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Should I be upset my husband plays online games with another woman? Add to ...



THE QUESTION

My husband and I like to play online games (MMORPGs) together. Several months ago another player he did not know (a woman) asked him for help with a mission because he was at the highest level and she knew he'd helped others before. He did assist her and they've played together since. But I'm not invited to come along and she rarely speaks to me. Now they text or call each other offline too. This has resulted in some horrendous fights about emotional affairs.

I decided to take the high road and invite her to complete some group missions as a way of trying to get to know her. We had fun but she did not initiate any further interactions. So, I gave up putting any more effort into befriending her.

Meanwhile, I feel I'm no longer important to my husband, which is devastating to say the least. Part of me wants to confront her but I feel that would only make things worse. It would be tragic to allow virtual interactions to ruin our marriage but I'm at my wits' end and don't know what to do.

THE ANSWER

Madam: I have no idea what MMORPGs are.

But I perceive that you and your husband are from the planet Nexus of Eggheads and Registered Dungeonmasters (NERD).

Ah, I'm just yanking your chain. And let he who is without nerd-quotient cast the first stone.

As I write this, I have a nerdy little clip-on glasses case in the pocket of my button-down shirt, so I'm hardly one to talk.

Actually, I feel your pain - the pain of watching in horror as your husband takes his "interfaces" with some little cyber-hussy "offline."

And I understand, I think, why you tried to befriend her. It was a "keep your friends close and your enemies closer" thing, right?

But with one's spouse the truly high-IQ move, I feel, is to keep plenty of daylight - and run lots of interference - between him and any potential playmates, whether cyber or actual.

Now don't get me wrong. I think it's fine for married men to have female friends, and in fact I have a bunch of female friends myself. I cherish them all, and I'm glad my wife, Pam, doesn't give me too hard a time about them.

But I take great pains not to cross a number of subtle, invisible lines with them. Never give off "the single vibe"; don't overcompliment; watch the cozy little tête-a-têtes; etc. And if I ever do cross these lines - well, alarms go off back at the station, and Pam sends out a couple of cruisers.

Like one night I was out with one of my closest female friends, who just happens by sheer coincidence to be fairly easy on the old eyeballs.

She and I were chatting, and somehow it got to be 2 a.m. My cellphone rang. I looked at the call display. It said: "Home." I answered, but all I heard, halfway through my greeting ("Oh, hi Pam, I..."), was: click, dial tone.

"Uh, I think we better get the cheque," I said to my friend.

I liked it, though. I like it that Pam tugs on my leash if ever I seem to be straying from the path of virtue and righteousness.

(Not that I was, but as Pam said later: "People might see you and assume, and that would be bad for your reputation.")

And your husband, if he's the right kind of guy, should too.

Anyway, you have to put your foot down! Grab your husband by his bow tie, or the belt of his high-waisted, polyester pants, bring the lenses of your glasses right up to the lenses of his and say: "All this gaming with, not to mention texting and phoning, Little Miss 'Ooooh, Can-You-Mentor-Me-With-Your-Awesome-MMORPG-Skills?' is making me uncomfortable. You're my nerd, and if you ever forget it, I'm going to serve you your Bachelor Papers before you can say 'Game Over' in Klingon. You got that, buster?"

Now, if he's the wrong kind of guy, the bad news is: He'll cheat on you no matter what you do. But at least you'll have tried.

But if he's the other type, the decent sort, he'll appreciate being brought up short every time he gets a little doggy. It'll make him feel loved, and protected, and watched out for, knowing you care enough about him (and his reputation) to make sure he stays in line, whether he's online or offline.

And then you and he can play MMORPGs, whatever they are, happily together, forever and ever after.

David Eddie is a screenwriter and the author of Chump Change and Housebroken: Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Dad.

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