I originally posted this article on my Medium page. I want to repost on Honing Wellness, because this topic has become even more relevant for my husband and I. Currently, we are in the midst of a full kitchen renovation. As a result, we are finding ourselves uninspired by the persistent dust on the counters, the fact that all of our pots, pans, spices, etc. are cleared from the cabinets and spread across different rooms in the house, and that there are huge holes in our kitchen walls. Instead, we are ordering take-out and sitting in front of the TV more often than we have ever in our relationship and it's killing us. Not only are we suffering nutritiously, but we have both noticed that we are chatting with each other less about our days. My hope in reposting this is that you'll put in an effort to turn off the TV and engage in more meaningful activities with your family. Whether it be cooking a meal together, going for a walk, or sitting around the family room playing a game, these experiences can be far more rich than watching Netflix.
I gave up TV about six years ago. I didn’t just “cut the cord”; I gave up an actual TV. This mostly was a result of moving across the country to San Francisco and not having enough money after rent to afford a television or cable. I wasn’t completely devoid of entertainment. I’d watch movies on my laptop and listen to local NPR and podcasts. However, I soon found my life was enriched by not watching television. I read more, I got better rest and most importantly, when I had guests over, we actually talked!
That is one thing I quickly noticed and became irked by when I was a guest at someone’s home. It seemed that the standard comfort zone was to turn on the television as some sort of background ambient noise. I found myself in situations where I’d be sitting on a friend or family member’s couch, with everyone watching the TV and no conversation happening. I thought, “How can we possibly grow our relationship if we aren’t talking to each other?” I decided then that no matter how much money I had leftover after rent, I would not invest it in TV.
It seems our society has chosen distraction and isolation as a way to relieve their stress rather than reaching out to the people closest to them. I’ve heard co-workers say, “If my partner has had a tough day at work, he won’t talk to me for about an hour when he gets home. He needs his alone time with the TV”. This not only is a poor way of dealing with stress, but it’s also putting a strain on the relationship.
When I met my husband about three years ago, I was very pleased to know that he too did not have cable. He had a television, but we rarely turned it on. We both have the same belief in quality conversation as a way to grow relationships of all kinds. I’m quite sure it’s why we have such a strong marriage today. One of our favorite things to do together is to cook a complicated recipe. Instead of cable and tv, we’ve instead invested our money in food processors, cast-iron skillets, slow cookers, fancy stemware, and cookbooks. We’ve mastered a few recipes and botched many more, but we have a lot of fun while we are doing it. We open a bottle of wine, talk about our days and then sit down and enjoy a delicious, homemade meal afterwards.
If you aren’t convinced that turning the TV off and turning the oven on will improve your relationship, try out this simple recipe and see how it goes! This recipe is a great starter to chopping. It’s a hearty salad that is good enough for dinner. Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit.
Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad with Prosciutto and Pecorino (serves 3-4)
- 2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
- 1 Tbs dijon mustard
- 1 tsp shallot, finely minced
- 2 small garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1/8 tsp kosher salt
- Pinch black pepper (and then some, because it’s so good!)
- 1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
- 1 bunch thinly sliced kale
- 1 lb brussels sprouts, finely shredded using a mandolin or sharp knife
- 3-4 slices prosciutto, baked and chopped
- 1/4 c raw almond slivers
- 1/2 c Pecorino cheese, finely grated
Combine all dressing ingredients in a small bowl and mix. Add in olive oil, whisking until combined.
Mix sliced kale and shaved brussels sprouts in a large bowl. Throw in prosciutto, almonds, and cheese. Pour dressing over the top and toss salad until all ingredients are distributed throughout.