ExGamer.net's Marriage Rehab Guide For Gamers

This forum is for those of you who are in the middle of or have successfuly beat the addiction. Whether your addiction was gaming, smoking, eating, etc. you are welcome to use this forum to help you get through it or share your story of how you got through it!

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ExGamer.net's Marriage Rehab Guide For Gamers

Postby exgamerdotnet on Fri Jan 23, 2009 3:01 pm

From my blog: http://exgamer.net/blog/?p=948

MMORPG addiction is a marriage killer. After fielding dozens of inquiries in person, on the phone and by email over the past year, I’d like to talk about the stages an MMORPG marriage goes through, and how an addicted husband can get his act together and save his relationship.

Accommodation:

This is every hardcore gamer’s dream. We were married in July, 1999 and by then I was playing Quake 2 online 4-6 hours per day on my work laptop. We bought a new PC and got connected to broadband quite early in our marriage.

My wife grew up in Africa, so she had no exposure to the video game consoles - the original Atari and Mattel Intellivision - that defined my leisure team in the early 80’s. As my gaming began to deepen, I was hiding my spending and my wife was unsure whether my visible behaviour was just ‘normal’ for a newly married Canadian male. She gave me room to pursue my gaming and even showed a passive interest in my ‘hobby.’ Then it became apparent that I couldn’t hold up my end of the marriage…

Mother-Child:

Problems began to emerge. I got into Anarchy Online, my first MMORPG, and began to lose sleep, gain weight and ‘forget’ to bathe and complete even the most basic household chores. At this stage, if I’d been listening, I would have heard my wife’s frustration and desire for emotional intimacy, but I was too busy feeding my unquenchable appetite for in-game excitement.

I’m ashamed to admit that my wife carried our marriage on her back for years, shouldering the physical and emotional burdens of household management and my psychiatric problems and addictions. I became an emotionally impotent man-child, incapable or unwilling to take ownership of my life and responsibilities.

Warden-Prisoner:

As this went on unchecked, resentments grew and trust was lost. This is fertile ground for separation and divorce in any marriage. When I finally hit rock bottom in December, 2007, my pattern of taking my wife for granted had bordered on emotional abuse. She felt like a warden, forced to constantly monitor the activities of a prisoner rather than enjoying the company of a trusted life partner.

How To Start Recovery:

My father-in-law said it best: honesty, honesty, honesty! There is no substitute for working your own recovery and demonstrating that through daily actions and a renewed vision for your life. But how do you get started?

Someone asked me about getting his wife to set up parental controls on his computer to keep him from accessing games or game-related web sites. Don’t you dare place that burden on your wife’s shoulders! If you need someone to help stay away from gaming or porn sites on the Internet, call your Pastor or Priest, or get a Sponsor through a 12-step addiction fellowship. Maybe you’ve got a morally upright friend who will take this seriously and help you.

If you need a list of content filtering/accountability resources or other assistance, please email me: exgamer@exgamer.net

Why not ask your wife to help you with parent controls or content filtering? Simple, really. She’s already been cleaning up after the consequences of your gaming for a long time. Is it fair to ask her to be your accountability partner? When you’re ready to quit, she should come home from work one day to see you with a bag full of broken CD’s, a clean hard drive and a dozen roses.

After that first painful conversation where you come clean about the full extent of your gaming and express your desire to stop gaming compulsively - with a plan - comes the months of hard work - and let me just say I’m still in this process - that will begin the process of healing your marriage. You must be willing to be honest with yourself and fight on through relapse and heartache.

Things To Remember From Personal Experience:

1. You will not regain your wife’s respect and trust overnight. It took me 8 or 9 years to mess things up, and it will take time to win her affections again.

2. Good counselling is crucial. Try to find someone in the community who is open to understanding this issue in individual and couples therapy.

3. Deal with the underlying issues. We know from our experience with compulsive gaming that there are addictive design elements in MMORPG’s, and these have caused us some serious problems. However, if I don’t accept responsibility for my behaviour and my recovery, I’ll never grow and improve my life.

Disclaimer:

I hope my experience and opinions are helpful. Addictive gaming is complex and more widespread than many of us realize. However, my advice should not be taken as a substitute for solid, professional counselling by an addictions recovery therapist or psychiatrist.
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Re: ExGamer.net's Marriage Rehab Guide For Gamers

Postby Neglected on Fri Jan 23, 2009 11:03 pm

Thank you Brad. :) Perfect council and wisdom.

I'm not sure about others on here, but I will admit that I don't get to your site/blog very often. So thank you for taking the time and posting it here.
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Re: ExGamer.net's Marriage Rehab Guide For Gamers

Postby exgamerdotnet on Fri Jan 23, 2009 11:08 pm

I appreciate the feedback. That's okay. We're all busy, and neither of us has the time to spend on the other's project. The blog is taking off nicely with 700-1000 unique hits per week.
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Re: ExGamer.net's Marriage Rehab Guide For Gamers

Postby Neglected on Fri Jan 23, 2009 11:12 pm

Speaking of projects, I have one in the works as well. I might drop you a PM or email and see what you think about the Canada market for it.

I know you are busy too, so just let me know when you have some time.

Thanks ^^
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Re: ExGamer.net's Marriage Rehab Guide For Gamers

Postby exgamerdotnet on Fri Jan 23, 2009 11:53 pm

Email me about what you're doing:

exgamer@exgamer.net

I'm starting my book and am doing public speaking engagements as well as running the blog and working on OLGA projects. I just need someone to find some money for me to to all this!

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Re: ExGamer.net's Marriage Rehab Guide For Gamers

Postby newlywedwidow on Fri Jan 23, 2009 11:55 pm

That was really good Brad. I am glad that you keep coming back here and helping us when you get a spare moment. I think you are really helpful.
I am worth it and so are you! Remember...It's not how many breaths you take. It's how many moments take your breath away!
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Re: ExGamer.net's Marriage Rehab Guide For Gamers

Postby texastwinmom on Thu Apr 09, 2009 1:21 pm

Your insight is wonderful! My husband is a gamer addicted to WOW and I'm about to ask for a separation. What was it that made you realize that gaming was a problem and effecting your marriage? Is there anything I can do to help my husband realize there is a problem besides leaving? I appreciate any advice you could offer. I've been seeing a counselor alone, but advice from someone who has been there would be priceless.

Thanks!
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Re: ExGamer.net's Marriage Rehab Guide For Gamers

Postby chibichan on Wed Apr 22, 2009 1:30 pm

Thank you for this guide, Brad. I think it's also applicable to other types of problems that arise in relationships.

texastwinmom - I haven't been in this situation, so I think you should take the veterans' advice over mine... However, I think it might be helpful if someone objective to the situation that your husband trusts & respects - like his parent, or sibling, a best friend, or pastor, etc - could help by voicing concerns about how his gaming is affecting your relationship. I know that sometimes couples can reach a point where nobody sees anything clearly or rationally... so someone from the outside might help him realize it's a real problem and he has to deal with it. I think that's also what comes out of couples counseling, although I get the impression that the same advice from a counselor can be more often disregarded than from a trusted friend. Also, some people are unwilling to take counseling seriously. I think it might be the next step after he realizes there is a problem. I guess the first obstacle is whether he will get defensive or simply deny that he have a problem. (Which I assume has been the case, since I'm sure you've tried to tell him many times) Hopefully the fact that other people see things from your point of view will help him come around. Best of luck...
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