Practical advice needed


I hope that the Family Life Forum was a good choice for this posting.

My boyfriend and I have been dating for nearly two years, and we are seriously considering engagement.

Early in our relationship, we had a talk about media, and how we feel about what we watch on tv, etc. It became apparent at that point that we had varying view points on certain aspects of it. He admitted to me that he is somewhat desensitized, and doesn’t really get bothered by tv shows that have some elements of immorality in them. He is of the viewpoint that as long as the show isn’t completely promoting immorality (ie, has at least some aspect of good humor in it), that he usually enjoys watching it.

Me on the other hand, said that while I can watch shows like that and not necessarily let them influence what I know is true about my Catholic faith, I’d rather not. I find certain things offensive to who I am and what I believe in. I would rather not spend a lot of time exposing myself to something that I feel not only doesn’t glorify the Kingdom of God, but also manages to tear it down. I also think that if you watch enough stuff like that on tv, that eventually you will start adopting some of the viewpoints (I have seen this happen several times first hand).

I want to say right now that I am in no way trying to glorify myself or say I am perfect. I’m just stating how each of us seems to look at things.

So we pretty much disagreed, but managed to get around it and this is how: he basically told me the shows he watch on tv, and I found them to at least be tolerable to my comfort level. We discussed how we would handle children and what we would allow them to watch, and we seemed to be in agreement over that.

So I felt okay about things, until recently…

Recently I found out that my boyfriend is now watching a new sitcom that I have major problems with. I went online and watched a few episodes out of curiosity because he mentioned to me that he was watching it. I didn’t see any good aspects of it, and was actually quite repulsed by it. Now I want it to make it clear that I am in no way a prude. I will tolerate some prime time tv shows, but this show was just really far out there.

I know that this might come across as no big deal, being as how we aren’t married, don’t have children, etc.

But I feel it is a big deal and this is why: Both of us are very excited for the companionship aspect of marriage. We want to have a life together, not one that is apart. When we get married and he is sitting in the living room watching a show that I find obnoxious, am I supposed to go hide in a room until he is done? Or am I supposed to sit around and watch something that I will feel like I need to go to Confession for watching after it’s over because it makes me think about impure things or because I supported something that went against my faith? Or is he supposed to be willing to respect my tastes and not watch it?

I want to talk to him about this further, but I don’t know how to do so without appearing to him like I think I am holier than though. Or that I am watching him and just waiting for him to do something I don’t approve of so I can call him out. I don’t want to fight or argue about things. This is just something that is near and dear to my heart. I have always been careful about what I watch on tv and what movies I watch. I feel like that is my own personal choice to make. I don’t necessarily feel like I should have to give that up when I get married.

I guess what I am looking for is some practical advice on how to deal with this situation. Please, don’t try to hijack my thread with which one of us is right and which one is wrong. I think as individuals we are entitled to our own viewpoints and opinions. I am simply trying to figure out if there is a way we can compromise here, or what should happen at this point.

Hi, I’ve been married for 13 years. There are many tv shows we disagree on. I usually tape the ones that I really love and watch them while he’s at work late. When we are home together, we’ll sit in the living room together, he’ll put on something he likes and I will read. This way , we are spending time together, but I don’t have to be subjected to shows I don’t like. Then sometimes, we’ll do the opposite, he’ll go on the laptop while I watch a show he hates…It works out…Eventually, you’ll have kids and btwn work, kids ,housework ,laundry…you’ll both be so tired, you’ll both be asleep by 9 pm:D

Most critical at this point is: Mass at least on Sundays, and prayer together as often as possible. If you do not have time to pray together now, you will not make time for it later. God can help you through these things if you give him space in your life.

Personally I don’t think you can prevent another adult from watching certain things on tv without coming across as super controlling or treating them as if they are a child rather than your equal. I don’t feel like tv influences adults as it does a child/teen. Adults generally have their values set and won’t go copy ‘bad’ or ‘immoral’ behavior just because a tv character does something as a child might do.

It is a delicate matter because too strong of a stance by you could push him into watching certain shows behind your back rather than being open with you as he is now. I still think it is good to express your feelings and come to some sort of compromise. Communication is important, you don’t want to have this bother you in silence and I am sure he doesn’t want to upset you. A ‘tough’ conversation like this is what makes relationships stronger and will make tackling any other issues in the future that much easier.

