Published On: Thu, Feb 22nd, 2024

Carolyn Hax: Husband is all in on game, checked out of his marriage

Carolyn Hax: Husband is all in on game, checked out of his marriage
Carolyn Hax: Husband is all in on game, checked out of his marriage

Adapted from an online discussion.

Dear Carolyn: My husband plays an online strategy game for six to eight hours a day. He is semiretired, gets his work and chores done, and is pleasant. He is an introvert. Our two sons are grown and living in other cities. He doesn’t suggest anything for the two of us to do together or notice additional things to do around the house, because his default is gaming.

I have suggested that he might be a bit addicted to it, and that I’d like more of his focus and attention. He nods, and nothing changes. Am I expecting too much?

Spouse: That is such a loaded question.

He’s doing nothing to nurture the marriage, even when you ask — so if you expect him to do anything to nurture the marriage, then you are expecting too much.

If you invest in relationships with the expectation that the investment is mutual, and believe it stops being a relationship when it’s one-sided, then you are not expecting too much.

If he expects you to keep planning everything and sticking around unhappily in the status quo, then he is expecting too much.

If you both expect someone “a bit addicted” not to get any more so, then you both are expecting too much.

So it would be more productive to decide what you’ll do next with the facts you have. Your husband has no interest resetting his default, for you or whatever else. Do you want to keep making plans for the two of you, to preserve some togetherness? Make plans with your friends instead, to preserve some life vs. waiting around? Drag this into marriage counseling? An attorney’s office?

Expectations are amorphous and can affect our vision of what we actually have. Options are straightforward. Sounds like it’s time for you to weigh your options.

Dear Carolyn: How can I get my son and daughter-in-law to stop changing plans at the last minute? For example, I registered our granddaughter, 11, for an expensive two-week equestrian camp. My son and daughter-in-law approved the dates. I then emailed the schedule and contact information and gave them a hard copy. When we were all together recently, we talked about this camp, no problem.

The camp is next week, and my son and daughter-in-law just informed me that they are taking my granddaughter with them to visit friends, so she will miss two or three days of camp. I was aghast. I asked whether our granddaughter could stay with us to attend the camp. They said no because she is excited to go to a water park with their friends.

Our granddaughter did not realize she would be missing camp for this. She asked me if I was angry with her parents, and I said: “I feel angry and frustrated that they are making these changes at the last minute. But you are not responsible for this situation, and the adults will deal with it.” It is of course too late to get a camp refund.

This has happened frequently. We live nearby and socialize and make plans often. I worry that if we speak up about unfair treatment from our daughter-in-law, our access to our granddaughter will be affected.

Anonymous: From just your daughter-in-law? Not both? Huh.

Regardless: Accept that they are both this way. Then stop paying for plans — or plan things knowing you may lose money.

It’s a crappy answer — since presumably what you want is to make a difference? — but it’s also an easy one, and we like easy here.

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