Did you know that the average American household has more televisions in the home than people? And, did you know that the average time spent per month watching television for the AVERAGE television viewer is over 151 hours per month. 151 hours per month equates to around 37.75 hours per week, and just over 5 hours per day.
5 HOURS PER DAY!
According to market studies, this number is on the constant increase as television viewing availability is becoming more and more convenient. Several years ago, without 3G, 4G, Wi-Fi and other forms of internet access that makes television viewing on the go possible, it was not possible to spend your time away from home watching your favorite sitcom or sports program. Today, people are stuck to the boob tube in their vehicles, on public transportation and can even access their favorite shows on wireless mobile devices (including phones) from nearly anywhere on the planet. Suffice it to say that we are quickly becoming a society of couch potato television addicts.
But what happens when television viewing becomes an obsession? What should you do if your spouse watches too much TV and it begins to affect the management of day-to-day life? How do you respond to someone when they are constantly complaining that they don’t have enough hours in the day to get their work done, or tend to chores – yet haven’t missed an episode of their favorite show in 6 months straight? After all, 37.5 hours per week – which is on the ‘average’ end of television viewing time, is quite a bit of time spent in front of a television screen.
According to Thriving Now psychologists that offer an online resource to empower people to live their best lives, television watching is one of the most accepted forms of passive entertainment and self-soothing mechanisms known to society today. Unfortunately, because it is so generally accepted, most people have a difficult time admitting that they are watching too much TV, or that TV in general is getting in the way of their happiness and effectiveness in life. The website also goes on to say that a spouse who spends their time watching TV, rather than interacting with their family – and in lieu of getting associated tasks done is simply using television as an escape.
It’s easy for you – or for other people to pinpoint the problem in someone else’s life. The busy wife would have time to get everything done in the course of the day if she was willing to turn off the television a few hours per day. Or, the husband whose life is scheduled around the different seasons of sporting events, so much so – that he would rather stay home and watch TV than leave the house and who stays up so late that he is left tired day after day, would benefit greatly from knowing when to say when as it pertains to his television viewing. But it is not so easy to force someone else to change.
If your spouse watches too much TV, or is watching too many movies – or is spending an exuberant amount of time playing online video games or Facebooking, it is no doubt disruptive to the relationship. One of the only things that YOU can do, is to shine a light on the situation and let them know how YOU feel. Before you go on the attack, you might want to spend a week or two keeping accurate track of how much time they spend on passive entertainment so that you have facts to present them with. When you show them that they just sat down and watched 41 hours of television in a week’s time, or played online for 60 hours per week – it becomes sort of difficult for them to refute your claims that they might be obsessed. Plus, presenting them with facts – void of emotion and nagging – enables you to get your point across without causing anger or resentment. Most often, in relationships, when a spouse is constantly nagging – the ‘nagged’ partner will often react in a manner that is counter productive. For instance, by tuning out even more or watching more television.
According to www.turnoffyourtv.com, a group designed to help people break free from the addiction of TV viewing – TV is an addiction when the following occurs:
“When the habit interferes with the ability to grow, to learn new things, to lead an active life, then it does constitute a kind of dependence and should be taken seriously."
As far back as 1990, a time in life when television viewing was less accessible than it is today – The American Psychological Association dubbed television addiction as an addiction similar to pathological gambling. In 1990, a symposium at the convention of the American Psychological Association developed the definition of TV addiction as "heavy television watching that is subjectively experienced as being to some extent involuntary, displacing more productive activities, and difficult to stop or curtail."
When changing any habits in life, it is important to replace them rather than try to simply give them up or quit cold turkey. If you are married to someone who watches TV too much, you can be extremely helpful in helping him or her find other, more useful things to do with their time. Perhaps your entire family can learn to monitor and restrict television viewing. It is also important to come up with activities that will help you and your spouse connect to one another that do not involve television watching. Slowly, but surely replacing TV time with other more meaningful activities will help to curb the TV addiction.
At the end of the day, it is your partner’s decision whether or not they will break the excessive TV habit or not. For many people the obsession with the television can and will cause such a divide in the relationship that it may difficult to fix and separation may be necessary. If you are at this point, you may want to hand your partner an ultimatum and let them decide for themselves whether their virtual world is more important than their real world.