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DH computer gaming is destroying our family

(57 Posts)
noadditives Fri 17-Jun-11 15:58:51

Hi everyone, I need some advice and an outside opinion. Sorry - this will be long...

We're a young (and growing) family with an 8 year old DD and expecting a second child. I have graduated from university a year ago, and was going to look for my first job, however with number two being on the way, this won't be practical for some time now. I am therefore a stay-at-home mum, by circumstances rather than choice.

The problem is my husband (in his thirties) is a computer games addict. He was always into computer games - since his teens - and this often caused an argument between us, but recently, with role-playing games which encourage participation 24/7, it got depressingly worse. He plays hours
on end (often over 5 hours in one go, but sometimes over 10 hours), totally ignores my and DD's needs, skips meals, suffers from sleep deprivation, and is consistently late for work. Any activity that takes us away from home, and the internet, is a big irritation and an obstacle to his success in the game, which is the top priority for him right now. He blames me for 'making him' go to the supermarket and buy groceries for us (we don't drive and I can't carry much, being pregnant). He insists I login to the game and make some actions on his behalf whilst he's at work and he gets upset when I refuse to do so. He really gets seriously profoundly upset that I'm 'letting him down' (this just shows how serious and depressingly real it is for him). He went to bed at 3am the other night and woke me up to tell that his village was raided by Romans. He's known to fall asleep in somebody else's home in the middle of a family visit because of sleep deprivation, and he carries his laptop with him wherever he can. He is abusive to me and DD because we sometimes dare to distract him from his gaming with family chores, and he then openly blames us for any failures in the game that result from him being involved in family activities and away from the game.

I have confronted him a great number of times about this, and done so in no unclear terms. He apologised repeatedly and promised to get better. He keeps his word for a day or two, and then it's all back to his pathological state. His current excuse is that he will delete the game and will stop playing when baby number two is born.

I am scared to leave my DH at home even for a day if he's not at work! I know that without me in the house he will be playing non-stop until I come back (whenever that is!)

I would love to change the way things are, and for my husband to come back to our family. He's just not with us anymore. I would like him to wake up to the fact that this is not normal, and he needs to change, for his own sake and for the sake of our family. But he wouldn't admit there's a problem. He says this is the way he gets some rest and it's good fun. He doesn't let me talk to anybody about it. And who would I talk to if we never socialise? (We moved for DH's work a year ago so don't have a lot of friends at the new place). My parents are far away and I wouldn't want them to be worried when there's nothing they can do to help. His parents are very protective of their son, and I fear that if I bring it up with them they will be on his side, just like they always were, irrespective of the where the problem lies.

Should I raise it as abusive behavior with some women support organisation (don't really know who or how)? Would they be able to help? - given that he's not keen to accept any help himself at present?!

Any help or advice appreciated. Will also be glad to hear from gamers who could perhaps suggest strategies of how to cut down on gaming to reasonable levels.

Thank you all who read it to the end.

OP’s posts: |
Mabelface Fri 17-Jun-11 16:01:08

Would this be useful?

dangalf Fri 17-Jun-11 16:02:17

Sorry to hear this OP. It seems like he's truly addicted to the game. Certainly if it impacts on work, relationships, looking after children and even eating then it's got pretty bad. I think you probably need to issue an ultimatum here as he is not going to change without a pretty big push. It's not fair on you to have to do everything and I think it is a bad example to be setting to his children. Sure someone else will be able to give you more thorough advice. Good luck and I hope he comes to his senses.

thisisyesterday Fri 17-Jun-11 16:03:54

well.... i have to admit that if i were in your place i would be giving him a serious ultimatum. his family, or his game. there is no way i could live with someone like that.

or, you could take serious action and trash the computer/cancel broadband and make him go cold turkey

i think he really, really needs to see how serious this is though and how much it is affecting you.
i know, to a lesser extent, how addictive these things can be and how it can be much easier to "live" through games and the internet than to deal with real life. it is why i need to limit my computer time and force myself not to get too into things.

