Have you ever tried giving up TV for a night? Or a week? Or a month? I’m not talking about times when you were too busy to turn on the TV. I’m talking about those nights you’re home and have nothing to do.
About a month ago, a remodeling project forced my husband and me to disconnect our TV so we could tear out the walls in our family room. We’ve always been a one-TV family, so that meant no TV for a while. And, because this is mostly a do-it-yourself project, it turned into quite awhile.
Since ditching the tube, I’ve …
- Bonded with my husband. Like many couples, my husband and I have very different tastes in TV viewing, so to keep the peace, we often end up watching the same shows over and over, including reruns we practically know by heart. And we sit there not talking. Now that we’re tuned out, we’re more tuned into each other. Research confirms that TV can be bad for relationships. A 2012 study from Albion College said watching too much romance on TV could lead to unrealistic romantic expectations. The research showed that couples who believed TV couples were true to life were more likely to cheat and less likely to stay in their own marriages. We hadn’t sunk that far into the abyss, but watching too much TV did make me feel worse about myself, my husband and our life together. We were in a rut.
- Savored every bite. We used to eat most of our dinners on trays in front of the TV, but now we sit at the dining room table for leisurely meals, lingering afterward for conversation.
- Challenged our minds. One night we played Scrabble at the table after dinner. Many nights we pick up our books and read together.
- Enjoyed evenings out. Some nights we look for a reason to get out of the house—maybe a movie, a restaurant or bar, a cultural event or a visit to see friends. Yes, even on a “school night”!
This TV void really got me thinking. There are so many negative things about TV. For example, it can …
Make you dull: If all you can talk about is the latest TV show you watched, you may not be a very interesting person.
Hurt relationships: You aren’t likely interacting with your spouse or kids when you watch a show together. If the TV is off, you may do something together, like talk, take a bike ride, cook or play a game.
Limit creativity and opportunities: You’ll never be the next Steve Jobs or Martha Stewart—or even find a new hobby—if you spend all your time staring at the tube.
Waste time: The average U.S. adult watches TV for over four hours a day. Think what you could do with that time!
Stress you out: You’ve wasted so much time that now you’re stressed about not having time to exercise, eat right, spend time with family or all the other things you meant to do before you plopped down to watch TV.
Lead to weight gain: Not only are you inactive while watching TV, but if you eat in front of the TV, you tend to consume more calories. That may not help your self-esteem, your health or your relationship.
Waste money: In addition to the ever-increasing costs of buying and operating a TV, watching all those ads influences us to spend more money.
So what’s a woman to do? Just click the off button and hide the remote. It may be difficult at first, especially if you have a hard-core TV habit. But, you may find you start to like it after a few days.
I’ve already told my husband that I enjoy having more time to talk and read together. We agreed we’ll continue having a TV-free night each week. It seems a good thing to pay more attention to each other and less to the TV.
Tell us how you manage TV watching in your home.