Nearly seven and a half years ago, my husband and I were newlyweds. Living together for the first time, living off of beginning salaries, in a one-bedroom apartment. We had it ALL! Looking back, however, we certainly didn’t have it ALL figured out. We were 23, after all!

When I look back now, something that almost literally disgusts me is how much TV we were watching. We’d get home from work between 5 and 6, make a very easy dinner (or go out to eat), then plop ourselves down on our hand-me-down couch and (there’s no other way to put it) BINGE watch whatever our hearts desired. From Netflix, to Hulu, to OnDemand… our options were endless. (Thank goodness Disney+ wasn’t an option yet!) So, we are talking about watching 5-7 episodes of a sitcom in a row. If it was a Saturday… 10 episodes certainly wasn’t unheard of. I don’t really know how we found the time to do this. It’s not like we had no friends, or weren’t leaving our apartment. But it was our “thing” if we had nothing else to do. 

As our marriage progressed, and kids came on to the scene… our TV habits probably should have died down, but they might have ramped up more. I was a new stay-at-home mom with a baby who would only take naps on me. So I found myself watching TV practically all day… into the night with my husband. What else do you do with a newborn who literally was the worst sleeper? I was watching TV while nursing him in the middle of the night at one point! 

I reached a point where the fog lifted, and I realized how gross it was. It wasn’t just the fact that I was sitting around all day staring at a screen – it was that we weren’t watching “good” TV. We weren’t watching anything grossly immoral, but reality TV was a huge percentage of what we were consuming… and movie ratings weren’t even acknowledged. Together, my husband and I decided to start putting “moral limits” on what we were consuming. So rated R movies were officially not an option. Most reality TV shows were immediately out. As we navigated and leaned into those limits, certain sitcoms we were streaming started to feel, let’s say, out of place. Sexual jokes and innuendos from the shows we were watching suddenly felt awkward. Certain characters no longer were funny. Basically, because we had applied limits… it became easier to see how many more limits we needed. 

I should point out – this is probably 4 or 5 years into our marriage. It took us a LONG time to get there. My TV consumption during the day had drastically dropped the moment our oldest turned one. We also started implementing a “no-screens-night” where we put away our phones and didn’t watch TV.

Our night consumption of TV took longer to transform into what it is today. It wasn’t necessarily an intentional “we are done watching TV” type of thing. It was more along the lines of just starting to feel “gross” about how MUCH we were watching. Our moral limits were set, and we had a very good handle on being mindful of WHAT we consumed. But, TV options are endless and we still found ways to watch TV three hours in a row 4 or 5 nights a week. 

This past year, our lives have transformed for many reasons. I won’t get into all of the changes, but the biggest one is that we pray more together now than we ever have before. As we all know, prayer produces many fruits. One of those “indirect” fruits has been that we watch TV maybe twice a week for a maximum of two hours at a time. We no longer have Netflix and cable is probably on its way out. We’ve eliminated options. However, it’s also a combination of simply not finding much on TV entertaining these days (minus Abbott Elementary – Janine makes me laugh SO much), mixed with we find ourselves wanting to “entertain” ourselves in other ways. We play cards, read, and how about this… TALK to each other. We have had SO many deep talks in the past year. While I am someone who doesn’t like to be “pushed”, there is no denying how fruitful these talks have been for us. From topics ranging from faith, to schooling for our kids, to our dreams for the future… we’ve only grown closer. Again, lots of outside factors and recent changes have also contributed… but simply making ourselves available to each other instead of sitting near each other watching something “together” has played a HUGE factor in us growing closer. 

In today’s culture, we can quite literally entertain ourselves to death. Between social media, TV, athletic events, video games, podcasts… you can fill every ounce of your time with being entertained. With lent approaching, I’d like to challenge you to look at how much “entertainment” you have in your life on a daily basis. For my husband and I, TV was our go-to for many years. Maybe for you it’s social media or video games. Whatever you find yourself filling your spare time with, take this time before Lent to evaluate if you need to adjust that. If you find yourself thinking you need to adjust, well, maybe you just figured out what you’re giving up for Lent!