From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.
I’ve heard that “Netflix and chill” means something other than the obvious to younger people. But at my house, chilling is exactly what happens when we settle down in front of the TV together every Sunday night. My husband burrows into the corner of the couch, while I sprawl on the chair next to him, and after we distribute pillows and blankets and snacks, one of us grabs the remote to dive into a show.
My husband works evenings, so the weekends are our only times to spend time relaxing together. Because our time is limited we’ve had to be intentional about our viewing habits, arguing and compromising our way into a set of rules that keep us, well, chill.
I don’t think you have to work opposite schedules or live in any unusual situation for this to be an issue, though. We’re all busy! Plus, I’m pretty sure most couples who enjoy watching TV shows and movies together must navigate the world of online streaming, premium cable, and unlimited DVR space with caution. That’s why I’m here to share a few rules for watching TV with your husband. Learn from my mistakes so the only drama is on the screen.
Rules for Watching TV with Your Husband
1. Set some ground rules and agree on the basics. Who will run the remote? Will you have one Netflix account or two? What shows will you watch together? When will you watch it?
We live in a time many entertainment writers call, “Peak TV,” which in practice means there are simply too many TV shows to watch. So when it comes to shows that my husband and I watch together, we’re pretty selective. Otherwise we’d spend all our time together glued to the TV, trying to keep up, and that’s no good. We share one account in each streaming platform we subscribe to, and we have a set number of shows that we watch together. Everything else is up for grabs for each of us during our own down time.
2. Be aware of the vulnerability in sharing entertainment accounts. Guys? I watch a lot – A LOT – of cheesy romantic comedies when I’m home alone. And I spent an outrageous amount of time re-watching Gilmore Girls last year. Normally I could hide that information from anyone who might poke fun at my choices (ahem, husband!), but when you share a Netflix account, it’s right there in black and white and, in the case of my living room, on the big screen. So just keep that in mind as you scroll through the categories and add things to your queue. (And remember, if you make fun of his love of Last Man Standing, he might turn around and ridicule your binge-watching of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Hypothetically speaking, of course.)
3. Take turns and find a balance. Even if one spouse literally holds the remote every time you sit down to watch a show, you should probably take turns choosing what to watch. Similarly, we’ve found it works best if we balance heavier shows with lighter ones, too, so you better believe we followed the recent, creepy episodes of Sherlock with a double-header of Superstore, which always makes us laugh out loud!
4. Share what you love, and find something new to love! When I met my husband he had stacks of VHS tapes full of episodes of Married…with Children. While I’m hoping he never makes me sit through that particular show, it IS fun to share our favorites with each other! I recently introduced Mark to Better Off Ted (which he loved as much as I did), and I’m hoping to convince him to watch Arrested Development next.
We’ve also found new shows to love together – like BBC’s The Musketeers and a new Jim Gaffigan special. Sharing the things that make us laugh or think or cry (or all of the above) really does strengthen our relationship. After all, nothing says love like inside jokes and the ability to quote your favorite shows with each other, right?!
5. Be open to new things, but respect each other’s boundaries and preferences. As soon as I watched the first episode of Sherlock, I knew that my husband would enjoy it, too. We hadn’t watched any BBC shows together before that, but he was willing to give it a try. And unlike Downton Abbey or Miranda (which I adored but didn’t think for a second he would), it became one of his favorites.
However, just like I don’t do graphic violence, Mark doesn’t do musicals. So when I found myself laughing hysterically at Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, I knew better than to ask him to join me.
6. Follow the Golden Rules. Never, ever watch ahead. And never delete each other’s stuff – whether that’s on the DVR or in your streaming queue. If you must make room for something new, always ask first and make those Sophie’s Choice-like decisions together!
If you like watching TV and movies with your husband, the myriad options we have these days feels amazing. It’s like having free(ish) date nights delivered to your house every single day! But as we’ve all found in every area of life, technology can complicate matters. So follow these guidelines and keep screen time with your spouse totally…chill!
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