TV coming between my husband and me

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By Nyambura Maina

My husband is addicted to the news. We have been married for two years now. In the beginning, our relationship was wonderful. Lately, however, he comes home and goes straight for the TV. He watches the all the evening news bulletins and then watches CNN until 2am. On weekends when there are fewer news broadcasts, he goes through the weekend newspapers, devouring them from cover to cover. I can’t stand it anymore. My friends tell me that I should not complain because I have a husband who at least comes home early everyday. Is there any remedy that can fix this unbearable situation?

Stella, Kerugoya

Yours is a common complaint. The honeymoon period of marriage misleads many couples into believing that their relationship will forever remain intimate and fulfilling. However, with time it becomes apparent that a lot of work is needed to keep the flames burning. In your case there seems to be a total communication breakdown. Your needs are not being met and that leads to the frustration and anger that you are experiencing.

While sabotaging or getting rid of the TV might temporarily fix your problem, you do not want to spend your time planning passive-aggressive ways of dealing with this problem. Look for a solution that will last. You can begin by communicating to your husband that you need to be heard and that it hurts you when he ignores you and chooses to watch TV instead. The way in which you express this to him is very important. If you come across as nagging and whining then you can be sure that he will look for more ways to ignore you.

Communication that is judgmental will not work. For example, saying, “You never give me time” or “You are always glued to that TV of yours”, puts blame on your partner and he responds by going on the defensive. Try using ‘I’ instead of ‘you’. “I feel hurt and ignored when you get home and head straight for the TV” or “I would really like it if when you came home we spent some quality time together without any external interference. Is there a way we can find a way to do that together?” This leaves room for an open and honest exchange where you will not be using guilt to manipulate. You will also become more aware of your feelings and how to take responsibility for them.

Focusing on your partner’s faults and negative traits will only breed resentment and disharmony in your lives. Learn to appreciate the positive side of your husband and your relationship. Express that appreciation verbally on a regular basis and you might find your husband willing to compromise on the hours he puts in towards watching TV.

Common counsel

Expand your world

I had the same problem with my wife when we first started out, except that with me it was soccer that I had to watch on TV. I tried to play the role of being an attentive and loving husband, but I just could not bear to miss the game, especially when my team was playing. Things probably became worse for her when I decided to have my pals over to watch the game. She would give me the silent treatment all the time when I committed this offence. Nowadays I go out to watch the game and she keeps herself busy doing other things. I guess she resigned herself to the situation and decided that it was not worth the fight since I was not going to change.

Ernest, 29

Fighting a losing battle

Stella, you are fighting a losing battle. If you want to come out unscathed, then just accept your husband the way he is. You will drive yourself nuts praying for power cuts or a TV malfunction so that you can talk with your husband. This is the time to get involved in your own activities. The energy that you use getting worked up can be put to better use by focusing on what interests you. It may sound selfish, but putting yourself first will ensure that your marriage will survive. You will be happier and more confident and your husband might eventually take notice of you.

Caroline, 44

Take control of your feelings

The feelings that you are carrying with you now need to be sorted out soon before you land into the same problems that I did. My husband spent a lot of time away from me and when he was home he would also watch TV and totally cut me off. I would feel very angry, and when I couldn’t vent, the anger became depression. I chose to deal with it by looking for affection outside my marital boundaries. My lover satisfied my needs and at one point I thought that I was in love with him. My husband later found out and decided to leave me. I was devastated and I am still trying to put back the pieces of my life. Don’t go down this route.

Lois, 35

Misinterpreting his aloofness

I do not know when women will understand that when a man is watching TV he just wants to watch TV. It does not mean that he is no longer in love with her. Women are just too demanding — they want you to spend all your time and money on them. Men have needs too. One of these is to be left alone sometimes without being nagged about this or that. My advice to Stella would be just to leave the poor man alone and let him be.

Collins, 39

Count your blessings

Stella, you are lucky to have a husband who comes home early and does not indulge in pastimes like alcohol and other women. Reflect on your relationship over the last year or so and you might realise that you have extinguished the fire of your husband’s love. I counsel you to act immediately and bring this fire back lest your husband gets a ndogo ndogo or hits the bottle.

Wachira Muyah

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