BornSicky Fri 17-Jun-11 16:09:46

is it a paid for MMORPG? If so, you need to find out how much his account is worth and get him to put it up for sale asap.

If it's not an MMORPG, then just get him to give you the passwords and then change them, thus locking him out.

It is and can be highly addictive. I became a game moderator to stop me playing and only mod a set number of hours a week. that might also be an option.

Glowbuggy Fri 17-Jun-11 16:14:48

The game needs to stop NOW.

This is no life, for you or for him and it is not normal. It will take some time but for sure you can get it back on track.

If his answer is no then you have to leave. Sounds like you'd be better off anyway as right now he sounds like a complete loser/jerk/immature teenager.

QueenofDreams Fri 17-Jun-11 16:15:27

Well I enjoy playing an MMORPG. But it sounds as though he really is putting gaming before his family. I don't know what the answer is though. DP can lose track of time when he plays and end up playing a 5 hour stretch, but he doesn't do this often, and actually hasn't played for a while now.

Changing his passwords sounds like an idea, but I would be worried about the fact that he is abusive if you detract from his game. I think you may have to follow advice generally given to partners of alcoholics on this board to be honest. He has to WANT to give up. It doesn't sound like he does want that. In fact it sounds as though he's happy for his entire life to go down the pan as long as his village isn't invaded by Romans.

Cupawoman Fri 17-Jun-11 16:35:23

I'm posting this on behalf of my son who says the following:

The TribalWars Guide to Quitting (in the thread, 'TW' simply refers to the game itself)

I'm 99% sure of the game the's playing (is it called Travian?) and the link to the game I posted is extremely similar in many respects - I know this having played both games myself and becoming quite addicted in the process. Therefore, if he won't, or can't quit for any other reason, then the guide above should be very effective if followed correctly.

You should know that the people who become as absorbed into these games as your husband generally realise that they are addicted and need to stop - they just feel that they can't. They openly post on the forums that they want to leave and simply feel they can't, which is why the above guide was created.

Anyway, I hope it helps.

oldwomaninashoe Fri 17-Jun-11 16:44:15

I think you need to walk out on him, (it needn't be permanant) go without telling him and leave a note saying you will come back when he stops.

He needs shocking into stopping

mumblechum1 Fri 17-Jun-11 16:47:19

There have been loads of threads about gaming addiction, but on the Teenagers thread.

It's pretty odd that a man in his thirties would take gaming to these lengths.

The advice for children/teens is to put parental controls limiting the time allowed. My ds was a bit addicted to WOW for a couple of months, but putting parental controls weaned him off and he doesn't play any MMORGS or whatever the hell they're called.

Your dh needs to get a short sharp shock - either he agrees to you putting parental controls on, limiting him to maybe 5 hours a week, or he cancels his subscription altogether, or you split up.

BornSicky Fri 17-Jun-11 17:16:47

gamer meltdown...

schmarn Fri 17-Jun-11 17:22:54

It's an addiction no less serious than alcoholism. He has lost sight of what is normal and while he probably realises that he needs to stop, he is unable to do so. He needs to accept he has an addiction (has he admitted this to you) and seek counselling now otherwise your marriage is finished.

AmyStake Fri 17-Jun-11 18:08:03

I used to be addicted to an MMORPG. "I'll quit when DC2 is born" won't happen. He'll use the computer more to escape from DC2. Then it'll be "I'll quit when after x" or "I'm not going to quit because you want me to". There will always be an excuse.

I can't speak for your husband but for me MMORPG addiction was my way of escaping from my real life and my responsibilities. I wasted so much damn time, energy and money on that game. I look back now and feel pretty stupid sad.

What game is it he's playing, if you don't mind me asking? I've gleaned it's not WoW thankfully! grin

BornSicky Fri 17-Jun-11 18:14:42

agreed amy. i sold my account for a lot of money and was surprised to find after i deducted what i spent building it, i'd just about broken even.

ah well. glad blogging is free and having a baby so time consuming!

FlubbaBubba Fri 17-Jun-11 18:37:47

cupawoman's Ds has good advice, but essentially only if the OP's DH wants to give up.

