For a Great Marriage: Watch Less TV

t-communication-marriage

“What are you watching?” Tess asked her husband, Matt.

“Nothing.”

“But the TV is on and you’re sitting in front of it,” said Tess.

“It’s a stupid show,” said Matt.

“What’s it about?”

“I don’t really know, except that it’s worthless.”

“Then why are you watching it?”

“I don’t know,” Matt shrugged. “I guess ’cause there’s nothing better to watch.”

“So why don’t you just turn it off?”

“I probably should, but there might be something better on in twenty minutes.”

Tess shook her head and walked away to spend another evening alone while her husband sat in his favorite chair, remote control poised strategically in his hand, his eyes glued to a blur of flashing images.

Television isn’t bad, but it can do bad things to your marriage. It can pull you apart and steal precious moments, filling them with irrelevant and sometimes highly questionable material.

One of the problems with television is that it has the ability to hypnotize those who watch it. You know what happens when you sit down and flip on the TV. Soon, you find yourself totally absorbed by what you see and oblivious to what is happening around you.

Your children are fighting.

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Your wife is calling you for dinner.

Your sofa has burst into flames.

But you’re focused on the game, as your favorite sports team battles neck and neck with an opponent.

Television obsessions come in a variety of flavors: there’s the sports fanatic, the sitcom junkie, the history buff, the soap-opera addict, and the news nut. Or maybe you’re hooked on medical dramas, lawyer shows, or reality television. Whatever your preference, you’re probably watching more TV than you need to watch.

Therefore, here are a few rules that might help you to tame your TV habit:

  1. Choose ahead of time what you really want to watch, and only turn on the television when that show has started. When the program has ended, turn off the TV before the next show begins.
  2. Decide how many hours of TV per day are appropriate for your family. Then discipline yourself to stay within those limits.
  3. Don’t watch TV alone. Decide that you will only watch programs that you and your spouse both want to see. Sit together on the same couch and watch those shows together. If your spouse really doesn’t want to watch something, don’t watch it.
  4. Talk about what you watch.
  5. Find a show that you both enjoy, then once a week set up a date time to watch your special show. Make it a tradition that is fun and romantic.

Television is consuming and must be controlled, or it will control you. Television draws you in and won’t let you go. It demands your attention and resents competition. My wife and I have found a substitute, however. It’s music. Music is not so demanding. It is equally content to shape your mood or merely set the atmosphere, allowing you to leave the room and return whenever you wish. It is more social than the television since it allows you to talk over it and through it. Music can draw a couple together, and the right music at the right time can reinforce a bond that:

  • intensifies intimacy
  • deepens connectedness
  • builds priceless memories

Someone once said that music is the soundtrack of our lives. Therefore, find music that touches you both, and then allow your home to overflow with sounds that nurture and refresh your soul. Fill your mornings with uplifting and lively music. In the evening listen to relaxing melodies. Keep a collection of your favorite romantic songs in your bedroom. When inspiring music is playing, you’ll be less likely to turn on the television.

As you learn to appreciate music together, look for songs or even one song that you both can call “our song.” Over the course of our marriage, Tami and I have collected at least seven songs that we call “ours.” Each has a different story and each holds certain magic. Each is sublimely special.

Tami and I have many songs, but one of my favorites is “Have I Told You Lately (That I Love You)?” written by Van Morrison. The first time Tami and I heard this powerful ballad, it was five o’clock in the morning and I was rushing Tami to the hospital for the birth of our second child. As the words flowed from the radio, the two of us looked at each other; it was as if this song had been written just for us. It was definitely “our song.”

Now, ten years later, the song is still just as powerful as it was that clear June morning when we first heard it. When Tami catches “our song” during the day, she’ll call me and place the telephone receiver to the radio. During those moments, we’re able to share our love in a unique and intimate way.

Several years ago, we were strolling through a small shop in Cannon Beach, Oregon, when we heard one of our songs. Suddenly the shopkeeper and the other tourists faded from our awareness. We held each other’s hands and kissed. At that moment nothing in the universe existed except the two of us, our love, and “our song.”

If you don’t have at least one special song, you are missing out on something wonderful. Think back to the songs that were meaningful during your courtship and marriage. Christen one of them as “our song,” and then add others as they touch your heart. Even when we go on vacations we take a CD player along with at least one of “our songs.” That way we’re never far from the wonderful memories that add to the romance and intimacy of our love.

Copyright © 2006, Dr. Steve Stephens, Used with permission.

Dr. Steve Stephens is a licensed psychogist, marriage and family counselor, radio host, seminar speaker and author of nine books. His best-selling Lists to Live By series, compiled with John Van Diest and Alice Gray, has sold more than 600,000 copies. He lives in Clackamas, Oregon, with his wife and their three children, where he also serves as president of Every Marriage Matters.

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