Ask Scary Mommy is Scary Mommy’s advice column, where our team of “experts” answers all the questions you have about life, love, body image, friends, parenting, and anything else that’s confusing you.
This week: What do you do when your husband spends all of his “free” time playing video games? Have your own questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Scary Mommy,
My husband is obsessed with video games. Like headset, special gaming chair, two monitors obsessed. He uses our guest room as a gaming den and he is in there ALL. THE. TIME. He comes home from work, hangs out with me and the kids over dinner, then off to the den he goes. We don’t see him the rest of the night. When I call him out on not being more present or doing his share of the housework/parenting stuff, he basically blames me by saying “Well you didn’t say anything, so I figured everything was OK.” On the weekends, it feels like he also does the bare minimum even though he’s off and we should be doing family stuff, chores, and errands together (or at least splitting them). Our oldest, who is 6, says her daddy “loves video games more than me” on a regular basis. I can’t get through to him! HELP.
Whew. OK. So first things first, your husband is doing that whole “weaponizing incompetence” thing and that, my dear, is unacceptable. (If you want to feel less alone while simmering your rage at the same time, look up “#weaponizedincompetence” on TikTok.)
You are not his mother nor are you the manager of your house. You were not put here on Beyoncé’s earth to micromanage household tasks instead of divvying them up between you and your chosen life partner. You already have kids—your husband isn’t one. He’s manipulating you by playing innocent and placing the burden of basic adult responsibilities all on you. Call that shit out every chance you can and do not stop until he demonstrates actionable change. You cannot tolerate this video game-loving manchild for one day more and if he can’t get his shit together, he needs to seek counseling. Individual counseling first, marriage counseling next, if possible.
Alright, now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about realistic solutions. Since going cold turkey on no video games isn’t going to work, talk to him about playing games everyone can participate in. A Nintendo Switch is great for that—there are so many multi-player games that your kids can play, too. That way your husband is still actively “gaming” while also spending time with his kids and teaching them some video game skills.
But seriously, you cannot continue like this. You don’t deserve it and neither do your kids. The bar for your husband is resting comfortably on the floor right now, and it needs to match up with your bar sooner rather than later, and stay there. Period. I wish you luck—keep me posted.