronics. I have read plenty of ‘testimonies’ from husbands that tell of wives wedded to Facebooking for hours on end. I’ve seen this play out, personally, in one son’s marriage. It might be that the difference between between Grand Theft Auto on an Xbox and Facebook on an iPhone is that you can’t take the Xbox to bed with you. I’ve read of wives taking their phones to bed, but not the other way around.

    1. Jason says:

      Hi CSL, and thank you for reading today!

      I never made the statement that I didn’t need to address wives about ‘electronics’. I very specifically said “video games”, which was the topic of the post. I have never once seen or heard about a wife who had a video game addiction that causes her to totally neglect her family.

      Now, if you want to get into discussing Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like, I will absolutely agree with you 100%!

      The video game addiction seems to be a phenomenon that affects mostly (if not exclusively) men.

      You bring up a good point though… One I hadn’t considered. Perhaps it IS easier to bring a phone or iPad to bed than an Xbox or PlayStation!

      Thank you for commenting!

      ~Jason

  8. Jai says:

    The problem with the issue of bringing cell phones to bed is that it’s an equal problem with both sexes. Video gaming isn’t *usually* a female problem. However I have known women to neglect their homes and children for video games but their spouses aren’t usually complaining because they are right there playing along side of them.

    The video game issue uses to be a problem until my hubs and I went through a separation as well. If he wasn’t at band practice or working 65 hours a week he was gaming until 2 hours before he had to be back at work. I was drowning with kids and a home I couldn’t manage by myself hundreds of miles away from any family and friends. I was drowning. Fortunately things are MUCH better but it took a lot more hurt and pain and me leaving before things clicked for my prideful husband.

    I made the statement about phones in bed not being just a female thing. If he wasn’t playing games on the system, he was playing games on his phone right next to me on bed. I’ve had other wives share even worse stories of husband’s bringing phones to bed for pornography because they supposedly *needed* it to sleep with them or they would have extramarital affairs on their phones while their wives slept right next to them. I think it’s really easy for anything and everything to gain control of our lives if we allow our pride to get in the way. The only remedy is truly, honestly humbling yourself before God being TRULY repented which will show in your changed behavior. You will wake up and see that you aren’t giving your 100% in the marriage. A true man of God will willingly, decisively, and lovingly lay aside his pride daily, pick up his cross and serve his family.

    I went from having a husband no other woman would want to having the husband that other women swoon over. Its been a blessing but I’d much rather have had my husband without all the pain and grief.

    And as far as women bringing their phones to bed, I know for me, I’m literally still working. A lot of my work is on facebook, I don’t play games and the majority of the time I’m tending to business, grading and planning lessons as I homeschool my children, renewing library books online as I couldn’t get to the library that day, emailing my son’s therapists, creating meal plans, checking sales, making shopping lists, doing things that got neglected because my husband wasn’t able to help out as much that day and life with 4 kids, one with special needs, got so very overehelming. I wouldn’t judge a woman who goes to bed with her phone too quickly. If I don’t get things done, I can’t shut my brain down to sleep or I will sleep fitfully having anxiety driven dreams of things that didn’t get done and then I wake up exhausted and working at 50% the next day. A wife’s job never ends, if she has kids, it’s around the clock. We sleep when we can and get work done when we can and sometimes that’s on our phones in bed next to our sleeping husbands. Before my smart phone I never would have made it toy bed, I’d be sitting at my desk or kitchen scrambling to get things done. At least with my phone I can sit next to my sleeping husband and feel his warmth and nearness and resent his super loud snoring maintaining hope that one day I’ll get to sleep soundly too…my grandmother is in her 70s and says she still doesn’t sleep well still worrying about her grown kids and grandkids, so maybe I won’t sleep well ever again, lol. But that is life and we weren’t created for selfish pleasure. We were created to love and serve God, putting aside our desires and selflessly meeting the needs of others. I’m not sure I want to stand before God and explain to him why playing that video game for an hour was more important than loving my wife, or instructing my kids about His love, or helping our neighbor or taking care of the widows, homeless, orphans and others not so fortunate enough to be able to own a video game. We are to live as Jesus did. Meeting everyone’s else needs before our own, stopping long enough to eat and sleep so that we are nourished, rested and strong enough to continue on with taking up our cross and following Him.

    1. Jason says:

      I am glad your situation turned around, Jai! That always brings encouragement to others who are (right now) in the place where you used to be.

      Thank you for reading!

  9. CSL says:

    When you come to bed, you come to bed. You don’t bring business, scouts, PTA, and Little League with you. Your husband, your wife take priority over them. If you don’t have time for your spouse, you’re too busy. Make him/her your priority. Fondle your spouse, not your phone.

