One of the Biggest Challenges to a Relationship


by Hal Stone, Ph.D. & Sidra L. Stone Ph.D.

Even the most devoted of partners will have interests other than their relationship and they will form attachments and linkages elsewhere. This is an important part of life. However, if your primary linkage in life shifts away from your partner and remains elsewhere, it is likely to prove fatal to your relationship.  There is a great deal of competition for our attention. All of us have a great many distractions in our lives and we do not have to go far to find something that will divert our attention from our partners. We will describe one of the major distractions that we have seen over the years.

            Most homes have a television set. Actually, many homes have more than one so that each family member has a set all to himself or herself.  This is a very compelling distraction. Television sets and television programs are designed to attract us and keep our attention. That is their goal. The entire industry is based upon linking us irrevocably to the TV set. They seduce us with the weekly shows, the news, the stock market, our favorite ball team, the Olympics, the latest scandal, our favorite soap opera, that special program we cannot miss. Others among us are seduced by the sheer power inherent in the remote control. We are in charge! We can do or watch whatever we like, whenever we like. We can change channels to our hearts content without anybody scolding us. We are not forced to finish anything.

            In addition to this seductive quality of television, there is its lack of confrontation and complication. It essentially complements your every mood and gives you whatever you want, whenever you want it. After all, has your TV ever made demands on you? Has it ever been disappointed in you? Has it ever criticized you? Has it made you feel vulnerable? Does it pressure you to finish anything? Does it frighten you or make you feel insecure? Do its feelings get hurt? Does it ever disagree with you? In short, there is no way that a TV set makes you as uncomfortable as your partner can!

            Is it any wonder that we frequently find partners spending a great deal more time linked energetically to the TV than to one another?

            Think about it! Are you more attached to your TV than to your partner? Which would you rather do without?

            If you would rather do without your partner, it seems safe to say that something is missing in your relationship. We find that one of the first things to disappear in a relationship is time together. Both partners get so busy that they forget each other. Life today is difficult and demanding. People are usually so overworked, overstressed, or exhausted that when they do have a moment, they drop into a comfortable chair and watch TV. It takes real effort to stay on your feet and do something different.

            The TV is very seductive and the relaxation and entertainment it provides can be essential and restorative, but linkage is linkage and our relationships need adequate energetic linkage in order to be healthy and thrive. You might even try for linkage while youíre watching TV together. How about making physical contact with one another as you watch? Perhaps you could curl up together in a big comfortable chair or on a couch.

            The most important challenge is to find time to really be together in energetic linkage, however you do it. Be creative. How about making plans for doing something together away from the TV? For instance, going to a movie is a different experience from watching the same movie on TV. Itís a date, itís going out together, and it means getting out of the house. There is always some way to be together even if you have a limited amount of time and money. Take a walk, go to a park, run errands together, go to the supermarket at an odd hour when itís empty and youíre not too rushed, take three minutes to watch the sunset. And whenever possible, take some time to sit together just to be quiet, or to talk over the dayís happenings.

From Partnering: A New Kind of Relationship, by Hal Stone, Ph.D. & Sidra L. Stone Ph.D.. Copyright © 2000 by Hal Stone, Ph.D. & Sidra L. Stone Ph.D.. Excerpted by arrangement with New World Library. $13.95. Available in local bookstores or call 800-972-6657, Ext. 52 or click here