Jon and I decided in our courtship that we wanted very low technology in our house. In my mind, this meant NO TV or computer games. But I also knew that Jon was really, really good at games. He played chess (winning some competitions) and we played card games with friends. He was still in college and was in a technology major.
Well after we got married, I found out Jon wasn’t as serious about that ‘very low technology idea’ as I was. And he loved strategy as well as computers. And the level of competition from his family and neighbors wasn’t enough. Jon loves a challenge and computer games pushed him intellectually. The result was he started to play a lot of computer games. And I started to be very angry. Being a pleaser, I hate people being angry with me so I must have believed that this would change his behavior because it would have changed mine. This was not so.
I felt lied to. I felt ignored. I felt a lot of things. None of which are polite. As I look back, my feelings were all about me. And I was giving him a lot of power over me. I recently feel like I crested the video gamer marital challenge and want to share a few insights.
- When a gamer feels controlled, they dig deeper and play more. No one wants another mother. You married a legitimate adult and when you get angry, you only make things worse. He is a person with a brain of his own so let him make his own choices.
- That said, there are consequences to choices. Calmly tell him what you see. For instance, I tell him that sometimes I feel invisible when he games and I try to distance myself a little. Or I comment that I find him extremely attractive when he is playing with kids or doing the dishes. (This is absolutely true. My idea of a hottie wrestles with kids and helps out) If I feel ignored and don’t feel close to him, I have no desire for his physical attention. And I can communicate that if it is said as simple fact, not as a ballistic missile. Also apart from any gaming time, I ask him what he wants in life. What is his ultimate plan? I don’t interject my expectations. Remember, this is his life. If he mentions that he thinks he might be wasting time, I ask him what HE is going to do about it. Make no suggestions unless HE asks for them.
- Focus on the positive. The game is giving him rewards. Making him feel mentally challenged and like a winner. You might be making him feel like a loser. The law of attraction states that whatever you focus on grows. Once I started focusing on his strengths, his strengths got stronger. For instance, Jon plays chess and cards with our children OFTEN. He goes to soccer games all season. He makes all the money for our family and often sacrifices what he wants for what the family wants. Daily he holds a family religious devotional; even when he travels, he phones in for this family time. He cuddles up and watches movies with our kids (I can NOT do this. I have no idea why). He is very honest and generous. The list could go on. But sometimes all I see is the stupid gaming. And then it grows.
- Realize you have issues that he doesn’t like too. And treat him like you would like to be treated. I like to shop. Jon’s family is probably the most frugal family I have ever met. They paid their house off in 14 years, long before any kid went to college; they pay cash for cars. You get the idea. And my family shops for fun! This is difficult for Jon. But he doesn’t storm around being all angry. He may not like it, but he knows I am an adult capable of making my own decisions. We talk about our finance plan and make some goals. Then he lets me be me and make big girl decisions, even if it is not at all what he would do. I should show him the same respect.
I don’t think this is by any means a conclusive or one size fits all solution, but I wanted to share what has worked for us. Focus on that positive. I promise, it will grow!