Dear Dr. Archer,
My husband is a gamer. We have two children, but most of the time I feel like a single parent. My youngest was born last February, and after I had him I realized something wasn't right.
I believe I have Postpartum Depression. I talked with my doctor at my six week checkup and told her how I felt. Before she prescribed anything, she recommended that I see a psychologist, but our insurance doesn't cover it. I've noticed in the last couple of years my patience is just not what it used to be. I find myself yelling often.
I can ask my husband for help, and he usually puts me on hold for a game. Example: I'm in the kitchen cooking, and our toddler is at my legs screaming. My husband will walk in and say he can't do anything for him, because he wants me, then he's back to the computer.
He uses games as an escape. He says he plays so much because all I do is yell and am never happy. I believe his gaming has made me the way I am now. He has been playing games since we met, but didn't get really bad until my oldest was born eight years ago. Since then, he has gone from game to game to game, having about 20 different online games. If he gets bored with one, he just goes to another.
He comes home, and within 15-30 minutes, he's on the computer. I'm tired of him blaming me for everything that happens. We just celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary this past week and the next day we argued most of the day. He can't see I need help; it's like he doesn't want a family.
I feel like I'm doing this alone, I have no patience and I'm just so sad. I love my children more than anything and I just want to be happy again. I looked at photos from a few years ago; I was so happy and I don't know what happened. He doesn't understand the way he can make me feel. I've tried talking to him numerous times, but it's never gotten me anywhere.
I've explained how I thought I had PPD (post-partum depression) after my youngest was born, and all he could say was, "I really don't know what that is, but I think you've changed a lot."
Is it all my fault? Is it just everything combined with both of us crashing down at once?
A couple of issues are at hand. First, I don't understand why your OB/GYN would first want you to see a specialist for postpartum depression. I would inquire why she would not prescribe meds, if you really do have PPD. I’m ok with you seeing the psychiatrist, but it makes me wonder.
Secondly, and this might be why she's leery to treat, I'm not sure if you have postpartum depression. What you DO have is a husband who is so preoccupied with playing games that he fails to take care of his very real responsibilities in the home. It’s easy for him to say it’s all your fault but that is just an easy way out for him.
Taking care of children, especially a toddler, is a full time job. Add to that you have the eight year old who has his own needs, plus the housework, plus meals. Along with all that responsibility is a man who just wants to play games. No wonder you're depressed and yell! Your husband doesn't have his priorities right, leaving you frustrated and angry.
He is setting a terrible precedent for his older son, and if this continues, for the younger one, too. He must realize that spending all his home time wasting away sitting at a computer playing games is representing a terrible role model for his kids, not even to mention what it's doing to you.
Since this became an issue when the oldest was born, I'm inclined to believe your husband feels he has lost his freedom, adventure and excitement, while having more responsibility heaped upon him. Thus his escape has become fantasy games. Look, I get it. I'm sure you want to toss the computer out so he has to face reality, but let’s try a different tact.
Start by inviting him to do things outside the house with you and the children. Go visit friends, or invite friends over. Go to the park, go to a child friendly pizza place, the zoo. Don’t yell or get upset, but make it clear that you and the kids want to get out and do something and that he can leave his game for a few hours to do it as a family.
Talk to your husband and tell him that his refusal to help out with the children and home has put undue pressure on you, which is why you yell and are unhappy. Ask him to step away from the computer and put time into his family and help out – after all you need a break from time to time. If he refuses, tell him you will hire outside help, and do it.
Your marriage is on the brink here Renee and I’m not sure your husband is willing to do his part. Your visits to the psychiatrist may well turn out to be therapy for an unhappy marriage as opposed to meds for post-partum depression.
Another thought, Renee. If your husband refuses to step away from his games in order to give his children some time and you a break, you've got to consider if this is how you want your future to play out.
You feel like a single parent, already. If he doesn't put forth an effort now, he most likely won't for a long, long time, if ever. I sincerely wish you much success.