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The Minimalists
The Minimalists are Emmy-nominated Netflix stars and New York Times–bestselling authors Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus. Alongside their podcast cohost, T.K. Coleman, this simple-living trio helps millions of people eliminate clutter and live meaningfully with less. Learn More.

Can I Get Him to Stop Watching TV?

A reader, Michelle, wrote to us seeking our advice:

I’m working on creating a minimalist lifestyle for my family, but I’ve hit a roadblock and I hope you can help—specifically 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, because it’s often used as a babysitter for our kids when I am not home, because it costs us money (granted, the cable doesn’t cost that much), and because, 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:

Start with yourself. Before you can convince anyone to change, you must first change yourself.

Reduce. How many TVs do you have? If it’s more than one, reduce them by half initially. Get down to one TV over time.

Bedroom. Whatever you do, get the TV out of the bedroom. There are better means of entertainment in the bedroom.

Schedule. Schedule your viewing. Don’t watch TV unless you scheduled your viewing at least 24 hours in advance. Ask your husband to attempt this with you for ten days (an experiment of sorts).

Limit. Limit yourself to X hours per week. Track your viewing. Do this together for ten days.

Friends. Invite friends over to watch TV with you during your scheduled viewing, then discuss what you watched afterward: this will strengthen your relationships.

Replace. Replace TV with other activities. Just jettisoning TV is boring: what else can you do together instead of watching television?

Once you do these things, your husband will likely follow. There’s nothing wrong with owning a TV: it’s when we spend too much time watching television that it has a negative effect on our lives.

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