  10. I completely agree with you. I def think this goes beyond just gaming though. It can be television, social media, or any number of things that take away a spouse’s attention from the other. My husband does not play as many video games as he used to, but I definitely never thought his vid game usage was coming between us. However, since he has had those addictive tendencies, we work really hard to keep our children from becoming obsessed with video games. We have serious time limits on their game usage. It might be fairly one sided now, but it could really change that this is a prob for both genders. Just as many girls play mindcraft and other games as boys do. The upcoming generations have a lot of challenges with the access to technology they have.
    Keelie Reason recently posted…Why You Should Invest In Another CoupleMy Profile

    1. Jason says:

      I think I may write a follow up post that more fully encapsulates the social media stuff as a whole. That can definitely be an issue in a whole lot of homes around the world!
      Jason recently posted…Gamer or Husband?My Profile

  11. Sarah says:

    I love that this issue is being addressed. My husband and I have been married almost 12 years and we have 5 children. I am a stay at home mom. When we got married, neither of us were Christians. I got converted about 4 years into our marriage but my husband is still not a believer. My issue is that during our whole marriage, he has always been on the computer playing games, watching Tv, and now plays game of war on his phone during the times he is off work. I have let him know countless times over the years how I feel neglected of love, attention and my needs being met all because he plays games or watches tv for hours on end. Men seem to think that their job ends when they come home from work…but what about their duties as husbands and fathers? I have pretty much raised our children from day one all alone…except maybe the occasional times he has had to stop his precious time gaming to discipline or correct one of our kids. He doesn’t show any real interest in the kids and he only pays attention to me when he expects sex. I feel so underappreciated, unloved and my spirit has been whittled down to almost nothing all these years.I have even thought about seeking the attention I need from someone else…even though I know it would be a sin to have an affair, I am desperate to feel loved and cherished. The only thing keeping me from crossing that line is that I love my husband and I know God loves me more than my husband or anyone else ever could. I ask God very often if he would fix this…or at least help me handle it differently but I am still left feeling second best and as if I’m not married at all. Sure, he’s a great provider but that’s not the most important thing in a marriage. I have been thinking of leaving him for a while to maybe get his attention…but I have nowhere to go and no means to support myself and 5 children. It seems so pointless and impossible to change. I am afraid I have just sat back for too long accepting this as my fate with him. We need serious help and I long for a GODLY husband and father to our kids. But I feel like my answer is no. I feel like God is just allowing this. I know He has the power to fix this but I guess I’m prepared for it to never be any better.
    Ladies,listen up, if you have a husband who devotes his time to you and your children, hold on to him and be good to him because men like that are VERY rare these days! I pray for all marriages to be strengthened and I pray that these addictions become nothing but a bad memory for the sake of our future generations. I’m glad to see people talking about this, because it is a very serious issue.

    1. Tiffani says:

      Sarah, I am so heartbroken to read of your struggle. This is such a hard place to be in – saved and longing for affection… from an unsaved and unaware husband. I would encourage you to find and be consistent with a local church body of believers that can lift you up and minister to you. These dear friends could be the ones who reach your husband. In the interim, please cry out to Jesus whenever you feel the lack of attention bringing temptation. Our Lord is not unaware or unable to help you. Help may not come in the way we would like, but He will bring you peace and strength to bear up under the burden He asks you to bear right now. Please feel free to email me directly anytime for prayer or encouragement through the contact link on the site. I will be keeping you in prayer for strength and for your husband’s salvation. ~ Tiffani

  12. Lamb says:

    Excellent post, thank you. I read and read gave my husband. We also have a problem with video games. My husband spends a lot of time playing games and I try to distract him. I’m tired of doing all the housework and hear “now.” I liked Kay’s decision “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em “. Try it for myself.

    1. Jason says:

      Hello Lamb! I am SO sorry… I don’t know how in the world this comment was missed so many weeks ago. Please forgive me!

      I am glad you decided to read the article. Hopefully you found some things that will help the situation for you and your husband. Did he ever read the post for himself?

  13. Mike says:

    My wife is addicted to a variety of Facebook games. One day several years ago, I hurt my back while working outside. I laid on the ground for a good 5-10 minutes afraid to move. I finally got up and hobbled inside. I made my way to the couch and my wife called my son to get me an icepack, but it was another 20 minutes before she could pull herself away from the computer to check on me.

    1. Jason says:

      Hello Mike, I very much apologize for the long delay in responding here… I saw your comment when it was fresh, and meant to take time to reply, but then got busy and forgot about it.

      I do hope you shared this post with your wife, and that perhaps it did some good. I am considering writing a 2nd post in this same vein, but specifically about social media use. The addiction to these kinds of sites is definitely “a thing.”

  14. Stephanie says:

    This hits so close to home. Married to an Air Force man who doesn’t want to live in the same reality as me… or just doesn’t want to live in reality, I’m not sure. But in the end, he chose his own version of reality where his wife doesn’t ask anything of him (time, emotional or physic support, etc) and he left me because of it…

    1. Jason says:

      Stephanie, I’m so sorry that your husband chose so wrongly. Was this a very recent thing? Is he having any remorse over his choices? If you’d like to discuss more, you may certainly send us a private message through the “contact us” page. Our prayers are with you.

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