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