Just like one of the responders said, maybe you can have him DVR the show(s) and watch them when you are not around so you are not subject to it. When you are together it would be ideal if you watch something you both like.

On the plus side you two already seem in agreement over how to handle tv when you have kids in the future.

Hi Jay! Thanks for the response…

I guess that part of what bothers me, is that while he doesn’t actuaylly pick up the bad and immoral ideas, he does pick up other stuff. There have been plenty of times where he will be surprised about the way I act because “women on tv” don’t act or think that way.

And then even after I tell him that I am different from the women on tv, he still doesn’t seem able to treat me like I’m my own individual person, and have different ideas about some things.

I feel like he has ideas about our relationship and me based on these fictitious, unrealistic relationships on comedy shows.

So that is part of what bothers me about this.

Thank you for the advice. We have been trying to say a chapter from the Imitation of Christ as well as the St. Michael prayer every night on the phone. We usually attend Mass together on Sunday (sometimes it doesn’t work out because we don’t live in the same town).

Please keep us in your prayers, that God will be at the center of our relationship.

Hi there!

Thanks for the ideas… does it ever make you feel disconnected from your husband if he watches a show you don’t like because of the morality aspect of it? I know that my boyfriend has different interests than mine, and will sometimes watch football or a science show or something that I’m just not interested in. That doesn’t bother me at all. I guess it’s when it comes down to more serious issues that I bothered. I want so badly for both of us to be on the same page there.

I guess I am just trying to figure out why a good Catholic would desire to watch tv shows where the primary focus is going to bars and trying to have one night stands… I find it bothersome.

I have a small card on my tv cabinet when you open it. It has a picture of Christ and the simple question: Would Jesus watch this program with you?

The bigger issue I see here is unrealistic expectations for both of you. You seem to think marriage means you’re going to be spending all your time together, every minute, watching each other’s tv programs and constant companions. That doesn’t last long in the real world. Jobs, chores, sleep schedule, child maintenance… you’ll be surprised how little time you have as a couple in the evenings and on weekends. Do you want to waste that little amount of time in front of the tv set?

And if he really gets his views of women from tv and doesn’t think you should react in your own way because that’s not how women on tv do it… well, that could be the tip of a very disturbing iceberg.

And then even after I tell him that I am different from the women on tv, he still doesn’t seem able to treat me like I’m my own individual person, and have different ideas about some things.

I feel like he has ideas about our relationship and me based on these fictitious, unrealistic relationships on comedy shows.

What you just wrote makes me cringe. You need to pursue this. Little things like this eat away at relationships like termites. How realistic are his marriage expectations. My xh thought I should vacuum and clean the house in heels and pearls because that’s how June Cleaver did it. Imagine living with someone whose image of the world is so false and who keeps trying to make you fit into tv land. No, I’m NOT going to wear pearls when I am scrubbing the toilet and bathroom floor!

You need to talk more about his views and less about what you think he should be watching on tv.

I see three things here:

  1. Morals - You stated that you’re not worried about his morals and don’t think his morals are being thrown out of whack from watching whatever shows he watches. This is a non-issue.

  2. Together time - As previous posters have stated, there are going to be plenty of times that you guys are not in the same room watching TV. You should watch the shows the other one is not interested in at these times. Again, a non-issue.

  3. His expectations and the way he treats you - Here’s the issue. Only you can decide if he treats you well. I don’t think that it is likely that on one hand he can understand that the morals depicted on these shows are unacceptable and on the other hand he can’t understand that the way they treat women is unacceptable, but that’s for you to decide.

Also, if he isn’t treating you well or has unreal expectations of you, don’t think that convincing him to give up these TV shows will fix that problem. He has thousands of influences around him that tell him to objectify women: his friends, coworkers, commercials, etc., if he’s going to let certain TV shows make him act like a pig (remember I’m not saying that he is) then he’s going to allow other things to make him act like a pig as well.

My wife and I watch difference shows but it’s definitely not usually for religious disagreements. We are pretty much easy if things are funny… as it sounds like your BF is but tend to just like action vs romance. We give though and watch each others shows from time to time just to be together.

We have 4 boys under 7 though so our TV watching is usually 30 minutes of MASH re-runs before bed. We did watch Battlestar Galactica together, and have enjoyed a historical show on Showtime called the Tudors but, and this is kind of funny, actually fast forwarded through certain parts due to the sexual content. The Religious and Historical content is great though… we just always DVR it rather than watch it live.

