Family life can be incredibly demanding, using up a lot of your energy reserves, as well as the time you would have previously spent sleeping or relaxing. When you have to work, tend to your children’s various needs and wants, keep your home clean and prepare food throughout the week, it can be easy to get into a routine of watching TV when it comes to spending quality time with your partner.
For most people this involves collapsing onto the sofa, remote in hand and television firmly on. But if you fall into the habit of doing this every day then you may quickly find that you’re in a bit of a rut.
The limbo of watching TV
After the chaos of feeding, bathing, clothing and putting children to bed, cleaning up the kitchen and preparing for the next day, there’s barely any time left in the evening. If you choose to spend what little time you have in front of the television, chances are you and your partner are having little, if any, quality time together. Studies show that watching too much television can lead to feelings of isolation and, in severe cases, depression. Furthermore, the relationships portrayed in TV shows and films can give us a false sense of shortcoming in our own relationships, as well as making us yearn for a romantic ideal that’s completely unattainable.
Finally, if you find you’re watching television particularly late in the evening then staring at this big blue screen could be having an adverse affect on the quality of your sleep. The bright light is telling our bodies that it’s daytime, even though this is the time that we should be beginning to wind down. Even tiny electronics can promote wakefulness when we should be resting.
Read more: How To Unwind From Work In The Evening
How to escape the limbo
There are many things you can do instead of planting yourself in front of the screen, though exhausted you may find the prospect of doing so very exciting. If you’ve been finding that you and your partner have been missing out on important quality time then the optimum time to reconnect is when your children are asleep. You don’t have to be particularly inventive about how to spend your time with each other. Certain things you could do include:
Have a conversation
Asking about your partner’s day and just generally trying to reconnect is important for the health of your relationship. First, schedule in a fifteen minute ‘meeting‘ to discuss your children’s matters and then allow yourselves the indulgence of just focusing on one another for a little while.
This can be full blown ‘adult time’ or just cuddling if you’re too tired, but it’s all important. Showing affection in this way releases oxytocin, making us even more attracted to our partners. A regular rush of oxytocin then releases dopamine, which essentially makes you addicted to your partner. And that’s a certain way of keeping your relationship strong.
Play a game
This one requires a little more energy but is bound to have you both laughing. Would you rather? is an interesting game and will help you to keep on learning about one another. Playing card games is another option and you could come up with some interesting forfeits for the loser. . .
Read a book together
Have your own personal book-club and read the same book which you can later discuss together. You could even tweak this slightly so that you read aloud to one another. Judy Ford, LSCW author of Every Day Love: The Delicate Art of Caring for Each Other, believes that ‘softly sharing a poem, a paragraph from a favourite book or offering sincere appreciation will not only get your tired body through the night [but] you’ll wake up refreshed and ready to meet the day.’
Catch some zzz’s
It might not be the most exciting option but working, tidying and looking after children all takes its toll. You owe it to each other to spend time together, but you’re also not going to be yourselves if you try to exist on little sleep. Cuddle up together and plan a date night for later in the week.
When to embrace the TV limbo
Spending time together in the ways listed above will help to remind you that you were partners first before you became parents. It can be easy to get lost in the world of parenting and having to organise every last aspect of your children’s lives, but the exhaustion that occurs as a result shouldn’t distract you from tending to your other half. Sometimes though, the only thing you want to do is slump in front of the television and forget yourself for a little while.
Luckily, doing this with your partner isn’t as bad as you may think, though only if you’re watching the same thing. A study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships indicates that watching the same TV shows and movies can help to create a shared social reality with one another. Couples who have shared friends don’t need to watch television together to achieve this, but those that don’t may find that watching shows together can account for this deficit in closeness. Sharing media in this way can create a greater relationship quality overall. The important thing is knowing when it’s time to switch off and look at each other, rather than a screen.
How do you and your partner spend time together at the end of the day? Let us know in the comments section.