We all need to decompress and unwind after a long day. But what happens when a pastime infringes on home life and becomes problematic?

We asked AW101 readers if their spouses gamed and how they felt about it. Some were simply accepting of it, and others not only gamed with their spouses but also bragged about being better at it. These couples have found a shared interest or have struck a balance.

For other milspouses, gaming has taken over. Some shared:

  • I hate it because he loses himself in the game and won’t help around the house.”
  • “[He plays] CONSTANTLY. Pretty irritating sometimes.”
  • “It makes me mad as h*ll because he ignores me for the game.”

When Is Gaming a Problem?

The number one complaint was that when their spouses chose to game, they neglected family time and home responsibilities. Katie shares, He’s better now but he used to play 10-15 hours a day on his off days and every moment he could on work days. Sometimes only getting a couple hours of sleep. He recognized that it was getting out of control.”

Tori shares, “My husband plays for a minimum of 7 hours a day, completely ignores me, and has allowed it to become a part of every part of our life. He has a texting app to talk to his Xbox guys when he’s not playing. He comes home from work and plays until he goes to bed. I’m about to smash the d*mn thing into pieces. I’m lucky if he plays for just 7 hours a day.”

Chelsea explains, “He gets carried away with it for hours, doesn’t pay attention to anything else, and hates playing split screen so I can’t play either. When we played together before having our son I didn’t hate it so much.”

Kayla describes, “I don’t mind unless he gets carried away. Sometimes he goes all day long for a whole weekend and when I ask him to go outside and play with us he gets upset. That’s when I have to put my foot down.”

How to Hit Reset

Video games themselves aren’t bad, but when they take over, it creates immense friction in relationships.

With some communications, boundaries, and adjustments, a happy medium can be reached. Here are some tips and tricks if your spouse’s gaming habit is getting the better of your relationship.

  • Do something for yourself. Ensure that you are getting just as much time to yourself to decompress. If you aren’t able to do it during the gaming session, communicate with your spouse and make sure time is set aside for you. Crystal shares, “My husband and our 10-year-old daughter are gamers and I’m a reader. We sit together while he plays and I read.”
  • Set appropriate boundaries. Communicate to your spouse about the value of spending time with you and your children. Gaming windows can be easily created, but make sure that needs and priorities are met first. Jackie shares, “To ensure that my children were given attention and not exposed to violent shooter games, my husband agreed to only play during nap and bedtime with headphones on. He could unwind and I enjoyed the silence once the little ones were down.”
  • Make it a family affair. Gaming doesn’t always have to be an isolated hobby, and many spouses shared that the entire family could connect through them. Lori shares, “We both play video games. Not excessively but the same game. Purchased enough stuff so we (teens, kids) could play at the same time.”
  • Understand his need for socialization. With frequent military moves, this may be a way for your spouse to stay in contact with family or battle buddies, no matter the distance. Jessica’s husband plays online with his brother. “[He] lives in Australia, so it’s a way for them to talk for free while doing something together.”
  • Put things into perspective. Some spouses were okay with gaming because they felt it was a healthy outlet, as compared to other options. Tiffany explains, “I’d rather have him sitting at home playing video games and drinking a few beers till all hours, instead of him at a bar till all hours.”
  • Communicate to reach an agreement. Ashley shares that she and her husband have set times to game. Kate’s husband only plays while deployed. Kayla’s husband limits gameplay to the morning so that she can sleep in, which she calls a win-win.
  • Exhibit mutual respect. By communicating respectfully about his desire to game and your need for his time/help, understandings can be reached. Veronica shares, “When it’s ‘family time’ or ‘quality time’ he doesn’t nag to play them. He doesn’t obsess over them either, he is very good with it if I need something. He’ll ask ‘Can I finish this first’ or he’ll pause the game! And sometimes I even tag along with him!”
  • Find activities you can do together. If quality time is desired, look into other hobbies like board games, sports, a TV show you both enjoy, or take regular walks together. Amy shares, “We both enjoy time outdoors and play board games together and with friends.”
  • If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. If you haven’t tried gaming, give it a whirl! Pick out something you would enjoy and communicate with your spouse about setting boundaries. Martha describes gaming as a “Great date night in.” Melissa says that she and her husband both laugh over how bad she is at gaming. It is possible that it can be a positive shared experience.

Thoughts from Milspouse Gamers

Several milspouses shared that they loved gaming and that they were even better at it than their husbands!

Amanda and her husband met through gaming and the couple still plays World of Warcraft together. She shares, “Sometimes when we are feeling bored and uninspired we look for new games to play together. There are some he likes that I can’t be bothered with and vice versa. At the end of the day, he always puts me and our relationship first and that’s what really matters!”

Thelma plays Skyrim with her husband and she is currently 10 levels above him. “He is always trying to catch up,” she shares. Her golden advice? “Just know the years to come will be better if you don’t kill him first!”




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A self-described “Jackie of All Trades,” former Army wife Jackie Toops enjoys exploring the various facets of her personality by chronicling military life, world travels, family, her love of the arts and more. Her academic background is in the fields of Interdisciplinary Humanities, Museum Studies and Nonprofit Management, and she has overseen public relations for museums, galleries and universities. Jackie’s articles have been featured on Army Wife 101, Wall Street International Magazine, SoFluential, HomeAway, Military Biz Connection and FamiliesGo. While stationed in Germany, she regularly discussed her articles on-air with the Armed Forces Network in Wiesbaden. A mother of two, Jackie enjoys coffee, freelance writing, languages and discovering new ways to express herself. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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