Is your husband hooked on video games?

It's true. Sometimes husbands plunk themselves down in front of the computer or game system and would refuse to come up for air, if it wasn't required. Frustrated wives ask themselves: Is this normal? Or, is this an addiction?

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  • According to marriage and family therapist Nefi Ledezma, it's probably not an "addiction" in the clinical sense of the word. For wives who long for interaction with their husbands after work, it can certainly seem like it.

  • Does your husband pass the "addiction" test?

    • Does he seem to prefer playing video games over interacting with the family?

    • Does he often choose to stay home rather than go out when invited, so he can play?

    • Has he lost interest in things he used to enjoy (sports, hobbies, etc.)?

    • Has his work performance been affected due to lack of sleep?

    • Does he get angry or lie about the amount of time spent on video games when confronted about how much he plays?

  • If the answer is "yes" to most of these questions, your spouse may benefit from a course correction, but how can this be accomplished?

  • First, realize that husbands need downtime and the way they go through the restorative process is usually different from wives. After a day of working, many men need time to unwind in a non-social way. This isn't a choice — men are actually wired this way. This can be frustrating since women often need the exact opposite — conversation, and time together to affirm the relationship.

  • Here are some ideas for dealing with a video game obsessed husband:

    • Talk about it. Let him know you realize he enjoys gaming, and the need to unwind. Tell him you accept it, as long as certain conditions are met. Express that you also have needs that he, in turn, should accept and try to meet. Be honest about how it makes you feel (ignored, not important, etc.) in a non-accusing way — use clear but non-attacking statements.

    • Set reasonable time limits together. Have him be the one to suggest a proper time limit.

    • Don't become the timekeeper. The husband should figure out his own way to keep track of gaming time, whether it is an alarm on his watch or some other external solution.

    • Offering to join him, in an effort to spend time together, isn't necessarily a good idea. This works for some couples, but it's fairly rare, and usually happens when both people enjoy gaming before their relationship began.

    • Don't hide the game or disable it in some way. This will almost surely just create anger and more problems.

    • Sometimes, couples therapy is the solution. If he refuses to compromise or can't keep commitments he's made about his gaming, suggest counseling. Find a peaceful moment to bring it up, rather than after a huge argument, and present it as a way to make your relationship stronger rather than "do this or else."

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  • When your husband does make an effort, be sure to let him know you've noticed and appreciate it, even if the improvement is small. It may take time, but you'll arrive at a solution that works for both of you.

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Margot Hovley is the author of the novels "Sudden Darkness" and "Glimmering Light." Her self-reliance blog is at mynewoldschool.com, and she blogs about her writing adventures at margothovley.com.

Website: http://www.margothovley.com

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