However, while we are definitely no prudish in any way - especially in regards to sexuality, there are just certain things we agree that aren’t a valuable way to spend the little time for TV we have. For instance, we have never watched Desperate Housewives, Cougar or any of those shows that really have no redeeming value for a Christian, Catholic or Protestant.

I’m curious as to which show your BF is watching… but you don’t have to tell.

From someone who has been married about 15 years and together with his spouse for 20… TV kind of goes away once you have kids. We use to watch Friends, Frazier, Will & Grace, Star Trek TNG etc… when we were dating and first married but as I noted 30 minutes if MASH is about our limit once the boys are asleep, lunches made, house picked up etc… I don’t see if being in issue unless it’s something that truly goes against marriage.


Hi Joe!

Thanks for the post…

I like how you discuss together which tv shows you want to watch, since you don’t have a lot of time to watch tv.

The show in question here is called Accidentally on Purpose. The whole premise of the show is that a woman had a one night stand with a younger guy. She got pregnant and they decided to keep the baby and raise it together, but have a platonic relationship.

Well, that’s all fine and dandy. But one of the past episodes I decided to watch was all about some guy who wanted to have a one night stand but is a nerd and can’t catch a girl. The pregnant girl was giving him advice on how to catch a girl and how to get her in bed with him. There were all sorts of jokes about sex, private parts, etc.

One of the other episodes I looked at was a little better, but still fairly distasteful.

I feel like this show does make a mockery of out of sex and marriage. Not exactly a good thing in my opinion. Red flag!

(Bold emphasis, mine)

While it may be all well and good that he has different tastes in TV shows than you do, this is a big cause of concern that I have found in reading this entire thread. When it gets to the point that he is comparing you to what he sees on TV, ooops, bad move. It is likened to the man that views pornography and expects his wife to “perform” the way that they do in that filth. (I am not saying that your BF is watching pornography, just outlining the similarities).

If these are shows that you find offensive then by all means that should be important to him. Where do his priorities lie, with you? Or with the TV show? If it is disrespectful to God and you, he should be willing to go without. It comes down to value. What do you value more? What does he value more?

And rightfully so, it should bother you as you are not the women on TV. You are the woman that this man has every intention of dying for and committing himself to for the rest of his life. He is to love you as Christ loved His bride, the Church. Getting a view of sex and marriage from TV will only set one up for failure. Sex is not anything like how the media portrays it. Not even close. And to get that distorted view can be harmful to your spouse and your marriage (future).

Him having shows that you do not like or care to watch, fine. Having shows that you do not like or care to watch that you KNOW are not “good” shows is a cause for concern.

You are welcome…

Just like Becks said, the issue is how he treats you or his expectations of you and the link to the tv shows he watches. Could you elaborate on that if you feel comfortable?

From personal experience I tend to feel the opposite is true, I feel like tv characters are so far fetched that generally ‘no one’ acts they way they do. Or if I am watching a show and some one says a ridiculous line or does something unusual I’ll think to myself - who says/does that kind of stuff???

Sometimes I feel like girls think I should act a certain way based on their experiences with other guys (or possibly tv/movies, but I guess I didn’t really consider that angle). I’ve been in group conversations with many girls where something might be said and then someone will make a suggestive remark/joke. Sometimes funny, sometimes not. I never do this and in one on one conversations I’ve had girls actually say to me - most guys woulda said something inappropriate in response to what I just said, but not you.

I think they think I’m too ‘well mannered’ or ‘polite’.

Anyway, I think a lot of people get ideas about how relationships should be from their parents and how they handled things. TV might play a part, but generally I think what you observe first hand and are a part of has the most impact.

You definitely need to convey that to him and cite specific examples so there won’t be any confusion and he will know what you mean and what kind of behavior to correct. Then he can also explain his point of view better.

Hi! Thank you for your kind words. I guess I wasn’t being completely fair when I said that there were plenty of times that he is surprised about how I act. In reality when I think about it I can think of about 2-3 times. It just feels like a lot to me I guess.

I’m sure if I expressed my discomfort with this tv show, he would agree not to watch it. But then I feel like I am being a controlling girlfriend who is forcing him to do things. Sometimes I do wish our values were in line enough that it wasn’t actually an issue at all. I wish he felt the same offense at watching things like this as I do.

