Married couple struggles with the TV tug of war
Dear Annie: My husband and I have very different television interests. I tend to prefer prestige shows that require significant time and attention commitment. He tends to enjoy brainless sitcoms. He says he doesn’t have the attention span to sit and watch many of the large-scale prestige shows. I feel that I’m wasting my time watching sitcoms with nonstop corny puns.
I really wish my husband would share my interest in television. It would make it far more enjoyable if we could discuss the shows afterward. Instead, he tends to tune out and play a game on his phone. What can I do to incentivize my husband to watch my shows? — Prestige Viewing
Dear Prestige. Having shared hobbies is certainly important to the nurturing of a healthy marriage. Spouses are not going to share all hobbies though. To the extent you have different television viewing habits, find a compromise that makes everyone happy. It is fair to ask your husband to watch one or two shows with you. It is also fair for you to give equal viewing time to his shows. You each need to agree to not be cynical and instead to make the experience enjoyable and a time to connect with your spouse. Remember, perfect compromise leaves each party feeling that they’ve both won and lost.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Mitch” today, and that could have been my husband. After 10 years of marriage and two boys, I was no longer interested in sex. I was a stressed mother who worked early hours. I needed to be in bed by 8 p.m. so I could get up at 3:45 a.m. or 4 a.m. to be at work by 5 a.m.
My husband wanted to stay up late and watch television. When he came to bed, he wanted sex. I was not interested in waking up at 11 p.m. or midnight. I asked him to come to bed with me, and then he could get back up to watch whatever. He refused. I also suffered from hormonal migraines that lasted 3-5 days a month. I asked my husband to sit next to me on the couch and hold me, caress me, “turn me on” like the old days. He wanted to sit in his recliner.
We went a year like that — having sex maybe five times. He said that I “needed to be fixed — to get help.” So I saw a counselor on my own, as he didn’t need to be fixed, apparently. The counselor asked me why I was still married. To this day, I don’t have an answer for that. Nothing was resolved, and we continued with the status quo. After another 10 years, my husband got prostate cancer, and we have had no sex since. We have been married for more than 39 years.
Yes, we live together as roommates and share a bed. Most days one of us says, “I love you.” We share a life like good friends. We have laughs and common friends, and we go on vacations. People think we have the perfect marriage.
Hopefully, Mitch will have a different outcome, as mine hasn’t been a great marriage. I think I would choose to go a different route if I had to do it over. We are both to blame. — No Sex
Dear No Sex: Thank you for sharing your letter. My guess is that you are not alone in your living situation.
You are still married and it sounds like, despite the sex issue, there is mutual respect between the two of you. It’s never too late to try and improve your life and marriage. Perhaps now is the time to go to a marriage counselor and work on fine-tuning your marriage, “fixing,” to use your husband’s term, what is not working.
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