3 Ways to Stop Screen Time from Ruining Your Mood–and Your Marriage!
A few years ago I found myself, on pretty much a weekly basis, pondering, “How can life be so cruel?”
I’d fixate on how deplorable our culture was. I’d bemoan how awful so many men were to so many women. I’d stumble to the bathroom and brush my teeth, and drag myself to the bed and crawl under the covers, hoping to disappear.
My husband would find me like that and try to talk me out of it. He’d want me to open up and explain what was going on in my head. He’d offer to help me make a list of good things that I could focus on instead.
And I would lie there and fume. “Why can’t he just let me have my mood? Why can’t he just leave me alone instead of trying to fix me? He’s always doing that. Every week, he tries to make me see the bright side when I just need to FEEL. Every week. In fact, every Thursday he does this.”
“What’s wrong with him that on Thursdays he always has to interfere?”
Then I thought,”Wait a minute. What’s wrong with me that every Thursday I’m depressed?”
And then I realized that every Thursday, we watched Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Every Thursday, I’d get depressed. And every Thursday, I’d take it out on my husband.
Maybe the problem was not Keith. Maybe the problem was my television preferences!
So we turned off the TV and we switched off Netflix and a couple of times a week we’d find other things to fill our time and build our relationship — things that didn’t make me grumpy and hate men.
It’s not just our homes that can get cluttered. It can be our minds, too.
What we fill our minds with affects our outlook on life. And watching TV or watching a movie doesn’t necessarily build your relationship with your husband that much. Sure, it can be fun occasionally, but many of us turn to screens by default in the evenings, when there are much better options that raise our mood, make us laugh together, and build memories.
Keith and I have focused on three different things that help us. See if you can find one that can work for your marriage, too!
1. Play a board game as a couple.
Board games aren’t just for groups! Board games can be awesome as a couple, too. And we’ve discovered some great new ones, even in the last few years. It’s not all Monopoly and Scrabble and Boggle. Here are a few others that we love:
Hive: It’s like chess, but with bugs. And octagons. Or are they hexagons? Your five pieces can move in different ways, and whoever surrounds the queen bee first wins! The great part about it? It only takes about 10 minutes to play a game all the way through.
Carcassone: Here’s one of my favorites that works great with really young kids and bigger groups, as well. You get to build a medieval French countryside together, putting down tiles that create the board. Monasteries, villages, roads, rivers, and more. You rack up points by finishing a road, city, or building, or by cultivating crops. But the best part is that the board looks different every time!
Pandemic: Another game that works well in groups, but also works well just for couples! It’s a cooperative game, so you can play it with a super competitive husband and no one will get grumpy. (Although you may get killed by a wicked virus. Sometimes stuff happens.) Four viruses are spreading in the world, and you need to use the skills of scientists, researchers, medics, and more to stop the spread. It’s great strategy, and you’ll learn geography, too!
Find 17 other suggestions for board games to play as a couple!
2. Find a new hobby to do together.
A few years ago, my husband and I watched the movie The Big Year, all about competitive bird watching (yes, there is such a thing). It was such a great movie, and right after that, we went out and bought two sets of awesome binoculars, a bird book, and started ourselves. We live near one of the best bird migration sites in North America, and it didn’t take long to start getting quite the list!
Keith’s way more into birdwatching that I am, but I still love it. We get outside. We get fresh air. We get to talk. And hey–the birds are pretty!
We also love ballroom dancing, and periodically take classes to learn more steps. We’re to the point that we can actually impress people now at weddings.
If you’re looking for a new hobby that you can enjoy, I’ve got a list of 79 hobbies that couples can do right here.
3. Get outside.
If you were to say to your beloved, “Honey, can we talk tonight?“, chances are he’d panic. But if you were to say, “Honey, how about a walk after dinner?“, he wouldn’t get his back up, and he may even agree.
When women talk to each other, we tend to like to do it face to face, gazing into our friends’ eyes. But when men talk, they tend to do it side-by-side, when they’re doing something together.
One of the best things we can do for our marriage, then, is to do something that puts you side by side with your husband. And for that, nothing beats getting outside, whether it’s just taking that walk, or taking a bike ride, or even just gardening!
When we get outside, the screen isn’t trying to pull us in so much with its promise of Netflix and movies. We’re able to be fully present and fully available. And that’s going to make you feel far closer to your husband, too!
I had to declutter my mind to see clearly that my husband is a good guy, and he can be a lot of fun. And when we added some fun things that had nothing to do with screens, we increased the laughter. (And I stopped dwelling on horrible sex crimes, too.)
Maybe, as the new school year starts up, it’s time to develop a new routine of your own. After all, no one wants to be grumpy every Thursday!