360 Widow

My husband fancies himself something of a gamer. He’s owned a number of game systems over the years; at the moment he has two.  One claims that it’s a family-friendly game console. During our time in couples therapy, we spent some time every week doing things together. Gruff started reading books with me (we read The Kite Runner aloud, chapter by chapter, nearly every day) and I started playing video games with him. I didn’t want to play shooting games, so we settled on this one – sporty, silly, a lot more active and interactive than a traditional sit-on-your-bum-and-move-your-thumbs game. We did have a lot of fun with it, giggling and breaking up the horrible tension that hung like a cloud over so many of our days. It’s been a few months since we played together, but I’m fond of the Wii. Not only is it honestly a fun way to kill a half-hour and a great party game, but it was a fun distraction during a stressful time. If you’re looking for a video game system for your home, this is the one I’d recommend (because, odds are, you can find a game that you’ll enjoy and one that you’ll approve of your kids playing).

But then, there’s that other game system. I hate it. Hate with the fire of a thousand suns. Most of the games seem to be shooters and war-related, which bothers me. I don’t like the violence on the screen; I don’t like thinking of Gruff as enjoying that kind of violence; I don’t want Smooch to be exposed to even a background-noise level of those games. I don’t understand why people play them at all. I hate the stupid earpiece for the stupid live-chat feature, which allows my husband to say things like, “Good shot, dude!” and “What the hell!?” to his co-players (whom I envision to be a motley crew of 11 and 12 year old boys in various stages of geekdom). It’s particularly disturbing when he has all of the game sound routed to his headphones, though, because I sit in the family room happily typing away until he calls, “Look out! Here they come!” It makes me jump every.single.time.

Without a doubt, though, the biggest problem with video games at our house is the time-drain. Gruff already works insane hours – right now, and for the next six months or so, his schedule involves leaving the house around 4:30 a.m. and returning at 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, with two weekends off and two weekends performing rounds each month. That doesn’t leave much time for anything else at all.

Add in a toddler who’s having a major phase of wanting Daddy, a surgical-training exam looming in two weeks, a wife who enjoys the occasional adult conversation and quiet time together, and the necessities of life like eating and sleeping…. well. You can do the math, right? No free time.

So when Gruff gets settled in his chair, pulls out that wireless controller and earpiece, and pulls out Mass Effect or Assassin’s Creed, or BioShock, I can’t help but sigh. And maybe grumble or huff. And possibly slam a few books around. Or stomp up the stairs. You know, whatever. Because I’m all about the communication. And then, around midnight – when I’ve already been asleep for two or three hours – when Gruff comes upstairs to go to bed, I might sigh and huff and mumble, “What time is it?” just to really drive my point home. Because I care.

I just can’t stand the way that Box takes over his time. It would be one thing if he could implement an internal ‘off’ switch; it would be one thing if his stated plan to start using a kitchen timer to limit the game play had followed through. Unfortunately, right now it seems like there’s no way to restrain him. I’m stuck, like all those women who bid farewell to spouse-time when hunting season (or football season, or good-golf-weather season) rolls around, waiting for him to turn off the console.


5 Responses to 360 Widow

  1. I think we are probably the only family who doesn’t own a video game system, and after reading your post, I think I’d like to keep it that way for a while longer!

  2. Waiting Amy says:

    I was going to suggest the kitchen timer! Maybe you can remind him about it when he gets ready to play?

    I know this is hard. They get so little time to themselves to just do what they want. I feel bad when I insist he jump into family life the entire time he is home. But like you said, there is so little free time to divide up. I would push for the timer again. Or maybe jump in and suggest you play the wii together instead?

    Its a tough battle. good luck.

  3. Heather says:

    I love to play video games. I bet it drives my husband insane as well. I, however, only pull out the Sims about once every 2 weeks or so (and play for 4 hours) because I don’t want to spend all my time in a fantasy world when the real world is so rich.

    Of course there are some days that I’d prefer to not communicate with my husband at all either. Then I just grunt at him when he says something to me and continue watching TV.

    Yep, I’m about the communication too.

    I’m assuming that it’s stress-relief for your husband. Maybe tell him for every hour he spends playing the game he must spend an hour reading with you…?

  4. crono says:

    You know, with the lats dash board update, they implemented parental controls in the 360, including a timer feature, which you can set, and then the console will shut itself off after X amount of time.

    I dunno if that would work for you, but if the console itself is set up to shut off after say, an hour, that is much harder to avoid that a ding! of a timer or a huffing wife.

  5. fizzledink says:

    At least I’m not alone in this. (Sigh)

    Amy, I know what you mean – I have such a long internal dialogue about this – he works hard, he needs time to destress, but I word hard too, when do I get to immerse myself in some other world for a few hours? It just goes on and on, back and forth.

    Heather, how funny! It’s a role reversal compared to here. (Although years and years ago, we had a Playstation (I think that’s what it was) and Gruff bought me the Sims, and I loved it! For about six months, and then lost interest – but that was the first video game that I could understand getting totally caught up in it and losing track of time.

    Crono – can you imagine his face, though, if I went in and set that timer and his console suddenly turned off??? Oh wait, you probably meant that we should, like discuss it and I should let him set the dashboard timer himself, right? Yeah, that’s not a bad idea.

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