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He Said, She Said: A Husband’s “Filthy Habits”

Life can grow to become quite challenging during the daily routines, causing us to feel anxious, irritable, sleepless, absent-minded, or unable to cope. Though it’s a process and not diagnosis, stress occurs when there is an imbalance between the demands being made on us and our own capabilities to manage such pursuits. Stress can affect us in many ways and eventually touch onto the ones we love through the challenges met emotionally, mentally, and behaviorally.

Image Credit: Mike Kemp/Corbis

Image Credit: Mike Kemp/Corbis

Stress doesn’t just affect the person involved. It affects everyone around you. In this week’s column, our reader writes in and wonders why is it that her husband engages in “filthy habits” like porn, video games, and drinking. Though it is unclear if he is an addict, our writers believe he might just be using such tools as a way of “de-stressing”. Obviously, these aren’t practical ways to unwind but everyone has their own way of dealing and coping with stress, and the outlets they seek out should be exercised in moderation.

The Daily Mail reported two years ago that video games were being blamed for divorce as men preferred “World of Warcraft” over their wives. Of the wives who cited unreasonable behavior for ending their marriage, 15% believed their partners put gaming before them, soaring 5% from the previous year. The Divorce Online team that carried out the research after noticing the popular video game was cited by unhappy wives in filings says they are not surprised by the result but would expect the number to increase over the next few years. The reason for the increase? Managing director, Mark Keenan says it could be the consequence of people staying indoors more because of the recession or it might be used by men in particular as a means of escape from an already unhappy relationship.

Marriage is hard work and when things don’t go the “right way” according to your plan, is there anyone to blame? While sacrificing many things in a relationship may work temporarily and solve the immediate concerns of both parties involved, it is no guarantee for a lasting relationship. When in love, one might make sacrifices that could change who you are for a moment, but that might become a decision you grow to regret later on in life. No one is perfect and we each have a lesser side, but that doesn’t mean you give yourself up entirely for the other. Some partners or spouses in relationships can become demanding and wish for their significant other to change too much and all at once, but when you keep giving in, you will lose yourself in the relationship and head down a road of unhappiness and regret.

So what does one do? As previously mentioned in our column, communication is the key factor in any relationship. No one wants to feel talked down to and judged. Often times stress affects many behaviorally and they seek ways to “de-stress” in order to manage such weight, like for example: video games, porn and occasionally drinking. Talking to your partner or spouse calmly and without judgement towards an issue is the essential move here. But telling someone what they are doing is not to your liking comes off like as a complaint and nag or seen as “mom-like” behavior. Communicating your true feelings and reasoning behind your actions and concerns towards your spouse can increase the happiness in your home.

This week we hear from Brenda of Fairfield, Connecticut who is growing tired and frustrated of her husband’s vices like drinking, watching porn, and video gaming. Are these truly “filthy habits” or a means of de-stressing? Read on to find out what our writers had to say and the words of advice they shared with her.

He Said She Said - Brenda August 14

Chris says…

Brenda, I’m really sorry to hear about you and your husband’s struggles. This is a really tough question to answer as every marriage is unique and different. I think that a good starting point might be to have a very open conversation with him. You may want to hold off on the “I want you to change” or “this is unacceptable” talk and instead start by simply asking him what is bothering him. Let him talk about himself for a few minutes. He may be carrying over the residual effects of working from home – i.e: working alone, not having to socialize as you do, or basically running his own schedule. This may be affecting his communication skills. Also, there may be something with his job, general health, or maybe something that is nagging him that he feels he can’t or shouldn’t tell you.

Try to keep the conversation calm; temporarily dispense of your opinions and try to understand what he is sharing with you. Then, when he is done, talk about what is bothering you. I know you are frustrated, and depending on the first part of the conversation you may be more frustrated (or maybe not), but it is important to carry on the conversational tone and not get into an actual argument.

With every marriage, there are somethings that each of us needs for ourselves, as well as needs to do for our significant other. That is something important to remember. The porn and video game playing might be something that he used to do before you, and if you haven’t had an open conversation about what is important to you and him then here is a place to start. Both things could be interpreted as “de-stressors”, so maybe you both could work together to find alternate ways to “de-stress” that don’t cause so much friction. Is there something that you can compromise on? Is there something that he can compromise on? Those are the questions you may want to consider.

As I said before, its a very tough question as no marriage is the same. However, I think that having an open and calm conversation – sans the argument – may be a good way to figure out what is going on, what is needed for you, and what is needed for the marriage to work.

Good Luck, Brenda.

Stephen says…

Brenda, I’m very sorry to hear that your marriage is not bringing you the levels of happiness that it should. This is a difficult situation you have found yourself in.

