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Tuning Out the TV

When radio was at its zenith, families would gather around to listen to the stars of the day speak to them right in their living rooms, so early radio served as a unifier. In addition, in the early days of television, when the set was huge and the screen was small, families continued to assemble together to watch their favorite broadcasts from the limited choices available.

Later, costs decreased, so now many homes have two or more sets. Channels proliferated, so that many programs are available for every possible family niche, including the dog. With the advent of the remote control, men and women drifted off into differing viewing habits. The bottom line is this: Television ceased to be a unifier and became a divisive force. While he is in the den, thumb glued to the remote watching ten sporting events at the same time, she is in the bedroom watching a movie that a few months ago could be seen only in theaters. A romantic picture this isn't.

Americans are not likely to stop watching television just because someone suggests that their romantic lives are taking a backseat to the real joys of life. We're hooked; there's no getting around it. But TV can become slightly less obtrusive and your home environment slightly more romantic if you try a few "adjustments":

  • Never put the television on as background noise. Many homes have a TV constantly on in every room. You wonder how the people living under this bombardment can even think, much less hold a conversation. This habit does terrible harm to your relationship. Even if you choose to have the TV on as background when you're all alone, shut off that squawk box when your spouse or children come home. You may discover that you can communicate with each other instead of allowing paid actors to do all the talking.
  • Do not watch television during dinner, unless you are eating alone. Dinnertime is the perfect opportunity for a couple, or an entire family, to share conversation and reconnect after having been away from each other all day. This process is very important for rekindling romance. With CNN and other news channels, you can get the news at any time; so don't force yourselves into silence at the dinner table because of the TV.
  • Think about what you want to watch ahead of time. If you're struck with the urge to vegetate for a bit by staring at the tube, then select a program from the paper and tune in to that one show. If you want to hunt around during the commercials, feel free to do so, but turn the set off at the end of the show you originally selected. That will limit the time you spend in front of the TV.
  • Plan your viewing times together. If he wants to watch something from 8 to 9 p.m. and she wants to watch something else from 9 to 10 p.m., then the whole evening will be devoted to television. If you have two TV sets, why not tape the 8 p.m. show, so you can each watch your shows at the same time and spend the hour between 8 and 9 doing something together. It doesn't even have to be particularly romantic — you could be doing a load of laundry together — but as long as you're paying attention to each other, the time spent will be good for your relationship.
  • Don't count TV time as romantic time. If the two of you do watch a program together (yes, it does happen once in a while), don't count that as quality time, unless it is something like a documentary on The History Channel that leads to a discussion. Intellectual stimulation is romantic; paired vegging out isn't.
  • Keep late night viewing to a minimum. Although watching late night television is okay, it shouldn't become a religion so that you have to watch the news or a talk show every single night. Making love to your partner, or even talking with him or her, should take priority over any TV program. If you can't break this habit in a piecemeal fashion, then you're better off stopping altogether.
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