How Video Games Impact Marriage and Divorce

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For millions of people, across age groups, video games provide a key way to kill time and decompress from the pressures and hardships of daily life.

But what happens when it crosses a line from escape to addiction? This often has a substantial impact on personal relationships. It also affects marriages and even divorces.

How Can Video Games Impact Divorce?

Like any obsession, this carries a high cost. Video game addiction has a profound detrimental effect on marriages. One study notes that gaming even plays a role in an increasingly large number of divorces.

According to Divorce Online, men playing video games is cited as at least a partial cause in 15% of divorce cases.

Video Games By the Numbers

Video games have become a major part of our daily routines. 2019 findings from the Entertainment Software Association note that:

    • 65% of American adults play video games.
    • 75% of American homes own some type of gaming device.
    • 72% of gamers are over 18 years old, and the average age is 33.
    • 46% of gamers are women, 54% men.
    • 57% of parents play video games with their children on a weekly basis.
    • 74% of parents say these activities have a positive influence on the kids.

Does Gaming Cause Divorce?

Gaming frequently serves as a social outlet.

According to the ESA report, 63% of hardcore gamers say they play with other people online. It’s not uncommon for individuals to regularly play with the same group, even though they live far apart.

In many cases, this offers a healthy, constructive outlet. It’s when it crosses the line that it becomes an issue. In severe cases, video game addiction damages relationships and even leads to divorce.

Spending every free moment in a deep-dive video game frequently creates friction between gamers and non-gaming spouses who don’t share the same appreciation for this activity.

Increasingly, games create in-depth, rightly detailed worlds in which to immerse yourself. You can log on, suit up, and forget your real-world cares for a while. Fighting orcs or heroically battling bad guys is likely much more exciting than what you do at work all day.

But too often, this momentary escape takes over and distracts from real-world concerns.

Essentially, you start living in an alternate world that’s not your marriage. It’s easy to imagine problems arising and conflict beginning to brew.

Related Reading: Alcohol Abuse and Divorce Rates

Potential Problems With Video Games in Marriage

In some instances, gaming may be a reaction to things not going well in a marriage.

Virtual social interaction often serves as a surrogate for face-to-face human connection. People choose this digital world as a way to put off dealing with an unpleasant reality. This also happens often with social media.

But excessive video game play can also intensify already existing tensions.

Gaming addiction often shines a focused light on specific issues, but it may also become an issue itself. It may be symptomatic of larger problems you don’t want to confront.  Either way, it has the potential to cause major damage to your relationship and marriage.

It’s not only the in-depth online games that cause strife.

Even less immersive titles, like the ones you play on Facebook or your smartphone, frequently have a negative influence. They appear deceptively casual and laid back, but often demand as much attention and focus as others.

Related Reading: Child Custody and Marijuana

Game Together, Stay Together

Excessive video game play leads to less time spent together, disrupts routines, and generally throws a monkey wrench into a marriage in many cases. At least in marriages where only one spouse games. Or sometimes even where spouses play different games.

While many couples have one spouse who puts more time and energy into their game than the marriage, that’s not every case.

Many couples game together, with constructive results.

A study from Brigham Young University found that, “For couples in which both spouses play, 76 percent said that gaming has a positive effect on their marital relationship.”

Those who responded to the survey even noted online interaction even leads to “higher marital satisfaction.”

At least among those who game in tandem. Relating within a game often carries similar benefits as interacting in person. However, it can still cause problems when one spouse plays substantially more than the other.

So, if you absolutely must play a video game, consider involving your spouse. The research indicates couples who game together have a higher likelihood of remaining together than those who don’t.

This may provide some much-needed common ground and lower your risk of divorce. As always, every case is different. Many marriages where only one spouse is a diehard gamer wind up perfectly happy.

Still, if nothing else, consider how your video game obsession impacts the flesh-and-blood relationships around you. That will only have a positive impact.

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