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Must See TV?

When their viewing habits caused conflict, Daniel and Angela Darling realized they needed to come up with a "TV guide."

Angela's Side: He Watches Too Much TV!

It seems as if every night the first thing Dan wants to do after work is plop in front of the TV, remote in hand, and settle in for the evening. I feel as if it doesn't even matter if I'm there or not!

Must See TV?

Must See TV?

Growing up, my home was broken, noisy, and chaotic. Either the television was blaring or my siblings were fighting. And now, as a teacher, I spend my entire day in controlled chaos, with young children whose energy and noise levels are extremely high. So I need to come home to peace and quiet, where I can enjoy one-on-one time with my husband.

It's not that I'm against Dan watching TV—or even that I'm opposed to the programs he watches. It just seems there's always something he has to watch—a playoff game, a political debate, a news program.

When I complain about the amount of time he spends watching television versus the amount of time he spends with me, he argues that he's trying to stay informed.

I'd just like a little more attention—and peace and quiet. Is that too much to ask?

Dan's Side: I need to relax and unwind

After a long day at work, I like to relax. I unwind best by watching the news or catching sports.

When I was growing up, I was rarely allowed to watch television. Instead, my family focused on listening to the radio, reading books, or conversing. We were always well informed—whether it was sports, politics, or current events.

While I know Angela enjoys peace and quiet, I work in peace and quiet all day in my job as a writer and editor.

It frustrates me when Angela tells me I don't spend enough time with her, that I ignore her in favor of the television. And it bothers me that she doesn't care if she knows the day's news or current events. I think she should be informed so she can more easily relate to people.

I wish she'd take interest in my pursuits. Why can't we sit down and enjoy a ballgame or watch a newscast together?

What Dan and Angela did

Angela continued to confront Dan about his television habits—with little success. Finally, she decided to try a new approach. Instead of nagging Dan about watching television, she prayed that God would show him how his viewing habits were negatively impacting their marriage.

A month later, Angela went out of town for a few days to visit her family. Dan had free rein over the house—and the television. He parked himself in front of the tube, grabbed the remote, and watched a football game. After the game, he surfed over to a cable news program, and then flipped back for the late edition of Sportscenter.

Before he knew it, it was midnight and he'd spent his entire evening on the couch, exercising his thumbs. That's when it dawned on him: his innocent "hobby" was actually an obsession. "I hated to admit it," says Dan, "but Angela was right. If I wasn't careful, watching TV would overtake my life and my marriage.

"It was as if God spoke to me that night and told me that my interests were getting out of hand. I was starting to put them ahead of what was important—loving and honoring my wife."

When Angela returned home, Dan told her what had happened. They discussed how their backgrounds affected their attitudes toward television and how they could balance television with their desire to enjoy each other's company.

"I realized we could compromise on this issue and enjoy our pursuits together," says Angela. "Keeping my mouth shut and simply praying about it really worked!" It also opened her eyes to her own attitudes. "I finally saw how Dan's work environment fueled his desire to 'clear his mind' by watching television." She discovered that "if I honor his desires, he's more willing to spend time with me."

Dan also understood why Angela's childhood and work environment influenced her need for less television.

"Our discussion really helped me respect her desire for a peaceful home," he says. "And my television marathon evening showed me that my viewing habits bordered on unhealthy."

Dan took seriously Angela's concern about being obsessed with news and sports. Angela agreed that she'd stay up-to-date on current events so she could better relate.

Their conversation prompted some ground rules. Two or three nights a week they set aside a block of time to watch the news or sports together. On other occasions when Dan really wants to watch television, Angela takes advantage of the time to enjoy her own hobby, scrapbooking, which she does on the living room floor next to Dan.

They've found programs they enjoy watching together, such as interior design shows or documentaries. "I didn't realize how much fun we could have snuggling together on the couch watching our favorite show!" Angela says.

This new plan has moved their relationship to a higher level of closeness. Many nights the remote remains untouched. "Angela has helped me value quiet time," says Dan.

Of course, the transition has had its bumps. Finding that perfect balance between obsession and abstinence has been tricky. Angela occasionally squirms through a nine-inning baseball game. And Dan still fights the urge to ignore Angela in favor of the tube.

But they've learned that through prayer, accountability, and putting the other person first, the TV doesn't have to control their marriage. Instead it can be a source of enjoyment and relaxation.

Daniel and Angela Darling have been married 2 years and live in Illinois.

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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