Turn the TV off and appreciate your partner
Creators News Service
Most of us are smart enough not to go to a movie on a first date. We can get to know each other better while we eat in a quiet restaurant or walk through a park.
However, we seem to lose some of our smarts after we commit -- and sit in front of the TV an average of 21 hours a week. And it's not really three out of 24 hours; it's closer to three out of the seven hours we have left after sleep and work.
You might be thinking, like this reader did, that you already know your partner:
I didn't think people really changed, but we've grown apart. It's like we don't know each other anymore.
You can't just get to know a sweetheart once and for all. People are always evolving, learning what works and what doesn't, and learning more about themselves and what they truly want. Knowing each other is an ongoing process, made possible only by ongoing disclosure.
We list communication as one of the top two reasons for divorce -- it reads like common knowledge. Yet we don't take the time to communicate! Effective communication doesn't just happen. Two people have to be interested and attentive ? like two people wanting to get to know each other well enough to share a first kiss.
Flirt. Tickle each other. Tease each other. Ask about his day like you're really interested ? and give her a chance to answer.
It's unlikely that you're going to shift about six gears and have a heart-to-heart talk during the commercial break. You're more apt to go to the bathroom, get a bowl of popcorn ? or flip channels.
"The remarkable thing about television is that it permits several million people to laugh at the same joke and still feel lonely," said T.S. Eliot.
Of course, TV's not the only means we have of being together and still lonely. But, when it's consuming three hours a day, it's a factor that demands our attention.
Imagine what you could do with your partner in those three hours! Yes, that ? and that and that and that -- every day.
I can hear the objections, "Hey, watching TV is the only thing we do together." Think about the ramifications of that. It might be a relaxed way to spend a date once a month or even once a week ? but it's not a meaningful way to spend every date!
You can spend those three hours learning more about your sweetheart, yourself and life. You can satisfy some of your questions and dreams. You can be healthier and happier ? and teach your children how to have a meaningful relationship.
Go out to breakfast -- without the newspaper. Sit down to dinner and look at each other. If you're not used to doing that without distractions, it might be uncomfortable at first, a very telling sign. Do it enough to get comfortable with it!
If you have to do something, go for a walk or sit in front of the water on the beach. Spend quality time together, giving yourselves a chance to open up and get interested.
If you're bored and boring, plan something interesting to do together. Rent a canoe, go to a museum, take a massage class together. Life is full of choices.
Sitting in front of the TV, you just might forget that ? or get a distorted view of the options. You can't really live life the way actors do it on a TV screen, but you have your very own life to live.
You have (or can have) your very own sweetheart to romance and love, provided you don't ignore them in favor of TV. But you're smarter than that! Right?
Jan Denise is a columnist, author of the book "Naked Relationships," speaker and coach based in McIntosh, Fla. Please e-mail her at [email protected], or visit her website at www.nakedrelationships.com. To find out more about Jan Denise, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.