Are Video Games Negatively Affecting Marriages?

With reports that the video game industry could reach $300 billion by the year 2025, it is no secret that people love video games. However, do gamers love their favorite RPG more than they love their significant other?

As video games become more popular, much has been discussed about their addictive nature and how playing them can negatively affect relationships, but is there any truth to the speculation? Is it possible to enjoy the newest side scroller and also have a successful marriage? We believe you can, but it takes a healthy balance.

Let’s look at some studies and statistics and get some clarification for these common questions.

Grounds for Divorce

The statistic that you have heard all of these years still rings true; almost 50% of marriages end in divorce. It is a sad fact, but unfortunately, not every couple can make it work. So which couples are more likely to get divorced and why?

Even before getting into negative behaviors that lead to divorce, we can look at the numbers to see who is more prone to get divorced. Some studies show that money issues or a lack thereof may be the culprit. These studies also show that relationships with at least one unemployed partner can also be likely for divorce. There are even reports that people who live in certain states are more prone to separation, with Nevada, Oklahoma, and Wyoming making the top 10.

So, where do video games fit into this? As the research shows, it is not the fact that you own a video game or play one casually that will deteriorate your marriage, it is how much time and money you spend playing and if you are spending your time wisely. Recently, a number of studies hinted at some disturbing trends.

Marriage and Video Games

Last year, a highly publicized study by the company Divorce Online found a correlation between divorce and the popular video game Fortnite. When going through divorce petitions, they discovered that at least 200 of the applications, or roughly 5%, literally had the word “Fortnite” listed as the reason for divorce. Although there may be other factors involved, the main issue here is that the video game-playing spouse in the relationship was too focused on the game and not their relationship. This makes the game an addiction of sorts, and addiction is another of the main reasons that divorce occurs.

During another study from the Journal of Leisure Research, researchers spoke to hundreds of married couples who were married around seven years and discovered of the spouses, the husband was the gamer 73% of the time. When they talked to the spouse of the gamer, 75% of women stated that they wished their husband would spend less time playing and more time being an active part of the relationship and that the constant gaming usually led to arguments. As an interesting side note, it was also found that of the couples where the husband and wife had equal playing time, 76% said that the games actually helped their relationship.

Still, it is not hard to see that when one spouse spends more time with video games than with their partner, trouble seems inevitable.

Marriages can also suffer when one partner has behavioral issues that may stem from childhood trauma or bullying in particular. When it comes to video games, 57% of children say they have been bullied while playing online games, and although 29% of them said that the behavior did not stop them from wanting to play the games, the fact remains that bullying can have lasting effects.

In addition to potential physical harm, bullying can also have a “deeply distressing impact on a child’s relationship with his or her peers,” and if it continues, the troubling behavior can stick with them during their adult relationships and could ultimately lead to divorce. Parents should be watchful of the impacts of online gaming on their children so that they can put a possible end to such dangers before they go too far.

Other Impacts of Gaming

There are additional ways that video games can affect your relationship. The key to all of these situations is remembering the importance of your marriage and making it a priority over your gameplay.

For instance, couples who spend equal time playing video games might fall into an unhealthy pattern where they are spending too much time gaming and too little time talking about real issues. Some couples may even come home from work and spend the rest of the evening playing video games, which may be fun, but it doesn’t lead to effective communication. Avoid this pitfall by setting time aside after work to talk about your day and other important issues.

Research done at Brigham Young University concludes that marriages were impacted when one partner stayed up later than the other to play video games. They found that couples who did not go to bed together reported more marital issues. Again, this all circles back to spending time with your loved one. Remedy this by having a set deadline each night where you stop playing and head to the bedroom to spend quality time.

In the end, it is not that video games themselves lead to divorce, it is how you balance your time that makes the difference. Take time to enjoy yourself and play video games, but always keep the relationship as your number one priority.


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