The following advice is for him to cut back (rather than stop) as it seems likely this is a halfway step in the right direction at least)

What game is it? If it is TW or Travian, or some such, (I am currently playing the latter and am hooked, though not addicted blush). He could, if playing Travian, for example, play on a slower server (battles can't happen as quickly, so the need to be on and checking is lessened), and play with a 'dual' (i.e. he and another or several players all play one account - which means they can take it in turns to be online). That would mean that he could state the time he was going to be online (e.g. 8-11pm and then again 6-7am or whatever works for you). Both of these might be more acceptable to your DH rather than going cold turkey and stopping altogether (not saying he shouldn't try, but am being realistic here).

You could try writing down the steps in the TW guide to quitting on his behalf and showing him. He may genuinely not realise the impact the game is having on him/his life and you/your life.


mumblechum1 Fri 17-Jun-11 19:06:09

<<feels slightly worried that first thing I do every morning is log into MN>>blush

bibbitybobbityhat Fri 17-Jun-11 19:10:30

You can't make him give up and he has proven that he can't give up on his own without support.

He is addicted in the same way that people get addicted to drugs, gambling, alcohol, porn.

Does he accept this?

Surely there are specialist organisations that can help with computer games addiction?

CelebratedMonkey Fri 17-Jun-11 19:31:58

It's an addiction.

I've been addicted to an MMORPG and tried to quit several times. Quitting was tough because while I knew I was spending too much time in the game, I did enjoy it and had social ties - it surprised me how much of a shock to the system it was to stop.

In the end, I stopped when I got pregnant (I'd partly got into it so much over feeling crap about ttc and not conceiving) - it was a trailing off more than a cold turkey thing for me.

But from the sounds of it your husband does need cold turkey, he won't naturally slow down. So long as he wants to do this, it's achievable. I really hope he does. You've already got a kid and another on the way - if I was you I would see it as a dealbreaker if he didn't want to stop.

I regret the time I wasted playing an online game. If I'd been able to keep it 'casual' it would've been fine, but they're designed to keep you in the game and it's easy to fall into the trap of playing too much. And if you're at a time in your life when escape is alluring, it's hard to resist. So I understand him, but I don't excuse it.

AmyStake Fri 17-Jun-11 19:55:02

Same here Celebrated. It is hard, so hard. It was only when I finally stopped burying my head in the sand about why I was avoiding life and took action to right what was wrong that it all clicked. I'd told myself for years that I wasn't addicted and that I was a hardcore gamer (sorry, I hate that phrase myself!).

I must have played that game for 6 hours every day on a weekday and 10-12 hours on Saturday and Sunday. That's 54 hours a week. That's more hours than I worked. Absolutely insane.

Does he have a social life through the game? Thats another thing I felt, like I was letting my guild mates down, and we were really good friends. But once I quit the game I realised we weren't friends, all we had in common was the game.

I think you need to somehow make him realise himself that yes he is addicted and it's having a detrimental effect on your family. Maybe you could keep a diary for a week of how long he's been playing the game and show it to him at the end?

AmyStake Fri 17-Jun-11 19:57:25

OK I just re-read your OP and noticed he's consistently late for work because of the game. I think his addiction is a bit more serious than I thought sad.

Does he always take the laptop with him whenever you go anywhere? Is he the only one that uses it?

america Fri 17-Jun-11 20:47:31

My X had serious issues with WoW and spent a fortune on it. He wasn't there for us when DC were born, and when they were tiny he said things like "you go to bed, I will bring DC1/2 to you for a feed. I don't mind staying up a bit to play", this meant that he didn't go to bed at all because he wanted to play and didn't want us to disturb him. I felt that part of the reason we split up was that he started living in the virtual world more than he did in the real world, he didn't go out anymore, didn't keep in touch with his friends, only spoke to the other guys he played WoW with and was very irritable when we needed something from him. I still don't know how much he spent on the game but it must have been thousands.
Please don't do what I did = don't just try to ignore it. This will only get worse, you need him to keep his job, not to spent all your money and time on something that doesn't really exist, and generally he has to be there as your partner and father to the children.
I hope that he will understand the difference between RL and the virtual world. I second, keeping a diary might be a good idea.

