Why Does My Husband Watch So Much TV?

April 6, 2015

in Uncategorized

“Religion is the opiate of the masses.” ~ Karl Marx

“Karl never saw television!” ~ Me

Bored man watching TV © imageegami | dollarphotoclub.com

I used to watch a good deal of television. Aside from what I watched with Lori, when I was working nights I would often rent a movie to watch and unwind before I went to bed. I gradually realised how much of my life I was sacrificing to television and made changes. Now Lori and I usually watch one show (45 minutes as we usually avoid commercials) a night. Sometimes I still think it’s too much, but we do it together to relax, and it gives us some interesting conversation.

All of the above to say I get watching a lot of television. I think “relaxing” and “unwinding” are mostly excuses. Granted most of us are far too busy and stressed, but television is more of a way of hiding than anything else. It’s a way to numb out our minds so we can stop thinking about the things we don’t want to think about. I think men are both better at this numbing and more desirous of doing it, which may make us particularly susceptible.

I think one of the major underlying issues is running from our sense of failure. Not just failure as you may think of it, we also feel we have failed because we have let life get away from us. Too much boring life and not enough adventure is something any man wants to forget. Television does more than let us forget, it also allows us to live vicariously. Sports, science fiction, adventure, and some reality TV give us the chance to feel the thrill second hand. It’s not the real thing, but it’s better than nothing, right?

Of course, it’s actually worse than nothing because it eats our time and saps our motivation. Rather than getting out there and doing something new and exciting, we watch others do new and exciting things. I have mentioned men’s need for adventure a number of times on this blog. A lack of adventure may be a cause of his excessive TV watching, and a bit of adventure could get him away from the TV. 

~ Paul – I’m XY, and I’ve decided I have better things to do!

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Dr Richard Norris April 6, 2015 at 1:55 am

We stopped watching TV 17 years ago, so this is a non issue for us. However, we men do watch way too much TV.

Here’s an article I wrote on it’s impact on family life.

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Paul Byerly April 6, 2015 at 11:23 am

Great article – thanks!
34 hours? I don’t think I did that at my worst! Now it would take me almost two months to rack up that much tube time.
According to a fairly recent study (http://tcrn.ch/19Z4dNb) women spend more time watching TV than men. I would bet this is not apples to apples. Men can sit down and not move for hours, while women often have the TV as they do other things. I know women who can’t cook without the TV going, but they are still getting a meal made.
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Jerry Stumpf April 6, 2015 at 4:30 am

Guilty! At least for the “excuses” you mention – “relaxing” and “unwinding” – It gives me time to think of absolutely nothing for about 2 hours at night.

My problem is that if I read, or work on the computer, I am wired.

Thanks for the nudge!
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Paul Byerly April 6, 2015 at 11:26 am

Unplugging my brain is certainly a big part of TV use. In the past if I did not watch a couple of hours before bed it took me forever to get to sleep. I finally realise the real problem was not knowing how to fall asleep, and worked on that. A bit of tube time is still part of the process for me most nights, but it’s way less time and I can get to sleep without it.
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Jenny April 6, 2015 at 7:21 am

We watch too much tv, and I can’t blame it on my husband, it’s my fault. With small kids we have to stay home, it gets boring. I do notice when I cut back on tv, I always like the way I spend my time better. I like your idea of limiting it to one show per night.
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Paul Byerly April 6, 2015 at 11:27 am

It also forces you to make decisions about what you watch, which is a good thing!
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libl April 6, 2015 at 8:33 am

I rarely watch TV. My hubby can do marathons of it. IF I do watch a show, I have to do something besides….knit, mend, sew, exercise, fold and sort laundry. Just sitting there staring into phony oblivion feels horrible unless I have a killer head cold and need to blow time while bedridden and miserable.

The biggest issues I have with hubby’s massive TV viewing are 1. He doesn’t always do what needs to be done around the home, nor does he help me when I am swamped. 2. His filter is numb from so much TV and he doesn’t always realize what he is watching or allowing our kids to watch with him is entirely inappropriate. 3. It keeps me out of the bedroom. Yes, I can choose to sit with him and knit, and sometimes I do, but often I am swamped with other chores, in need of silence after a busy, loud day with the kids, or I hate what he is watching. 4. It lessens my attraction to him. A couch potato is highly unsexy. Seeing my husband put a model together with our son, or join me in a card game, or tinker around the house is FAR sexier than the lifeless form blank-staring at the glowing screen. I think he could make better use of his time and brain waves.

He is out of shape, the house needs work, we are deeply in debt…those issue should take priority over endless reruns. One the flip side, I spend too much time on Facebook and need to stop. Now!


Paul Byerly April 6, 2015 at 11:37 am

I think this is a common gender difference, men can just stare for hours while women are usually doing something else.
I would suggest all the (very real) problems you list are not because of his TV use. He wants to avoid these things, and TV is how he does it. Of course it also becomes a habit, which makes it much harder to change even if he wanted to.
It’s a difficult thing to discuss because it bring on condemnation even if you don’t intend it. He knows all the things he should be doing. Small changes are slow, but they are the best bet.
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libl April 6, 2015 at 1:26 pm

I agree. As I have read on your page, the more mature spouse changes first. Lead by example. I also need to remember a couple of things:

1. This isn’t new. He was like this when we met. He comes from a family that has the TV on all.the.time. So, this is part of the man I chose to marry.

2. He has a chronic illness which makes him tired a lot. I know when I am tired, not feeling well, or depressed, I can’t muster much more than finger swiping my smartphone.

There are plus sides to it. He watches educational programming with the kids or I can pop in a movie and the kids’ll dogpile on him and I can get some me time in.


Paul Byerly April 7, 2015 at 10:56 am

Good for you for you for seeing this is who you married. Still hope it can change, but it’s not like he lied to you about who he was.
Chronic illness is tough, for the one who has it and for their family. You have my prayers!
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Kay April 22, 2015 at 7:02 am

Is there a respectful way to talk about this with a husband? I don’t think my husband realizes just how much sex he has missed out on because he does not turn off the tv until after 11pm, and with three very small children, I simply cannot stay up that late since I will be up multiple times with the baby. I am also currently fuming because he watched a rated R movie the entire evening yesterday so he spent no time with our girls (who are only awake two hours after he gets home from work), and our oldest (5) was trying to get his attention and couldn’t, so she sat down and watched with him. I am NOT okay with a five year old watching a rated R movie. She already has bad dreams about school shootings and the house burning down, so how is watching a movie like Jupiter Rising with a 5 year old a good idea?!


Paul Byerly April 23, 2015 at 10:54 am

The sex issue can probably be addressed directly – “I’d like to have sex with you more often, but I can’t stay up late enough.” You might suggest he come to bed with you and then get back up if he wants to watch a movie. This would also move his TV time past the kids bed time.
The other is going to be tricky because he clearly does not see an issue with it. A discussion about why your daughter has bad dreams and what you can do as parents to help her might be a good start. Talk about ways to limit her exposure to things which will worry or scare her.
You have my prayers!


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