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TV's Impact on Marital Happiness

Do you want an easy way to keep romance alive in your marriage? Turn off the television. That's the advice from researcher Dr. Jeremy Osborn from Albion College in Michigan. Osborn tracked 390 married couples in his study "When TV and Marriage Meet."

In the study, couples answered questions about their satisfaction with their spouse, relationship expectations, level of commitment to the marriage, TV viewing frequency, and how much they believed that TV relationships were actually realistic. Overall, the study found a simple pattern: when belief in TV romances goes up, satisfaction with your actual romantic relationship goes down. In other words, the "on-again, off-again relationships on TV shows—built up by sweeps weeks and season finales—impact what you think a wife or [husband] should be."

Dr. Osborn summarized:

I found that people who believe the unrealistic portrayals on TV are actually less committed to their spouses and think their alternatives to their spouse are relatively attractive …. My hope would be that people would … ask, How realistic are my expectations for my spouse partner and where did those expectations come from?

Possible Preaching Angles: Marriage; Divorce; Renewal of the Mind; Media—Obviously, this illustration applies to marriage, but it also applies to the way cultural influences shape our lives in ways that we don't even realize.

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