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Carolyn Hax: Wife’s had it with his Xbox habit

Wed., Dec. 8, 2010

Dear Carolyn: A little more than a year ago, I married my wonderful husband. Things were great between us, until his mother bought him an Xbox for Christmas.

My 34-year-old husband now spends, literally, every waking moment playing video games. Before, we used to enjoy cooking dinner together in the kitchen; now he plays when he gets home from work while I cook alone. He stays up late and plays while I sleep. He plays instead of doing any kind of chores around the house.

I have repeatedly asked him to curtail his game-playing, to no avail. I feel like I married a small child, and that gaming has taken over our marriage. I have told him, repeatedly, how much his game-playing obsession offends me. Now, I view it as an addiction consuming our marriage. – Newlywed No More

Saying it offends you is different from saying, “I feel like I married a small child,” or that you don’t feel as if you have a husband anymore.

His neglect will alienate you to the point where you no longer love him or want to remain married; you can plan on it. Often, though, the only thing that wakes spouses up to the possibility of getting dumped is the sight of other spouse actually leaving, with no interest in coming back.

But while you can’t fake being at the precipice when you aren’t yet, you can bring yourself to the point of brutal clarity now, while you still feel emotionally invested in the marriage. “I am not ready to give up, because you’re wonderful and I love you, but I am approaching the point where I refuse to be in this marriage alone.” Don’t just ask him to stop. Connect his choices to their eventual cost, as you would any addict.

He still might choose gaming. And you might choose to make an appointment with a (well-vetted) marriage counselor – and, with his full knowledge, to talk to his family.

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