Yesterday, on The Generous Wife, Lori wrote a great post about the value of getting to know more about the parts of your husband’s life you don’t share. She recommended listening, asking questions, and learning a new shared vocabulary. She gave the example of her husband’s fascination with zombies.
One of the commenters, Lisa, asked a question so many of us have asked at some point in our marriages. Her husband is unemployed and playing lots of online games. She asked, “Why would I want to learn about his newest online game if it’s all he does? It’s stealing his time away from his family.”
I ached for Lisa. It is such an awful place to be, wanting more and feeling like she’s enabling his harm to the marriage and their children if she follows Lori’s great advice. Just in case you missed it, I thought I should reprint my comment there, in case you are walking in Lisa’s shoes.
Great article, Lori! To answer Lisa’s question, you might want to do it because men are biologically different from us women. To them, for reasons that have to do with different hormone levels, the foundation of a relationship is respect. There can be no relationship with someone who does not respect you as a person.
Unemployed, he’s surely concerned about how much respect anyone has for him, especially you. Avoiding you avoids discovering his marriage has died.
If you express interest in his gaming, it also keeps you from focusing on your belief that he’s “stealing his time away from his family,” which surely gets in the way of showing your respect for him. He is more than his income. There are so many other things to respect about him.
Feeling your respect again is likely to relieve a good bit of the anxiety he surely uses gaming to deal with (unless this is a full-blown addiction out of his control — and yours). It might even free up some productive time for looking for work, and it will surely give him more self-confidence to face the possible rejection.
You cannot rebuild your relationship with scorn. You cannot win more of his time with scorn. And you cannot come up with more income or more Daddy time for your kids by ending your marriage. So why not try talking about the games?
(Sorry, Lori, for hijacking your comments thread, but I made this mistake 25 years ago and feel an overwhelming urge to hang on tight to anyone headed for the same cliff.)
Lori forgave me and encouraged Lisa “to join in on the gaming ‘to a healthy degree.'” Great advice!