How Television Images Effect Expectations in Relationships

Television images can have massive implications on relationship expectations, whether we are conscious of this or not. All the constant imagery we are exposed to on a daily basis builds to develop supposedly expected norms in a relationship. However in truth, the television presents us with a producer’s version of ideals, not normality.

Of course then we are hit with a negative impact, for our relationship is not anything like that which is portrayed on the commercials or in late night romantic-comedy sitcoms.

For a start, television is brimming with beautiful people with their salon perfect hair, sculptured polished nails, glamorous make- up and immaculate dress- sense. And on top of all that, they’re a mum too. How many mothers do you know who can take that long on themselves every morning? Men may see these polished women paraded on television sets and begin to wonder why his wife finds it seemingly impossible to manage a stroke of lipstick or a blow-dry and style before his return from work. If only the male populace knew how many make-up items it takes to perfect even the natural look.

Similarly pregnant women look just as good on TV. It always amazes me when watching the Entertainment channels how stunning pregnant Jennifer Lopez and Christina Aguilera look. They are just as beautiful as before their pregnancies with the addition of an adorable bump. And they still maintain to strut their stuff on stage magnificently with all the grace of an aged snow-white swan despite carrying a cumbersome weight. I, on the other hand at four months pregnant, consider it a good day if I get out of my pajamas. I have always been labeled a glamour-girl with huge emphasis on how I present myself to the world but exhaustion, nausea and mood-swings changed all that I’m afraid. Fortunately my husband does not care but many men would. Television very often radiates an entirely idealistic image of pregnant women, glowing as never before and still championing in their work right until the very moment before birth. The women who have it all, or indeed, try to juggle it all- family, high-powered job, social life- take the new Lipstick Jungle drama for example, dubbed as the new Sex and the City. This super-woman brand is unrealistic for most of us mere mortal females.

The sex too! Shows like these are always made bearable for the husband to watch alongside their wives because of the frequency and passion of the love-making scenes. Can a man really expect such an incredible intimacy and so often from his partner? Television believes so. For a woman with two young exhausting children, a part-time job and never-ending household chores to attend to he’ll be lucky if she manages to stay awake for the endeavor.

Ah yes, the household and those inescapable duties. With messy children and an inconsiderate dog the kitchen floor is dirty as soon as you put the mop and bucket away from cleaning it. Yet on television advertisements for cleaning products and air fresheners, every house is impeccable, absolutely spotless and gleaming from floor to ceiling. And, naturally, the mother in the commercial is said aforementioned glamour-puss.

This Stepford wife image seeps into the male conscious and they may become unreasonable in their expectations of you- even if they do not voice them they may harbor feelings of disappointment. When they arrive home they are met with dog mess on the carpet, a screaming child and a mother haplessly trying to multi-task but succeeding in no task at all. She looks like she forgot to put a brush through her hair that morning too.

However, let us not get too carried away in the traditional roles of women; television paints unrealistic expectations of men too.

As seemingly every advertisement on television of late likes to remind us, it’s Valentines Day soon. We are bombarded with jewelry commercials, shimmering with sumptuous diamonds that most men could only dream of buying their partners; least of all for a minor occasion like Valentines. I am English but have just moved to the States with my American husband and I find myself expecting a little more this February 14th. On reflection this is because television over here has overwhelmed me with gold rings, necklaces and all manner of expensive gifts- even surprise Sandals holidays to exotic destinations. I would have genuinely been happy with a card in the past but now, due to this TV onslaught of Valentines advertising, I would be ever so slightly dissatisfied with this simple gesture however heartfelt.

We can clearly see then that television places profound pressure on both men and women in actuality. TV dictates certain expectations from both sexes involved in a relationship and if it falls below par this can leave feelings of resentment or disillusionment.

Always take what you see on television as fabrication designed to make you want, or strive for possessions and lifestyles that are not important to happiness. Do not let anyone- least of all a box made for transmitting images and sound into your home- influence your own expectations for your unique relationship.