Dear Salma: My husband is addicted to video games

Dear Salma,

Ever since we got married four years ago, my husband and I have had a rocky relationship.   We have two toddlers and I work full-time, while he is a stay-at-home dad. Two years ago, he began playing a certain video game in his downtime and since then, it has spiraled into an obsession. As soon as the children are in bed in the evening, he begins playing his game and remains glued to it until 3 or 4 a.m., chatting and strategizing with other online players.

Daily prayers, friends, and even his time with me have all fallen by the wayside. I encourage him to return to the workforce so I can begin working part-time and spend more time at home with our children, but when I mention scaling back the hours he devotes to his video game, he lashes out, saying it is only a hobby. He reassures me that once he reaches a certain level in the game, he will cut back on the number of hours he plays, but I no longer believe him. I have indulged his obsession for two years now and I am at my wit’s end. What should I do?



Dear Exhausted,

It sounds like your husband may have developed an addiction to this game. It can certainly be extremely frustrating and exhausting to see someone neglecting work and family responsibilities because they are obsessed with reaching a certain level in a game. Two years is a long time to wait.

Generally, the addicted person, regardless of whether his or her fixation is a video game or a substance, will be the last person to recognize the problem. He will rebuff family and friends’ attempts to point out the addiction and will typically respond with denial and/or anger.  In many cases, the person must face some consequences before he is willing to change his behavior.

I suggest you start by bringing in a family member or friend who your spouse trusts and respects and ask this party to speak to him about his obsessive behavior. If this third-party mediation doesn’t help, consider meeting with a professional counselor who specializes in addictions to help you strategize the best approach for your situation. Since talking to your husband hasn’t yielded much result, the counselor can help you determine if your husband needs to experience the impact of his behavior in a tangible way to jolt him into changing his ways.

If you are done waiting for your husband to change, then you may want to sit down with a marriage counselor and run through your next step. For example, the counselor can help you identify what you feel you need to do for your personal wellbeing, and also your family’s wellbeing. In the meantime, I recommend that you browse the following website to learn a bit more about gaming addictions:

I wish you the best.



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Salma Abugideiri is a licensed professional counselor with almost 20 years of experience. She is also a founding board member for Peaceful Families Project, a national non-profit organization dedicated to ending domestic violence in Muslim families. More information is available at


Salma Elkadi Abugideiri
Licensed Professional Counselor
8233 Old Courthouse Rd, Suite 340
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