Are you getting frustrated because your husband spends all of his free time playing video games?
This can be a tough thing to deal with, especially if you’re feeling neglected, or he is avoiding other responsibilities he’s got going in his life.
So, how do you address this in a healthy way, without getting into an argument?
In this article, we’ll be sharing some of our best tips!
1. Identify Your Concerns
Before approaching your husband, it’s important to define exactly what your concerns are.
You may know that you don’t like him playing video games all day, but have you taken the time to analyze what exactly about it is upsetting you? Identifying these issues and keeping a ‘mental checklist’ will not only make it easier to explain things to your husband, but will also help you come up with solutions that work for the both of you.
For example, are you upset because it feels like the husband is choosing video games over you? Is it because you feel that you are doing an unfair amount of housework, while they spend the day relaxing? Perhaps you feel neglected, because one or both of you are gone at work, and he isn’t spending enough time with you when he’s home.
These are all very different reasons, with very different sets of potential solutions. Of course, regardless of how you’re feeling, it’s important to remember that your concerns are completely valid.
So, take a moment to really think about why the video games upset you, so you know how to approach the upcoming conversation.
2. Voice And Explain Your Concerns
Once you’re completely clear on why you’re upset, and how your husband’s excessive video game usage is affecting you, it’s time to discuss the matter.
When doing so, I recommend starting the focus on how it’s making you feel, rather than making accusative statements.
For example, making statements about him at the start – or the number of hours spent playing video games, can cause him to become defensive and mentally ‘shut out’, preventing them from really hearing or empathizing with the feelings you have to share.
Statements that invoke feelings of shame or self-criticism in him can also shift the focus in his mind away from you. This is particularly true if he is suffering from self-esteem or confidence issues, or is otherwise going through something else that has him feeling down about himself (such as the loss of a friend or a job.)
If you are feeling neglected – you genuinely miss spending quality time with him, this is a lot easier to empathize with if you focus on this, rather than making him feel like he’s being attacked.
In the end however, you must be clear about how you’re feeling and how it’s affecting you, so you can set up plans to address it.
3. Listen With Empathy – Diagnose The Root Of The Issue
While talking with him, make sure that you give him ample time to talk and express his feelings.
Although video game addiction is a real thing, there may be plenty of other reasons why he’s choosing to spend so much time playing video games each day. Some of these reasons may actually be solved in other ways, that are better for the both of you!
For example, it’s possible that he’s feeling an extreme amount of stress from work, and uses video games as his way to decompress.
Or, maybe life events have him feeling overwhelmed, and video games are a way to forget about the world and all of its problems for a while.
Perhaps he simply feels like he has nothing else exciting to do, so he turns to video games due to boredom.
Each of these can be solved in different ways, and are even opportunities to bring your relationship closer together. Is he stressed out? Bored? What activities can you plan together that will help with these?
4. Set Up A Plan To Address It
Hopefully, the two of you are able to have an effective conversation, that doesn’t end with attacks, arguing, or stonewalling.
If so, congratulations! At this point, you should both be aware of each other’s feelings, and you can begin taking steps to address it.
Sometimes, the conversation alone will be enough. However, you may find more success if you plan out action steps together that can help reduce the amount of time he spends playing video games.
For example, you may commit to an additional date night each week, that forces you both to do something fun other than video games.
Or, you may tell your husband that you’ll have no problems with him playing as much as he wants, as long as X, Y, and Z chores are done.
Regardless of the action steps you come up with, I recommend focusing on gradually reducing the amount of time he plays, rather than asking him to quit playing them entirely. If video games are something that brings him joy, it is unfair and unreasonable to ask him to give up this part of his life entirely at once.
You want to reach a solution that is beneficial for the both of you, rather than making him feel like you’re ‘taking them away’ or becoming too controlling over how he spends his time.
You may find that as you continue to implement your action steps – or build more fulfilling things for him to do, that his natural desire to play video games decreases on its own.
5. Monitor Whether It’s Actually Improving
Does this sound familiar?
Say you two talked about an issue you had going in your relationship. They promised to change or improve, and they did at first! However, as the weeks went by, they naturally fell back into their old habits, ultimately leaving you right back where you started.
This is completely normal, and happens to all of us – even with good intentions.
Therefore, it’s important that you actually monitor whether or not things are improving. You may even commit to a weekly discussion with it.
If he has been successful at reducing his time spent playing video games, be sure to recognize and show appreciation for this. However, if progress hasn’t been made, don’t hesitate to bring this up either – especially if he made a commitment to improving.
People put forth more effort when they know that others are paying attention!
6. Consider Games You Can Play Together
Finally, you may consider playing games with him, as a way to bring the both of you closer together.
You don’t need to be a ‘gamer’ or even have a massive interest in video games to have a lot of fun. These days, there are plenty of couple-friendly video games that you can pick up and enjoy, even if you don’t feel that you’re very good at them.
A few James and I enjoy playing together are:
- Stardew Valley
- Overcooked 2
- Super Mario Odyssey
- Mario Party Superstars
- Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
- The Borderlands series
- Call Of Duty Zombies
- Animal Crossing: New Horizons
- Skyrim (this one isn’t multiplayer, but is still a lot of fun to sit on the couch and play together.
- The Legend of Zelda series (same with this one.)
Most of these games are available for the Nintendo Switch, which might be the best console for couples at the moment. If you consider buying one, make sure that you don’t buy the Switch Lite, as this one can’t be hooked up to your television.
It can be frustrating and hurtful when your husband chooses video games over spending time with you.
However, there’s a good chance that the problem can be solved – or at least made better by talking with him.
I hope that this article has provided some ideas for you. If you have any other questions, ask them below and I’ll try to give my best advice.
Wishing you the best,
– Amara McAllister