Without this coming across as self centered of me, I am going to try and draw from my experience of marriage to try and relate to this. I know for a fact that game playing is something that I have had to try and keep under control so that I can spend time with my wife, and sometimes I slip into a rut where I will start to spend too much time being inattentive. When I am reminded by my wife that I probably should play less, it often comes across as nagging, even although it’s a very reasonable thing to say – although I will attest that it can be misconstrued as mom-like.

It seems like you are trying to be fair and reasonable, and I think it is very obvious that your husband does care that what he does bothers you; if that weren’t the case then he wouldn’t make any attempt to change. I know that the change doesn’t last for long, but he is trying to make some sort of effort.

If I could make one suggestion, it would be to try and choose your words wisely when speaking to your husband about things that you don’t like. It can be difficult to use language that remains on a more neutral footing, especially when you are trying to explain that something is distasteful to you. This will help when it comes to your husband’s reaction to negative feedback.

I think Chris has really nailed the answer to this one. You should have a long talk with your husband. Make sure to keep the heat of the conversation on the side of cool, and make sure to be as open to anything he has to say about you, as you would expect him to be when you are telling him things.

I am confident that you will be able to work things out with your husband. It sounds like you both love each other, and I really do hope that you manage to talk through your problems. Best of luck.

Cathie says…

Thank you for writing in Brenda. I was sorry to read of your marital troubles, while finding hope that things can be resolved to a place where you and your husband both feel comfortable. I am not married, however I have had a relationship with someone who enjoyed watching porn and gaming.  I didn’t approve of it, not because I found it filthy or was disgusted, but more for it keeping him from taking care of his responsibilities. What I had learned is that even in a relationship, there will be things about our individual selves that our partner doesn’t agree with or understand. Which, is okay. What you have written here is about the things you don’t like in him. Are you able to accept these things are part of who he is, knowing you love him and that he is earning a living? I do agree completely that a very open and honest conversation would be beneficial. Instead of passing judgement on things that you are struggling with, maybe ask him why he enjoys them? Let him tell you about who he is, and what he is feeling. Through this, you both may discover something that you’re able to work on and strengthen your bond. If it’s a matter of simple enjoyment for him, maybe put some guidelines in place where each of you is allowed to do something you enjoy without the other having a say. He seems to be willing to try to change, it could be that he needs to feel understood more to be able to make it something more lasting. It is difficult to not come across as overbearing when something is bothering you. I also know this from personal experience. You are frustrated and want to understand. I have a feeling your husband may feel the same way. Set aside that time to communicate openly. Choosing words and not letting frustrations overcome the process could make a positive difference. I am certain neither of you wants the other to feel unhappy. Marriages take work and compromise just as much as they require understanding. I really do wish you both the best.

Janna says…

Brenda, I’m so sorry to hear about the struggles you’re going through right now in your marriage–I can’t imagine that’s easy in the slightest. I think my fellow authors here have come up with some great points that will hopefully help set you and your husband down a better path together. I understand your frustrations–it’s difficult seeing the people we love doing things that we disapprove of. However, I’m going to be frank with you: it sounds like this particular vices of his are de-stressors. He likely uses video games, alcohol, and porn to relax. While that may not be your idea of relaxation and a good time, I don’t think it’s wrong that it’s his. If these vices of his are occasional things, and he’s still earning a living, helping around the house and spending time with you, I think you might need to cut him a little slack. Think about it from another perspective–would you enjoy him dictating how you spend your free time?

However, if these vices are an every day thing that start to impede upon his work or his responsibilities, that’s when they’re becoming a problem. If he’s constantly choosing to spend his time doing these things instead of working, helping around the house or spending time with you, you’re valid in taking issue with these things. If this is the case, then I agree with the advice my fellow authors laid out–talk to him. Sit down and have an honest conversation, and try to listen to his side just as much as you want him to listen to yours. Try to approach the problem as something you’re tackling together, as opposed to things about him you don’t like and want to see stop. In my experience, people become resistant to suggestions and change if they don’t feel you understand where they’re coming from. Empathize with him and maybe try to compromise–consider setting aside an evening or two a week where you’re both free to spend your free time doing whatever you want. That way, he can have a beer and game, and you can enjoy your time doing something you love, too. Setting aside time like that might even make the time you two do spend together all the more enjoyable, as there’ll be no leftover resentment hanging around. Best of luck!

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If you seek advice from our writers, email us at thehudsuckerblog@gmail.com! Perhaps your question will be featured in our next installment.

While our team of writers have given their advice with the best of intentions, they nor anyone of this site assume responsibility for your actions or the results of them.
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