For years, football on television was a traditional source of conflict between many couples, with tales of spouses battling for the TV for attention. Today, a relatively new form of entertainment has taken over—online gaming.
Those young boys and girls who were the first generation to spend their childhoods immersed in the virtual reality of video games have now grown up and entered into romantic relationships. So how have modern marriages coped with this development?
While it is now commonplace for adults to spend hours playing computer games, when does a hobby become an obsession, and what sort of friction can that cause in a marriage?
Online gaming can make communication difficult between couples
Spouses can find it a challenge to communicate when a partner is sucked into the vortex of online gaming, and this may leave them feeling neglected.
Having a significant other who seems to be operating on auto-pilot for much of the time can produce feelings of loneliness and create distance between both parties.
And when a partner prioritises gaming over their relationship and any shared responsibilities, this will unsurprisingly impact on self-esteem.
How has gaming affected relationships?
A survey from Graysons Solicitors found that one in eight couples in the UK argue over computer games. Discounting those who do not play computer games, one in 15 said the issue was having a serious effect on their relationship.
This research follows news that Fortnite and other online games had been named as contributing to around 5% of divorces in the UK last year.
Does your partner have a gaming addiction?
Although this situation can be very frustrating, there could be a chance that it is a symptom of something slightly more concerning; your partner could be suffering from gaming disorder. The World Health Organization recently recognised the issue as a mental-health condition in 2018 and found that 3.5% of gamers are reportedly prone to the symptoms. These include an uncontrollable and persistent urge to play games, which can cause sufferers to develop a distorted view of reality and leave them emotionally detached.
The condition is also linked to internet addiction, which affects nearly 6% of the global population, according to a study. It’s often connected to depression, anxiety and substance abuse, and people with pre-existing mental-health issues may be more vulnerable to online addiction.
Knowing that your partner suffers from a gaming disorder means identifying symptoms such as defensiveness, agitation and feelings of guilt, as well as physical problems such as disturbed sleep and weight gain.
How can you help your partner?
If you suspect your spouse suffers from either of these addictions, don’t worry—there are several ways you can help.
Beginning this process means having an honest conversation—without getting angry—about how their behavior is affecting you. They may feel like you’re attacking them, and this may leave them hesitant to open up. However, it is important to remain calm. Let them know they have your support and love.
To mend any damage that addiction has caused to your marriage, your partner will first need to accept they have a problem.
Once they do, medical advice should be sought. There are several treatment options available, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), support groups and developing coping strategies. Ultimately, your partner can only help mend your relationship if they are willing to make the change.