Angry Birds, Angry Spouse? A Study of Online Gaming’s Effect on Marriage Shows Much Broader Implications

In a study published last year the Journal of Leisure Research, results showed that online gaming can have a negative impact on marriages. This comes as no surprise to most people, but the specifics are a little more interesting. This is especially prevalent in today’s age with smart phones streaming an endless source of distracting information, whether it’s the latest sports score, facebook post or an addicting game.

The common assumption would be that too much time spent gaming would put a strain on marriages, but for many of the people participating in the survey, actual hours spent were not the main concern.

One of the largest problems that couples encountered when one member was an avid online gamer was a disruption of bedtime routines, and the resulting dissatisfaction of not going to bed at the same time.

The disruption of bedtime rituals, it’s safe to assume, can lead to less frequent sexual activity, less communication as couples are winding down the day, and even the simple dissatisfaction of going to bed alone.

Man playing video games and woman reading
Don’t let a hobby like online gaming take precedent over spending time with your spouse.

Now, the study was specific to the effects of online gaming, but these results seem to implicate a much larger issue. Even if it has nothing to do with video games, what are the adverse effects of not sharing a bedtime routine with your spouse?

It could be any other hobby, but when a leisure activity consistently takes one member of a marriage away from time spent as a couple, there will eventually be negative consequences.

When a hobby like online gaming takes precedent over spending time with your spouse, particularly the connection-building time spent together in bed (even if you’re just sleeping), it can make the other person feel neglected, ignored, and downright unimportant in the face of your other interests.

This isn’t to say that couples need to spend every waking moment together, or that bedtime routines should be so rigid they don’t allow for fluctuations in people’s schedules – this is simply to show the long term importance of sharing some kind of bedtime ritual, and to remind couples to be aware of how their hobbies and use of free time may be affecting the other person.

Like many of the other habits we discuss, going to bed at separate times, or generally ignoring the connective importance of that time of the day will eventually become habit. As those habits form, dissatisfaction builds, and those cycles can be very difficult to break.

To avoid these kinds of problems, you don’t have to give up your hobbies or get ready for bed every time your spouse does. Instead, just be aware of how your routines overlap with your spouse’s, and find some middle ground so you have time to keep your connection strong!

For more tips on resolving conflict and strengthening the bond with your spouse, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!

Do you and your spouse go to bed at the same time? Are you disconnected because of too much gaming or screen time? Please comment below.

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Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, StrongMarriageNow.com

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8 comments

unhappy with the internet game 9 years ago

Although some of your study is true, my husband is way out of control and knows it but doesn't want to admit it. He has a reason for every action he makes. (I.e. playing games or watching sports) anything that has to do with sports, he's addicted. He's CONSTANTLY on his phone looking at scores or reading up on players and upcoming events...non-stop! It got to a point where I can't enjoy a game, ANY game. Then, what made it worse was he bought a PS3! Omg! He played day in and day out on top of his daily ritual internet sports surfing! It became precident in his life. We argued All the time. One morning, I got up from a deep sleep, it was about 3am., he was on the internet chatting on a dating service with other women. It was the last straw for me. We got into a huge fight and I was ready to break his PS3 but he jumped on it to protect it from harm! I couldn't believe what I was seeing! He left the house and never returned for a month! We are still together, he sold his PS3 and tries not to spend so much time on his phone but it doesn't mean he's stopped! Its been 2yrs., since then and its still the same, only not as frequent. He has bought a new game system since but I will say this, I am NOT HAPPY IN THIS MARRIAGE! I don't think I sould have to compete with a game system, a phone, or the internet! It has become a living nightmare! And he knows I've been wanting a divorce but don't want to give me one. I feel trapped!!!!

Jeremy 9 years ago

If you have children then staying together is very important. The current divorce rate proves that people are not happy divorcing. I am currently seeing a girl that has been divorced 6 YES 6 times. Her philosophy is that marriage is like a season and when you get unhappy you close one door and open another. Problem with that is the next guy you meet will have to deal with all the men you divorced along the way. Believe me, being a GUY and having to deal with multiple MEN in her life makes you feel like the next guy on a prize board at a carnival. IT SUCKS! And she is starting to have some problems in her OLDER years that make it VERY important that she has some one to help her pay the bills and take care of her. I don't know how this will end but I do know that if you divorce once you keep divorcing, and the problem never gets solved. The problem is that you need to SOLVE relationship issues not ABANDON them. It's the ROCKS....no man is perfect and no women is PERFECT. WE need to learn to handle our marriage. When you said "I DO" you were saying you would....

Joe 8 years ago

My wife texts on her phone almost non-stop, at all times of the day, and everywhere she goes. She won't even put it down when I'm trying to talk with her, and I feel like I never have her full attention. Our marriage has been unhappy for a while, but this particular wall that she has erected between us is probably the most damaging of all. Facebook is a similar evil.

Mike_Olsen_SMN 8 years ago

Joe, As great as technology is for the future, it sure can put a damper on relationships. Try these fun ideas that don't involve using a cell phone: https://www.strongmarriagenow.com/10-ways-reconnect-magic-alive-year/

Ralph 7 years ago

Computers have almost ruined my marriage. I have made comments to my wife about how much time she spends on it. First thing in the morning for a couple of hrs, after lunch, after supper, before bed. Each for a couple of hrs at a time. Never time for me. I have walked up behind her and hugged her and her first comment was "this is my time, and I don't want to be bothered while I'm on here." You'd think a hug would mean something. Then again, in bed together doesn't either. Any ideas from anyone to break this cycle?

Ralph 7 years ago

Computers have almost ruined my marriage. I have made comments to my wife about how much time she spends on it. First thing in the morning for a couple of hrs, after lunch, after supper, before bed. Each for a couple of hrs at a time. Never time for me. I have walked up behind her and hugged her and her first comment was "this is my time, and I don't want to be bothered while I'm on here." You'd think a hug would mean something. Then again, in bed together doesn't either. Any ideas from anyone to break this cycle?

Mike_Olsen_SMN 7 years ago

Hi Ralph, a technology addiction is just as strong as any other. She might be dealing with feelings of depression or midlife crisis and using the computer to avoid dealing with it. Start by setting aside weekly time for both of you, with no technology. Whether it's a date night, or just reading a book together. Find a new hobby you can enjoy side by side. https://www.strongmarriagenow.com/battling-internet-addiction/

Mike_Olsen_SMN 7 years ago

Hi Ralph, a technology addiction is just as strong as any other. She might be dealing with feelings of depression or midlife crisis and using the computer to avoid dealing with it. Start by setting aside weekly time for both of you, with no technology. Whether it's a date night, or just reading a book together. Find a new hobby you can enjoy side by side. https://www.strongmarriagenow.com/battling-internet-addiction/