Most families in America have read about the dangers of exposing our children to (too much) television -- the bad values, the passivity, the obesity.

There seem to be fewer articles discussing the damage television watching can do to a marriage -- the bad values, the passivity, the obesity...

When escape takes up more of our time and energy than reality, we're in trouble.

Television provides a distraction -- a distraction from work-related aggravation, a distraction from struggles with our children, a distraction from unfulfilled dreams, a distraction from our spouses. Instead of discussion over the dinner table, we turn on the TV. Instead of an after-dinner walk and catch-up, we turn on the TV. Instead of sharing quiet time and important thoughts, we turn on the TV. And instead of late night intimacy, we also turn on the TV. Clicking the remote is both a literal and figurative expression.

This isn't about the confusing messages or values (or lack thereof) of the medium. The noise, the fantasy, the distraction alone tears us apart.

Sure it's easier to turn on the television than to engage with a spouse. But television is cold comfort when your wife decides she's had enough. Even ESPN won't do it then. It's limited company when your husband throws in the towel. And nothing they do on "Days of Our Lives" can compensate.

Yes, there are educational shows. Yes, there are powerful moments. There may even be programs that couples can watch together and connect through the shared experience.

But those are the rarer moments. Television is meant to be an escape. But when escape takes up more of our time and energy than reality, we're in trouble. When watching other people's marriages takes precedence over living our own, something is lost. Let's turn the TV off before it's too late to get it back.