Save the day with better communication

  • Sunday, April 13, 2014

Dear Liz,

I am so sad for the families who lost loved ones in the Malaysian flight mystery and the Washington state mudslides. But just how much news can a person take, really?

My husband is (I think) addicted to FOX, while my son-in-law can't miss CNN. My daughter and I just shake our heads because as we all get together for supper, they have a battle over the remote. My husband has to check the news every morning, the second he wakes up, and last thing at night before bed. He calls it a ritual. I call it “craaazy” (just not to his face). The problem is news bothers me. I can't fall asleep after I watch it. It changes my mood and I lose energy to watch it in the “a.m.” I like local news for the good news stories and weather.

“Who's Got The Problem?”

Dear “Who's ... Problem?,”

Fun and important question. The answer is both. As for the battles between the stations, there definitely is political tension between CNN and FOX, as well as the repetition of stories and videos (to suit the shifting audience). I think a lot of people can relate. My issue is the hundreds of hours of analysis and speculation that drone on. My own husband eats it up, while I have the same reaction you do. There is a clear difference between habit (a.k.a. “routine”), compulsion and addiction. An addiction would have extremes such as missing work, neglecting your relationship to watch, and refusing to go places without access. You describe a touch more than “routine” and closer to compulsion. But you'll create heartache for yourself to point that out! Bottom line is – you (and your daughter) need to have CALM conversations at good, chosen times with your respective spouses about how this affects you.

Use “I feel ____ when you ____, and I really would appreciate if you would ____.” If tension erupts, back off and make an “appointment” to talk later. Husbands out there please: we women so deeply appreciate and thrive when you can hear us out – and especially CARE about our feelings and opinions, however different than yours. Wives: men need to feel competent and able to protect you and SOLVE problems. Feelings are time wasters to many men, and emotions (behavior), especially as we get loud and angry, shut men down (and then we feel abandoned!).

It turns a simple issue into a painful, exhausting, even deal-breaking, stand-off. Decide what you REALLY want to improve the situation. Compromise is always the key. And you are right about the negative impact of over-watching bad, contentious news, especially over and over. It can upset a sensitive soul and can literally make us secondary victims of the events – even across the world. We need to be informed to some point, especially during an election or disaster. But we need balance in our lives to be healthy. Let me know how the discussion works out – in the old days, women used to dance in front of the TV in some nice negligee to divert their husband's attention. Just a thought.

Contact Liz via asksharpliz@gmail.com. Liz Brisacher Sharp is a Master degree-level Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice with 35 years experience in mental health.

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