Itchywoolyjumper Fri 17-Jun-11 21:21:25

It does sound like he's playing Travian. Its played on servers which limit the length of any one game to a certain time frame, usually a number of months. There's alot of good advice on this thread but the game becomes a lot more intense in the last few weeks of a server and if this is where he is its going to be a lot harder to talk any sense into him, it might be easier to wait (if you can) until he's at the begining of a new server.
However, there's really no excuse for your DH to be behaving like a 14 yo. He knows it too, seeing as he doesn't want you to talk to anyone about it. Can you tell anyone in real life? Some one else pointing out that this really isn't aceptable behaviour for the breadwinner of a family might help.

cobbsie Fri 17-Jun-11 21:47:38

all lead to the same thing

theyre balance..and used with compromise particularly when in a relationship. In moderation they become a nice touch to life and can enhance all sorts of aspects of your life especially if you occasionally play together (not a lot dfferent than someone playing scrable regularly or cards). Gaming keeps you active mentally (to a point) and can be a boredom reliever as a great interactive alternative to tv when theres nothing on worth watching.

Its when the online life becomes bigger and more all encompassing than the real life that problems cree in and then become entrenched and addiction can definitely set in. Asking you to log on to his account to complete certain tasks suggests that he may have the balance wrong and not have a good sense of self perspective.

Is he compulsive in other areas of life and show addictive behaviours? For instance pre gaming did he get a project and find it difficult to stop until he'd done what he needed to? Or did he have all enompassing hobbies? In which case online stuff might well just be an extension of his core personailty. Maybe he needs some strategies for managing and containing that level of compulsion/addiction as if he stops gaming he may just transfer the urge.

Does he use online time as a distraction from his ordinary life? Is he avoiding something? If so that might be worth a little counselling or discussion.

I have an OH who does both...addictive/compulsive personailty and very low self worth so much so he has withdrawn from social contacts outside of the relationship or the online world. He moves from immersing himself in one game then obsesses on one forum til he gets bored and then moves onto something else.

I used to play with him and enjoy forums and surfing and gaming to a degree but I like life too and tend to only do computer stuff in the evenings as an alternative to tv on and off. Now I have withdrawn from his online world and actually its damned lonely in the relationship as he's mentally and emotionally in the virtual world more than he is in the real world. I empathise hugely with you and urge you to perhaps spend some time talking to someone or counsellor/advisor to start exploring how you can move both of you forward into a compromise in your relationship as at the moment it sounds like you're living the relationship through his desires and becomming at the mercy of compulsive/addicted behavior with regard to computer life.

nomedoit Fri 17-Jun-11 22:35:09

I have experience of addiction and I would say...
1. He is addicted, pure and simple
2. You can't control his gaming
3. He can't control his gaming
There is no way he is going to be able to "cut down" or limit his gaming. That is like going into a bar and telling an alcoholic just to drink half the beer in his glass. He's addicted. He literally can't cut down. Try to see him as someone who is being controlled by this game, not the other way round.
You have to set a boundary instead. "DH, if you continue to game, the following will happen..."
Then you have to follow through. It's tough love for him and for your family.

SpringchickenGoldBrass Fri 17-Jun-11 22:50:42

You can't make him stop. You can't change another person's behaviour against that person's wishes. No matter what you do, he may continue to play his game because he wants to. What you can do is decide whether or not you are prepared to put up with his behaviour until he decides to change.
I would suggest you do the relevant research, find out what benefits you would be entitled to and how much he would have to pay in child support if you separate. Find out (if you don't already know) about the family home ie whose name it's in. Get all the information about what you would be entitled to if you separate - information is power, you need to know this stuff. Then you sit him down and tell him that unless he stops playing this game and starts contributing properly to family life, you are ending the relationship and want him to leave the family home/you will be leaving the home with the DC.
Unfortunately, if he refuses to leave the family home it may be a time-consuming process to force him out legally unless he's violent but it can be done.

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