I’ve been married for 31 years, most of them pretty damn good, but things started to go south about 12-15 years ago when my wife started spending time on the computer. She mostly went online for email when the kids were in school but then at some point it just became a constant thing and she is always on Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest and eBay and all sorts of other sites where she interacts with everyone except me.
My job is very stressful and when I come home I’d really like to sit and relax and talk with my wife, especially now that the kids are gone and there is nobody else to talk to but the dog and she’s not talking back – ha! I’ve tried to discuss it with her over the years but she doesn’t want to talk about it. Now I don’t even want to come home after work and I am dreading my retirement in a few years.
I still love my wife and I want to spend time with her. How do I get her off the computer and back into my life?
I sympathize with your problem. I know a lot of men and women with the same issue but to varying degrees. On a scale of 1-10, however, you are at 11.
In other words, random Spinal Tap references aside, your marriage is in serious trouble. It may not be technically dead, but it’s definitely on life support and showing no brain activity. You need either a miracle brought about by serious work on both your parts or it’s time to unplug the relationship and put it in the ground where it belongs.
The computer/internet isn’t your problem. Your problem is your wife doesn’t like you and may very well not love you anymore.
You said most of the years of your marriage were “pretty damn good,” but then you went on to tell me that this problem began 12-15 years ago. While nobody ever accused me of being competent at math, even I can see that almost 1/2 of your marriage has suffered from your wife’s emotional absence as she chose to spend time in cyberspace instead of with you.
When we spoke last week you told me you began to grow very concerned with her time on the computer 10 years ago. What a coincidence: 10 years ago is when your youngest child left for college. Hmmmmmmm. I wonder whatever in the world could be going on here?
You also told me she has a college degree and has been employed off and on over the years but hasn’t done anything for the past five years, not even volunteer work, despite your suggestions that work might help battle some of the boredom and empty-nest feelings with which she is struggling. This is the exact reason I advocate for women not focusing solely on raising children instead of working too, because at some point the kids will be gone and they will be bored, lonely, drifting and depressed.
I remember when the internet first came to be and we mainly used it to communicate with friends via email, because suddenly letters and phone calls seemed too burdensome. How I wish we could put that fart back in the poop chute and push Mark Zuckerberg’s pregnant mom in front of a train.
Of course we now know that email was just the amuse bouche to the subsequent Banquet of Fuckery that is the “social network,” a term particularly interesting because it is neither social nor a true network.
Especially troubling is Facebook: a site dedicated to the proposition that while all men and women are created equal, given the right tools we will invariably endeavor to prove our superiority via vacation photos and proclamations of happiness. You told me your wife obsesses over how many “likes” or comments she gets on her various Facebook postings. That right there tells you your wife is a very unhappy, very bored and very lonely woman.
Lest you think I am a hypocrite, I’ll have you know that the only reason I am on Facebook is for this blog and to post embarrassing photos of my family whenever possible. It’s not like I give a shit. Pretty much. Er, time for a meaningful meme…
Now that my rant is complete, here is my advice to you: insist that your wife discuss this computer addiction with you and a marriage counselor.
However, before you do that I suggest you conduct a little experiment. You told me your wife is online almost constantly from the time you get home until you go to bed (she stays up later than you do – easy peasy when you have nowhere to go in the morning). Perhaps you should check out of the marriage for a short time as well?
I know you love to golf and you have a vacation home (please feel free to repay me by giving me free time there, btw). My suggestion is you arrange for a buddy golf trip at your second home.* Don’t say a word about it to your wife. Just go and be gone for a few days. When she complains that you disappeared without telling her you can refer her to this blog and blame me. I’m your escapegoat!
Sometimes we need to illustrate in creative ways how people are affecting us with their behavior. Remind her she similarly disappeared about a decade ago and you can’t take it anymore. Insist on immediately starting marital therapy and that she disengage from the internet when you are home.
If your wife refuses to unplug and to seek counseling with you to explore ways to save your marriage, she is signaling to you that she has no love for you anymore but she is too chicken shit and lazy to get divorced.**
At that point, you need to decide whether you want to spend the rest of your life in a loveless marriage, quietly fingering the trigger of your up-turned shotgun and hoping the dog will learn somehow to talk before you decide to blow your brains out.
Please let me know how it goes. You married very young and have many years ahead of you. Whether or not you make them a slog and a countdown towards a welcome death OR a joyous adventure is up to you.
**She also may be depressed so encourage her to talk to her doctor. I’m over my word limit so I won’t address this issue today