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The Minimalists

Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus write about living a meaningful life with less stuff for 3 million readers. As featured on: ABC, CBS, NBC, BBC, TODAY Show, NPR, Forbes, The Atlantic, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and National Post. They live in Missoula, Montana.

Can I Get Him to Stop Watching the Damn TV?

Man watching television

A reader, Michelle, wrote us the other day seeking our advice:

I am working on creating a minimalist lifestyle for my family, but I have hit a roadblock and hope you can help, especially from the male perspective. In our house we watch TV, always have. I despise the TV because my husband spends so much time watching sports, it’s often used as a babysitter for our kids when I am not home, it costs us money (granted the cable doesn’t cost that much), and most of all it sucks up our time!

What, if any, suggestions do you have to get this time sucker out of my house without causing a war with my husband? He is embracing minimalism, at least in theory, because while we didn’t have tons of stuff, we got rid of lots of junk and he likes the feeling of more space, but I mention his beloved TV and it’s a whole different ballgame.

Our recommendations:

  1. Start with yourself. Before you can convince anyone to change, you must first change yourself.
  2. Reduce. How many TVs do you have? If it’s more than one, reduce them by half at first. Get down to one TV over time.
  3. Bedroom. Whatever you do, get the TV out of the bedroom. We’re pretty sure there are other ways to entertain each other in the bedroom without a TV.
  4. Schedule. Schedule your viewing. Don’t watch television unless you have scheduled your viewing at least 24 hours in advance. Ask your husband to attempt this with you for 10 days (an experiment of sorts).
  5. Limit. Limit yourself to X hours per week. Track your viewing. Do this together for 10 days.
  6. Friends. Invite friends over to watch TV with you (your scheduled viewing). Then talk about what you watched afterwards. This can strengthen your relationships.
  7. Replace. Replace TV with other activities. Just getting rid of TV is boring—what else can you do together instead of watch television?

Once you do these things, your husband will likely follow. There’s nothing wrong with owning a TV (Ryan has one, but no cable); it’s when we spend too much time watching television that it has a negative effect on our lives.