February 22, 2011 in Features

Get wife offline, back to real world

Kathy Mitchell/Marcy Sugar

Dear Annie: I have been married to “Brook” for more than 20 years, and we have a loving relationship. However, lately I am lonely because my wife is addicted to the Facebook game “Farmville.”

We used to spend our evenings together. Now she spends her time online. When I ask her to join me in watching what used to be a favorite TV show, she says, “Just a minute,” and if I’m lucky, she’ll show up an hour later.

I’ve tried using my computer skills to clandestinely monitor, limit or block access to these websites. But each time, she called our Internet provider’s tech support and reset everything. I’ve tried gently chiding her that all the so-called “friends” she has on these games are only monopolizing her time, but she shrugs this off and insists she doesn’t spend that much time online. She is lying to herself. I’ve tracked it. In a single day, she spent eight hours on this site. I’ve caught her online at 3 a.m.

Our house is a disaster. I do a lot of housework, but Brook is distracted when she tries to “help” and takes a lot of breaks – which means she’s online again. How can I get her to spend more time with me? – Fed Up with a Farmville Fanatic

Dear Fed Up: These online games encourage constant participation, and many provide virtual social communities. Your wife fears that if she stops playing for an extended period, she will lose out. She doesn’t realize that she is already losing out – with you. Like any addiction, your wife may need professional help to stop. In the meantime, insist that she shut off the computer at a specified time each day. Plan dates that will interest her enough to get out of the house. She needs to get back into the real world.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column.

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