Disclaimer: This blog is a bit long, but it is important.
The other day I had a young mother whom I will call “Marie” come up to me with tears in her eyes. I use to work with her about 7 yrs ago. I didn’t know much about her personal life and what I did know was that she was married and had 2 small kids under the age of 10.
While I was at my Dr’s appt last week, we started catching up on what has been going on in our lives. I asked her how her kids were and hows her hubby. I was surprised to say the least that her marriage is struggling. She broke down in the waiting area. She also went on to tell me that her family life isn’t as joyful as it used to be. Her family is being destroyed by addictions. It wasn’t just her husband who is addicted, it is also her two young children.
From what she was saying she was telling me that she is about to file for a divorce. She loves her husband, but there is nothing there anymore emotional wise. I was nervous to ask her what her husband and kids are addicted to. I knew I didn’t want to hear they were into drugs or anything. Especially since her children are under 10. After about 5 minutes she opened up and told me that the games her husband (Chris) has been playing online games with real people. As she was becoming harder and harder to understand, she said that she feels invisible. Her husband will spend hours playing these games with strangers and can’t take the time to even spend an hour with her.
Marie said that ever since her husband bought a game that interacts with strangers from all over the world, she feels she has lost her husband. Marie works at the hospital here in town and doesn’t really get much time to spend with her husband and kids. When she told me that the video games he plays is ruining her marriage, I didn’t know what to say to her.
I can understand her in a bit. I would get so upset with my husband over video games. From the time he woke up, till the time he would go to bed, he would be sitting in the same spot and playing Donkey Kong and Mario Brothers. If I needed to ask him a question, he was zoned out. If I repeated my question, he would get snappy with me and tell me, ” don’t you see I am playing a game?” The answer is obviously yes, since he has been playing it since he woke up and it was already dinner time.
When we moved to Rockford, Illinois for a short time someone broke into our apartment and stole the game. It made me scared and worried that someone broke in, but I can tell you that I didn’t miss that game station.
Marie’s children also have game stations in their rooms. She was saying how she hasn’t seen her children out of their room for a couple of days at a time. The only time she would see any movement from them or her husband was if they were hungry or needed to pee. I did give her a bit of advice on her kids. I told her that she is the mom and they are the kids. If the games are getting in the way of time spent with family and friends, then it should be taken away. I don’t mind games and they aren’t the enemy, but in my opinion, moderation is needed.
Marie works 12 hour shifts 4 days a week at the hospital in the NICU. When she comes home, she wants to unwind and talk to her husband about what went on in her day. Marie feels like she is being ignored since he puts her on hold so he can talk to random people online that he has never met. Her husband has invested many hours each day. I believe she told me that he spends at least 7-8 hours a day playing games and interacting with complete strangers, and yet he has no time for her. He won’t talk to her, but he will talk to strangers. They are co-existing and that’s about it.
Video games have changed the way we interact with others. They change how we talk to each other and how we invest our time and energy . I had to ask my daughter to break down how much time is actually used when it comes to my friends husband on the computer. This is in just 1 years time.
This is how much wasted time that is spent on playing video games instead of investing that time in the family. 1872 hours, 112,320 minutes, 78 twenty-four hour days or 234 eight-hour days, and 11 weeks 1 day (if all consecutive hours).This is just for her husband. She said the kids will get online for a few hours a day and I am sure that adds up also.
Marie was in the room trying to have a conversation with Chris while he was on the computer. She was saying that in one of the games her husband was playing was adult themed. She questioned him about what was going on and he lashed out at her and put his hand over the screen so she couldn’t see. He was basically playing porn games and even had a female partner.
In moderation, children and adults can learn from video games. I am somewhat sure that there are useful video games. Her husband Christ was substituting video games and the computer for his personal relationships and life in general. There are educational games and games that are fun. Video games aren’t all bad, but when they take the place of interacting one on one with those around you, then there is a huge problem.
During our conversation, she was saying that video games have become the elephant in the room. Family time ceased and life passed them by. Before they got the video game console, they would do many family activities outside of the house. They are LDS (Mormon) and they would attend church weekly and take part in the mid week services. I’m not sure what they are since I’m not LDS.
Over this last year, her husband has ceased going to any kind of church or services. He says he still believes, however his actions say something differently. The longer he is away from church and other like minded people, the easier it is to fall back into the old way of doing things. The children would go to church with Marie, but they were distracted while they were there.
Marie went into her kid’s room and shut off the game console. The little one called her a blanken B and turned around and turned the game back on. I asked Marie what she did when he did that and she said that she didn’t want to fight with him, so she let him play. She and I would handle that differently. If that was my child that said that, that game would be smashed to smithereens.
I suggested to her that she tells him what she is thinking and feeling before it is too late. Since she is LDS (Mormon), she could even talk to her Bishop. They could also do couples counseling and family meetings. I ended up getting called back to the Drs office, so I had to end the conversation. I did call her later that night. I just wanted to say a couple of things to her about what she is going through. She didn’t have to do it if she chose not to.
Marie has been thinking about divorce since there is little to no conversations. Marie loves Chris, but she can’t compete with a video game and his online friends. She is finding herself more and more depressed over this situation. She is nicer than I am when it comes to that kind of thing. It would be sledge hammer time.
Her children are following in her husbands foot steps. They totally zone out the world while they play games. Since Chris is the one home with the kids while she is on her job at the hospital, they all pretty much do the same thing. The kids are playing their games and her husband is playing his. Since her children are playing games, I suggested to her that she should monitor what they are doing. If they are playing online games with strangers, that is dangerous. Most people have no clue who is on the other end.She was saying how her kids feels like those they are playing with and talking to are real live actual friends, even though they have never met. I see danger signs all over the place when it comes to children chatting to strangers online.
I got to thinking about how much time her husband is spending on the computer each year and what a huge block of time is spent doing these games. How much time is being wasted when that time could be spent doing things with his children, wife and for the Lord?
My husband was on the road all the time and he would play video games or get on the computer when he came home. I had no problem with him doing that unless it was from the time he woke up till he went to bed. I threw a shoe at his head one time when he was playing a came for 12 hours straight. He was to the point where he couldn’t even stand up. If I walked in front of the game, he would throw a child size temper tantrum. Thankfully that game was stolen. He doesn’t play games very much now. He will go online and play games. But, they aren’t the kind where you talk to strangers. They are one player games and he isn’t playing all day and night, while life passes him by.
Maybe Maries husband is using the game to unwind also. He works at Cosco’s and maybe he needs some his time. I told Marie that she should talk to him about it and be honest about how his addiction to playing games is destroying your marriage. I find there are two sides to all stories. I am praying that she doesn’t go through with this divorce. He use to play only a couple of hours at a time. Now about 37 hours a week. She needs to find out by asking what it is about video games that fills the voids in his life.
If you could pray for Marie’s husband and two kids, that would be awesome. They can really use them.