With the quarantines and social restrictions enacted due to the pandemic, television viewing in many families has been on the rise.
According to research done by Comcast¹, Americans are viewing television 8 more hours per week than before the quarantines.
That makes sense for safety’s sake but doesn’t make our marriages any safer. Far from it!
Researchers have also discovered that television viewing contributes to unrealistic expectations in marriage. We want the idealized marriages portrayed in many of the oldie-but-goodie shows of the past.
Conversely, in order to keep us on the edge of our seats, many modern shows depict marriages in crisis mode. This can stir up conflict in our own marriages over the issues we identify with, being tempted to follow the lead of the characters.
Adding to that, television viewing can create a false sense of connection with those we are watching, leaving us with a desire to pay more attention to them than to our spouses.
“As TV excites our brain with stress, it warms it with something close to love. Because we like and empathize with characters in shows, our brain is swimming in oxytocin, a hormone associated with affection, bonding, and passion.”²
Even if television viewing is not a problem for you or your spouse, the problem is … it can easily grow to be! Especially if there’s a sense of disconnection and tension in your marriage already.
Your television can provide a wanted escape from your spouse, only intensifying the divide in marriage!
Let’s just agree. Our television viewing plays a huge role in shaping our attitudes and practices in life and marriage!
3 Ways to Guard Against Television Negatively Impacting Your marriage
1. Discuss how your television viewing might be negatively impacting each of you.
I know that what I’m suggesting will take great courage and grace to discuss. But, if you are a Christ-follower, remember that you are called to guard your heart and, by extension, your marriage.
We are called to throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles in life (Hebrews 12:1).
Hover over that Hebrews reference above and you’ll see that not only are we watching others on TV, but the Bible says we are being watched by a “great cloud of witnesses” as well. God, along with saints and angelic beings are cheering us on in the fight to do what’s right—to do what Christ would do!
Let’s give them a good show!
- You and your spouse, share with each other what sins your television watching might be tempting you, personally, to commit.
- What damage might your viewing be causing your marriage and family?
2. Determine certain boundaries for what to watch with your spouse.
Even if your spouse does not see eye-to-eye on these issues with you, discuss your preferences and convictions with each other anyway. Very often, we don’t even process out what we individually want and need in this regard.
Communicating about them can help us make better choices, instead of operating in the same ol’, same ol’ patterns.
Most of all, if you are a Christ-follower, you’ll want to consider what kinds of content Christ would want you to view or not view.
Consider how the influence of others impacted King Solomon’s heart …
As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. 1 Kings 11:4
Trust me! What you watch on television can have just as much influence over you—drawing you away from God and each other—as your spouse.
One word of warning on discussing these issues. Don’t let this discussion grow contentious! If it does, agree to step away and calm down before discussing it again. Also, praying before you discuss these issues—either on your own or with your spouse—can keep the focus on God’s love all throughout.
3. Consider setting time limits on your television viewing.
This, of course, means taking inventory of how much you’re currently watching television first. List the shows you watch each day and tabulate how much time it takes to watch them.
Then discuss with your spouse the following questions …
- Do you ever feel like the amount of television viewing we do on any given day is taking away from our relationship? If so, how would you want that to be different?
- What are some other options for finding relaxation and enjoyment together instead of watching TV? (Brainstorm here, allowing every idea to be a good one! Write them down, so you won’t forget to implement them!)
- What are some important activities we could be doing together that would deepen our bond as a couple? For more connection time ideas, click here.
Whatever you and your spouse decide, keep this Scripture in mind …
“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise . . .” Ephesians 5:15
This could also read more like, be very careful how much you watch TV, not watching unwisely and addictively but wisely and considerately.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Messy Marriage