And I don’t want him to resent me because I take away his fun or something. I’m not saying this would definitely happen, but is is something I worry about.

My advice would be to let it be. The show you described doesn’t sound all that bad in the grand scheme of things. It’s not like he was watching a pornographic show.

You have to accept that your boyfriend will not always agree with you in everything, and when minor disagreements like a TV show happen you have to learn to let it go, and accept his difference.

Right now you are asking how you can “compromise”, but for you compromise seems to mean “how can I get him to stop watching this show, and any other show I disapprove of without damaging the relationship”. This is not a compromise, this is you trying to make him behave the way you think is right even when he disagrees.

You say you don’t want to have to give up having control over what you watch, well I don’t think he’s asking you to do that. Maybe he doesn’t want to have to give up having control over what he watches.

Personally I don’t think a relationship can survive one partner being so intensely controlling that she wants the other to stop watching some comedy TV show. You have to draw a line somewhere, if you are too controlling and oppressive he will not want you.

In my original post, I mentioned a couple of different ideas I had been thinking about.

I was not trying to say that the only solution I would be happy with was that he stop watching the show. If that was my intention, I wouldn’t have even posted this. If I was that controlling or if I had my mind made up, I would have just gone to him and demanded he stop watching it.

I was honestly trying to figure out the best way to handle the situation. Whether that meant me smashing my feelings about it, talking to him about it, him to stop watching the show, etc.

I figured maybe some other married people could help give me perspective on the situation. I wasn’t sure what to do with my feelings or how to handle them, that’s all.

Well, one example of him expecting that I will act like women on tv is this: whenever we get in the slightest disagreement about something he feels like I will shun affection because women on tv do that to punish their significant other because they are mad at him.

I’ve explained to him that I am actually just the opposite of that. I think that affection can be an important tool in healing. I also know that when you are married, that refusing to have sex with your spouse for an indefinite amount of time because you are mad at them, is not very healthy.

But it seems like he can’t understand that I don’t necessarily hold the same viewpoints as women on sitcoms.

I agree with you that a lot of what people do on tv is pretty unrealistic and far out there.

Maybe you are right that the best approach here is simply to just express to some specific examples where I feel frustrated, and maybe he can work on them.

*True love, wants the best for the other. You want God’s best for your bf. Maybe say it LIKE THAT. God wants our best, too. He doesn’t sit back and give us everything we want…He often is thought of as a God who wants to ‘ruin our fun,’ but really…if that ‘fun’ messes up our walk with Him, He won’t stand for it…THAT is true love. That is God’s idea of love, not just being permissive with everything.

THAT SAID, I would only allow this to upset me, IF your bf is showing signs that his tv watching of these shows is affecting his relationship, negatively, to you. You mentioned that he is comparing you, albeit subtly, to the ‘tv women.’ Not worth waging a war over, but it’s worth telling him that you don’t appreciate it. Mainstream media is pretty much geared towards sex, and immorality. Whether it’s tame or not. It’s there. I used to watch Sex & The City, and I totally stopped, because it doesn’t coincide with who I am as a Christian. There is NOTHING REMOTELY redeeming about that show…did it change who I was towards my husband? No, but it didn’t help my walk with Christ.

So, let that be the yardstick you meaure this all with…if it is affecting your relationship adversely, I’d tell him your opinion. I also agree with Liberano too, though. You might be surprised at how the together time changes once you’re married, with children to support, jobs that have opposing schedules, etc. At times, I feel very much like a single mom. :o My husband works nights, I work days. I have off weekends, he has off two days during the week. TV is the last of our concerns. :stuck_out_tongue:

Stay true to your values…and help your bf to see that you’re not picking on him, you do it out of love. *

Maybe the perspective is that if your biggest issue with your boyfriend is that he watches a comedy that includes a storyline about a guy trying to have sex, count your blessings.

You are unlikely to find a person nowadays who will not watch modern TV shows, and nearly all modern TV shows have sexual themes. And even if you leave your boyfriend in search of a guy who doesn’t watch modern TV shows, chances are there will be other areas you and he will disagree on.

What are you so afraid of? That your boyfriend will turn into a sex fiend seeking one night stands because of this show? How likely is that? He has grown up with this kind of TV and is the man you know today.

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