World of Warcraft can seriously damage your marriage, warn scientists

This may or may not come as a surprise - but three quarters of gamers' spouses wish their partners would spend less time waving swords around and put a bit more effort into their marriage.

A team from Brigham Young University studied 349 couples to learn how online role-playing games, such as World of Warcraft, affect marital satisfaction for both the gamers and their other halves.

And, they found, it's not the time spent playing games that causes the trouble, but rather the effect it has on bedtime routines.

"It's common knowledge that many couples experience challenges around gaming. Particularly when husbands are heavy gamers, it clearly has a negative impact on their marriages," says professor Neil Lundberg.

"It's not the hours that make a difference. It's really what it does to the relationship - whether or not it creates conflict and quarreling over the game."

The same applied wven when both members of a couple were keen gamers.

"We didn't realize that there was a whole group of couples who game together," says Lundberg.

"In those gaming couples where the marital satisfaction was low, the same issues existed. For example, if they argued about gaming and bedtime rituals were interrupted, even though they gamed together, they still had lower marital satisfaction scores."

However, the study found that for couples in which both spouses play, 76 percent said that gaming had a positive effect on their marital relationship.

"Not all video games are bad. Some are fun leisure pursuits that when played together may strengthen your relationships with others," says graduate student Michelle Ahlstrom.

"With any type of gaming, consider the content of the game. Consider what you are doing in the game, how much time it is taking, how it is affecting you, your schooling, work, sleep, body and especially how it is affecting your spouse and marital relationship."

Particularly on Valentine's Day...

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