It's come up a lot recently that Brad and I do not have television. It's obvious that we are in minority and people are curious about it. So, I thought I would write a blog post about why we don't have television.
A lot of people think it's because of the money. Initially that was true. When Brad and I first got married we sat down right away to work out our monthly budget. Cable television just did not fit in the budget. Neither did Internet. We decided that that was a sacrifice we were willing to make--afterall we were newlyweds we could find better things to spend our time doing (play games, go for walks, stare into each other's eyes, etc.). As a teacher, it was a bit difficult being without Internet because I used it a lot for ideas for lesson plans and activities, but I figured I would just have to be very productive with my plan time and stay after school to get things done. When my parents found out that we didn't have Internet they offered to pay for it for us because they felt like it was a necessity with my job and Brad still being a student. So, we found Internet for less than $20 a month, but cable was still insanely expensive and just not worth it to us.
Brad and I quickly settled into our new life as a married couple and we enjoyed not having TV. I have to clarify here, though, we have always had a physical TV set. We have always had the ability to watch DVDs. We also received a subscription to NetFlix from some friends as part of our wedding gift so we did have access to movies and TV shows. I can remember those first few months after we got married, sitting on the couch Tuesday afternoons watching The Bachelor online the day after it aired. It was the one show I just couldn't give up (it was Jason's season). We kind of liked not having TV. It forced us to do other things with our time: homework, lesson plans, read a book, play games together, go for walks, etc. Even when we could fit it into our budget we decided that we liked life better without TV.
When we moved into our house in September 2009 we didn't even question whether we should get cable for the house or not. By this time, the digital converter boxes had been out and we never got one so we couldn't even get the basic channels if we tried. We love not having TV. So much time is wasted by watching TV. It's so easy to sit down for 15 minutes and get sucked into show after show after show, and nothing gets done. Also, we're not tied to certain shows every night so we're free to go out or do things. I can remember being at my parents house, talking to someone and being told to "Shhh" once a commercial was over and the show was back on (even now that TV can be paused this often happens). We could only talk during commercials. I'm guilty of this too, but I hate the message that it sends: this show is more important than you right now. We don't want to even be tempted to send that kind of message.
Not to mention, TV is so full of garbage. You'll be hard-pressed to find a show that doesn't involve sex outside of marriage, scantily-dressed women, filthy language, or inappropriate sarcasm. Even the so called "family" shows are shocking! I truly believe that everything we do sends a message to our kids. I might be able to say to Micah "We don't use the language that they use on Grounded for Life," but my actions are telling him that it's excusable. I can excuse it on the TV because they don't know better or there's nothing I can do to change their language. So, I think it's better to just not have it on. It's not that I want to shelter Micah and any other future children that we might have, but I want to send the right message. I want to fill his time with more uplifting things. I want to be encouraging good things rather than doing damage control. It's hard, trust me, I know. Brad and I fell in love with the show "How I Met Your Mother" when I was pregnant (someone lent us their season on DVD). That show is hilarious! But it is also crude. It glorifies one night stands and makes them funny, among other things. It is probably not a show that we should be watching, but it's funny! And I'm an adult so I know better. At least that's what I tell myself, but the truth is the more I watch that show the more I become desensitized to such issues. Whether I like it or not, even as an adult what I watch influences me. Is that really what I want to be filling my life with?
I will admit, TV has a relaxing quality to it, as well. There's nothing like sitting down on the couch at the end of the night and turning on a sitcom that you don't have to think about. It's great to just turn your brain off and be entertained. Brad and I have found other ways to entertain ourselves, though. We love to play board games and through the years, have found several games that we can play just the two of us. We also enjoy playing the Wii together. Brad and I both love to read as well. It's nice to have time in the evening to sit down and just read my book. We have time to go for walks at night or a little drive. But most importantly, we just talk to each other. Ask how each other's day was. It's a great time together, just catching up and re-connecting. I hope that as Micah gets older we continue to not watch a lot of television because I want to share these experiences with him, too. I would much rather spend my evening playing with my son or going on a family walk than sitting in front of the television worrying about what show he is watching.
Of course, this is a personal decision for Brad and me. It works for us. We have enjoyed our time without TV and look forward to raising our children without TV. But we know it's not for everyone, and that's okay. Who knows? We may change our mind when Micah is older, but I hope and pray that TV never becomes a constant thing in our lives, something that starts taking priority over relationships. I hope that our children will always choose to spend time with their siblings or reading or going outside over watching TV. But how can they do that if we never set the example for them?