I feel bitter as I write this. Why, you ask? Because I have come to resent the TV. I’m newly married, and when my new husband comes home from work, I expect his excitement to be over seeing me. I expect him to want to do nothing but bask in the glory of my company as we entertain each other with witty stories and find creative ways to spend our time around the house. What happens instead? What does he reach to turn on as soon as he walks into the room? No, not me! The TV! So, the conclusion I have come to is that TV damages relationships.
How do I hate thee, TV? Let me count the ways.
1. You, TV, take away the need for real interpersonal interaction. Sure, we get lots of good cuddle time in during our evening TV ritual, but our conversation consists of comments about whatever program we are watching, brief arguments about what to watch next, and priority-setting for which shows we must be sure to record for later viewing. Lately, we have been making it a point to have a real, sit-down, family dinner at the table when he gets home, and what a difference that makes in our conversations! Who would have known we were interesting people with problems that need to be solved and thoughts that deserve to be shared? Usually we just watch other people solve problems and listen to other people’s deep thoughts.
Tip to Counteract the Damage: Schedule only a certain amount of time per day to watch TV, such as an hour. Make sure it is not over meals, and that you dedicate time to doing something productive or at least interactive in the other part of your day.
2. You, TV, cause enmity between my husband and me. Yes, I had a guilty pleasure for The Bachelorette. I admit it. But when my husband got home from his retail job during the opening hour of my sinful show, he was awfully dismayed by the proportion of interest I had in the TV over him! He couldn’t bring himself to watch my drama fest with me, so he went upstairs and watched something of his own on the bedroom TV. What a thought! Husband gets home from work and wife is too involved watching other people kiss to even kiss him hello? They spend the evening watching TV in separate rooms, and there isn’t even a fight going on? Something is wrong with this picture!
Tip to Counteract the Damage: Make your partner more important than the TV. Pause, mute, or even turn off the TV when your significant other comes into the room. Decide together what to watch, and if you can’t come to an agreement, each should record his or her own show (if possible) to watch at a later time, or one should sacrifice his or her program for the good of the relationship.
3. You, TV, make me a boring partner. When I spend hours watching TV, I become a passive receiver of life. TV takes away the need to create my own conversation, ponder my own thoughts, and get off my butt to do something productive with life. TV promotes mental lethargy. If relationships are about helping each other to grow to our full potential, my husband and I are barely scratching the surface of the job. Sure, we might learn something interesting on the History Channel, get home design tips from HGTV, or spend a little time discussing an interesting episode of House, but we are mostly absorbing mindless, morally corrupt, or crude fictional human interactions. We are not engaging each other or interacting with the real world. We are losing so much time!
Tip to Counteract the Damage: Choose a stimulating activity, such as pursuing a hobby or doing word games together, for you and your partner to work on when you are not in front of the TV. I truly believe we all fall short of our intellectual potential. Make it a goal to help your partner get to his or hers, and you will be surprised how much more fulfilled you feel, both individually and in your relationship.
And so, I challenge you to battle the social drainer that is the TV. Bring the life and spark back into your relationship. Try to keep the TV off for a night and see what happens. (I tried this last night without success. I will try again!) My hope is to wean my husband and me away from the TV and successfully implement some of these tips I have listed here. Hopefully I will one day return with an article about how giving up TV bettered my relationship! Until then… happy reality!