$60 used to go further??? $60 has never gone this far with computer games. 3 and a quarter years after release and they're still making updates and providing assistance even after creating and releasing other games... This is 2011, not 1911.
So you know it's not an issue with the server or the game as your friend and his wife are able to play without issue, that would mean the issue is clearly on your end, and yet, you're still angry at them. Make absolutely sure you don't have any firewalls blocking it. Don't just assume since you didn't get any messages about it that it's working, go and check the settings manually and make sure. Hell, disable them all together and check. Also verify that you do in fact have the most recent version of the game. Vanilla Sins is at version 1.191, Entrenchment is at 1.051, and Diplomacy is at 1.21.