For most of us in relationships, there are those times where we feel a bit of a disconnect with our partners, right? Like, we get so wrapped up with routine, chores, jobs, assignments, studies and activities that we look up suddenly and realize there is some kind of emotional distance. Until lately, I never imagined that TV (or rather, what we watch on TV) could actually also cause a disconnect. Like most people, I love watching TV and I have some channels that I could do a Friday night vigil on. Was it affecting my relationship in any way? You bet, it did!
Some weeks ago, one of my husband’s friends came by to watch the Champions League finals at ours, and the boys thoroughly had their fun. Never been a sports fanatic myself but the excitement that preceded this Real Madrid-Atletico Madrid game made me sit quietly and try to figure out for the umpteenth time what was so fancy about football. Three times during the course of the match, Solomon made comments about how lucky my husband is, to have a wife who enjoys watching soccer. YIMU of life! I eventually had to tell him that I wasn’t a fan, it was just curiosity that had me stuck to the couch. So the game ended after the penalty play offs and Real Madrid clinched the title, but hubby’s friend stayed another hour to discuss and comment on the game with his friend.
As he finally got up to leave, he turned to me suddenly and asked “but Ify, what do you women see in Zeeworld and Telemundo?” Before I could answer, Hubby told him I wasn’t a soap opera chic, but that the way I watch talk shows and reality TV ehnnnn! Solomon then sat back on the couch and started to complain bitterly about his wife’s addiction to TV; especially soaps. According to him, the whole thing was tearing their marriage apart because it had gotten to the point where he had to go to friends’ houses or viewing centers to watch matches despite being the one who pays for cable. Hubby recommended dual view; ‘that way, she can watch her channels in one room, while you enjoy your games in another’. Solomon shook his head and said ‘that is still not a solution, because she would just lock herself up in the room all day, and even forget that there are other people in the house; and that’s my main problem; our TV preferences do not allow us spend time with each other anymore’.
I left them to clear my kitchen and while doing the dishes, I pondered on the issue Solomon had raised. I remembered the number of times Hubby and I had squabbles over TV. We would be seated together enjoying a good movie, they would go to commercials and Hubby would flip channels to something else that is also interesting. Few minutes later, he would return to the previous movie and we would most likely have missed a few lines or action. I was always frustrated! In two hours, we could have breezed through like five different movies and I would end up confused about at least four of them! But it was an abomination for hubby to sit through a commercial! Let’s not even get started on my love for talk shows! At some point, we did start watching TV in separate rooms and only came together for movies and series that we both love and enjoy. When we have to watch a movie together, I beg him before hand not to flip channels once I am emotionally vested, and he now uses commercials-time to check his emails and social media accounts.
A good friend has also found a means that works for her. They both record their personal favorites to watch when the other party is busy, while watching entertainment that they both like when they are together. The reality is that television is such a blessing! I am a sucker for talk shows because of how much I learn from them. TV channels provide entertainment, education, information and relaxation for every one of us. But this shouldn’t be at the detriment of our relationships. I did a small poll within my circle of friends at work, and I found that most of them spend at least three/four hours on week nights in front of the television. That’s like ample time that couples should actually spend together! So when in between the hours of TV time do we actually find time to talk about work, socials, politics and so on with our spouses? More importantly; when do we gist and chat with our partners and keep up with their individual lives and also let them into our own personal world? The unseen reality becomes a situation whereby couples live together ‘happily’ but are slowly becoming strangers.
An online study conducted by www.Recombu.com/digital which polled over 1,400 couples showed only 15% of cohabiting couples watch TV together, 25% spend at least three weeknights watching TV in separate rooms and another quarter admitted they won’t let their loved ones come between them and their favourite TV show! Anyone who is in touch with the news knows that divorce rate is extremely high, and increasing significantly every year…even with the advancement in technology that has tried to bridge gaps and bring couples closer. It is so easy to think all is well in MarriageVille because you both get home at 7pm and go to bed at 10/11pm; but how much of those four hours daily are actually spent connecting, communicating and chatting together?
So where do we go from here? I think that every so often, we could just go along with what our partners want to do; even if it’s not our own personal choice of entertainment. I think that our partners would appreciate and value the fact that we sat through their favourite TV programmes with them, and who knows? You just might get converted in the process! I know one or two movie series that hubby is now a die-hard fan of, because he decided to watch some episodes with me and vice versa. Of course, we don’t have to do that all the time; but a little sacrifice often goes a long way in relationships.
Switch off the TV sometimes; it helps. A friend of mine once joked saying the best chats and conversations she has with her husband is when their cable network is acting up or the subscription is off. That is when she gets his undivided attention and not the semi-conscious nods, monosyllabic answers and unfocused glances she gets when the remote control is in his hand. As an alaróró that I am, who doesn’t like my cable subscription ‘wasting’, Hubby and I have found the blessing that is audio channels…and they have music for every mood! All you need do is select your audio channel and viola…it’s time to talk and unwind with cool music (from the 80s if you want) playing at the background!
This sounds like a no-brainer, but it is a reminder we all need to hear. Marriages are built on good communication. Your relationship with your TV shouldn’t be stronger than your relationship with your spouse. Any more suggestions from the house? Let’s share thoughts in the comment section…