Though they sat inches apart, the young couple’s only interaction was a mutual laugh or a request to change the volume. The images flashing on a TV just a few feet from their faces were often violent and sexual in nature, but they were intrigued by the plot and kept watching.
Maybe you can relate. Recently at a newly married couples small group that my husband and I attended, couples proudly shared that they spent most of their free time together binge watching shows like “Game of Thrones” and “Shameless.” This “harmless” pastime might be hurting their relationship more than any of us realize.
Reasons TV might be ruining your marriage:
See if this sounds familiar: You get home from work, eat dinner, turn on the TV, watch several shows with (or without) your spouse and then go to bed. Repeat the next day.
If that’s you, you’re not alone. According to Nielsen, American adults spend 11 hours and 27 minutes per day connected to media. Yet, with all the time spent on TV, we can’t seem to find time to pray or read a devotional together.
How you spend that space in between church, work and friends is vitally important to the health of your relationship. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with watching TV together sometimes or having a favorite show that you watch regularly. But if that’s all you do, you’re missing out and your marriage never reaches its potential.
Have you ever been watching a show or movie when suddenly a slew of bad words, a rape scene or a bloody fight made you cringe? Yet you kept watching, shrugging your shoulders, telling yourself that you’re a Christian and you “know it’s bad but it won’t affect you.”
Knowing poison is poison doesn’t make it OK to drink. What you feed your mind isn’t all that different. In a world where even many Christians are addicted to pornography, a TV show with barely clothed women is equivalent to taking an alcoholic to a bar.
What you watch with your spouse might invite lust and impurity into your marriage. And language and violence don’t exactly encourage a loving relationship with your spouse either.
Discover the Strengths and Weaknesses of Your Marriage
Why does it matter?
Francis Chan wrote in his book You and Me Forever that we should imagine the day our spouse meets God and help them be beautiful for Him.
Because I am crazy about Lisa, I want her to have a great life. But more than that, I want her to have a great eternity. I want her to look back at her life without regret. I want her to be confident that the time she spent on earth prepared her for heaven. Most importantly, I want her to hear God say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matt. 25:23).
God gave you the spouse you have for a purpose. Marriage is meant to be more than just having a Netflix binge buddy. There are spiritual implications for the way you spend your time together.
What can you do?
Earlier this year, my husband and I decided to take a 30-day fast from TV. We felt that we were spending so much time with TV that we were becoming addicted. At first, we didn’t know what to do with ourselves or how to wind down for the evening. But after a week without TV, we were reading books together, praying together, having real conversations and spending more time outside. Once the 30 days were up, we didn’t even want to watch TV.
Eventually we did turn the TV on again. But we noticed that we had changed. We had a much stronger filter for the content on the screen. Also, we were closer as a couple and had rediscovered that we enjoyed spending time together.
You might not want to stop watching TV as we did, but maybe you can try watching one episode instead of five or only watching three days a week instead of seven. And maybe you could choose shows with better content.
What else can you fill your time with?
Here’s a list of things you can do with your spouse when you’re not watching TV:
- Read a novel
- Go for a walk and hold hands
- Play a game
- Listen to a sermon
- Look through old photo albums and reminisce
- Sit on the porch with a cup of coffee and talk about your day
Whatever you choose, it will be worth it. TV in itself is not bad, but it may not be best for every spare second you have. First Corinthians 6:12 says “‘All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be dominated any anything.”