Relationship Connection: My husband is hooked on televised sports

Question:

My question is how to deal with the problem of husbands “hooked” on TV sports that spend hours each week, year round resulting in wives who feel resentful that he prefers spending his time that way than with her? Is there a compromise that might be acceptable to both parties?  Do men realize how unhappy it makes their wives but they don’t care?

Answer:

I must confess that I’m having difficulty isolating your question to just the husbands. While it might be true that lots of guys are hooked on televised sports, I think it’s also safe to say that both men and women are hooked on screens of all shapes and sizes. In fact, my observation is that this discussion needs to be more inclusive of both genders and all ages if we’re really going to address the problem of checking out of family life to watch a screen.

Even though I still hear the familiar complaints from wives about their husband’s sports addictions, I’m hearing much more than that from the husbands. In my more than fifteen years of counseling couples, I have watched a steady increase of complaints coming from the husbands about their wives getting hooked on social media (i.e., Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter) and neglecting family members.

I’m not suggesting one group is more hooked than the other. I can’t say that I even know which group struggles more. I can say that I know this isn’t just a guy problem. I would hope that both groups could be honest about the impact their distracted behaviors have on their families.

Dr. Joseph Cramer recently wrote a short piece for the Deseret News where he talked about emotional attunement between parents and children. He emphasized the need for parents to be emotionally tuned into the presence of those around them. He said that in order “to have perfect emotional attendance, a person has to be aware of his or her absence.” I found this thought to be quite profound, as I know it’s not always easy to be aware of when we are absent from our family members, even though we might be in the same room.

A few years ago my then 10 year-old son courageously asked me to not be on the phone when I picked him up from practice. I had no idea he even cared. He would climb in the truck and say very little on the short ride home. I mistakenly thought I could just finish up work calls before I arrived home. Little did I realize that as soon as my son entered my world, I was home and needed to be present.

In the same way, I challenge both men and women to be aware of their absences in their homes. Being home doesn’t equate to being present or connected to those you love. Before you criticize a family member’s absence because of a screen, look honestly at how present you are with your family. Sometimes people create a chain reaction of disconnection when they assume their presence doesn’t matter to others in the family.

If you have a loved one who is checked out on a screen, speak clearly about the impact this has on your connection with them. Let them know how much their presence and awareness of what’s going on in the family makes a difference. There is a place for screens in a family. In fact, we have several screens in our home. However, we don’t turn to screens unless we make sure the relationships around us have what they need.

Competing with screens creates unhappiness and needs to be addressed directly until it is resolved. Compromise often misses the mark because it doesn’t fix what is causing the true source of pain. Addressing the feelings of loneliness and disconnection doesn’t require compromise. Instead, it creates awareness that family members need more connection and decisions are made to put the most important people first and screens second.

Take inventory of your screen habits in the family and make adjustments where necessary. This takes honesty, courage, and sacrifice. It’s much easier after a long day to check out in front of a screen than to spend time listening or engaging with a loved one. This is an investment that will produce a lifetime of joy and satisfaction.

Stay connected!

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Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.

Email: geoff@lovingmarriage.com

Twitter: @geoffsteurer

Facebook: facebook.com/GeoffSteurerMFT

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

 

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8 Comments

  • Johnson June 11, 2014 at 10:23 am

    Most of the women around here are always talking or texting on their cell phones about themselves. How do they have time to notice what some guy is doing?

    • Drea June 11, 2014 at 12:52 pm

      Did you read the article? That’s exactly what he said, both genders are guilty and we need to realize when we’re “absent” from our homes and families.

  • Johnson June 11, 2014 at 11:10 am

    Most of the women here are boring because they are small town cookie cutter women (they all look and act the same). For this guy, watching sports on TV may be a temporary escape from a boring woman. Besides, it gives her time to go do her mandatory boring church stuff she spends hours talking about or the other boring women doing their boring church stuff.

    • Craig June 12, 2014 at 9:51 am

      While I agree with you, I have to add most of the born and bred men here are look alike clones too. Most look like they need more sun, Many look like the popping fresh dough boy. Then there’s that early balding taking place. Maybe too many shared genes from all of the early inbreeding?

      • JOHNSON June 12, 2014 at 4:10 pm

        Agree with you there about the men acting like clones. However, I think they’ve had too much sun; cooked their brains. Too few seem to be able to think outside the box or outside their bubbleworld.

  • EL JEFE June 12, 2014 at 8:41 am

    I wonder about those women (spouses and girlfriends) who are hooked to the gym? Instead of being home with their families, they are at the gym supposedly working on their bodies. To be fair , there are those husbands and boyfriends who are also hooked to the gym…..who are sometimes there to work on those women’s bodies.

    • JOHNSON June 12, 2014 at 4:14 pm

      Rumor about some gyms is that they’re meat markets where people go to hook up, possibly for physical encounters. Is “I’m going to the gym” just another way of saying “I’m looking to get laid”?

  • Lost Johnson June 12, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    I prefer the women hooked on gyms and church than the other alternatives

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