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My Spouse Has An Addiction

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Help! My husband is addicted to video games, playing for hours on end while neglecting our family.

Dear Dr. Bill: My husband and I are Christians and we’ve been married for a year and half. We’re expecting our first child in a few months. I am concerned about his fascination with computer games — especially the ones that involve a lot of battles and war.

Every night when he comes home from work, he goes straight to the computer and will play these games until 1 or 2 a.m. — with a short break for supper. I know men like games like these and that he needs to “unwind” from his workday — but instead of relaxing, he often ends up in a bad mood.

I’ve tried talking to him about the amount of time he spends gaming but he doesn’t seem to care. And I’ll admit that I feel cheated since I don’t get to spend much time with him during the day. But now that the birth of our child is approaching, I’m getting worried that I and our child will end up being 2nd place to a computer game. I’ve also prayed about this — but I’m discouraged because his behavior hasn’t changed one bit. What do you suggest I do?

Here at Focus on the Family we’ve begun to receive more and more calls about video game addiction in recent years. It’s become a real problem in many families, and obviously it’s impacting yours.

Most people consider addiction to be related to substances like drugs or alcohol. But in reality, addiction can consist of anything that becomes such a priority to a person that he or she is willing to neglect friends, family, faith, responsibilities and even their physical health in order to pursue that priority. Electronic games have the potential for this sort of behavioral addiction.

It may sound extreme, but given your description, your husband may require a formal intervention, such as the type used in dealing with an alcoholic. I’d suggest you consult with a licensed Christian counselor in your area, one who has experience in dealing with addictive behavior.

It’s likely that the counselor will enlist the help of your pastor or some of your husband’s friends or family members. The counselor will coordinate a time when a group of you will sit down with your husband and lovingly confront him about his behavior.

In a best case scenario, your husband will admit he has a problem and be willing to get help for his addiction. But there is also the possibility that he will react defensively and deny that there’s anything wrong with his behavior. In that case you’ll need to make some tough choices about what to do next. Regardless of what course of action you decide to follow, you’ll need the support of friends, family, and your pastor or a caring therapist.

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If you or someone you know needs marital help, Focus on the Family has resources and counseling to assist. You can contact us Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Mountain time) at: 800-A-FAMILY (232-6459) or [email protected].

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