The 7 “Issues” All Couples Have While Watching TV Together (You Know Who You Are)

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He cheated on me. He always falls asleep. She requires subtitles on anything British. Somehow when the conversation drifts toward TV viewing habits with one’s spouse, the floodgates open and everyone has a bone to pick.

But reality check: At the end of the day you and your partner have the same goal—melting into the couch and queuing up one of life’s simple pleasures, available via a plethora of streaming services like Netflix, HBO, Hulu and Apple+ (hello, did you hear Ted Lasso is almost back?). That’s why we thought it would be most enlightening to identify the TV-watching issues most applicable to you and your partner so you can identify your challenges, then get back on track with your show consumption. (Come on, worse than arguing over the remote is falling behind.)

Issue 1: Infidelity

You went to bed early; your partner stayed up late. Not only did they LIE to you about the fact that they skipped ahead on White Lotus (the audacity!), they also watched it within earshot (you thought you heard the buzz of iPad connected headphones while you slept).

The Solve: Establish hard and fast rules about the shows you watch together and the ones you’re OK watching at different paces. You also need an agreement that, should one party binge ahead, there can be no trace of evidence (ever!)—and absolutely no gloating or spoilers.

Issue 2: Unlawful Savoring

Barring HBO, which still believes in delayed gratification, we live in a bingeable world. If you want to watch the entirety of Below Deck in one night, you damn well can and that’s your right. Unless, of course, your partner is the type that prefers to space things out and regularly says phrases like “variety is the spice of life” or “what if we just played Backgammon instead?”

The Solve: If you want to know what happens to Eva in Bad Sisters, set the expectation that it’s OK to move ahead without your spouse. But remember, compromise is king. Be thoughtful about the time you each have to devote to TV and pinpoint opportunities for a palette cleansers (say, a 30-minute episode of Abbott Elementary) that suit your partner’s viewing interests, but still leave time for you to binge.

Issue 3: Falling Asleep

You know who you are. You hit the couch with boundless energy and ambition—of course you can get through two episodes of George and Tammy tonight! 19 minutes later, you’re drooling and groggily asking your husband (who’s on pins and needles waiting to find out if the divorce goes through) if you can pause and try again tomorrow.

The Solve: In this case, you snooze you lose. If you can’t be honest about your fatigue levels and what you actually have the capacity to view that evening, it’s your own fault. Your partner should feel free to continue ahead, but should apply courtesy when it comes to discussing plot details. (Maybe you can play catchup over your morning coffee?)

Issue 4: Yelling At Each Other for Falling Asleep

“Are your eyes open? I see them fluttering!” “Tell me the last thing Claire Danes said or I’m turning this off!” Bottom line: You require both parties to be awake, alert and at prime viewing capacity…or else…

The Solve: Listen, as much as it pains us to see our partner drift off when we’ve been waiting all day to move forward with (and discuss) the next episode of Fleishman is in Trouble, see Issue 3 and do your best to have compassion. They’re tired. They’ve had a long day. Channel the most loving version of yourself and throw a blanket over their shoulders. Then, go forth.

Issue 5: Pausing the Programming

Maybe they want to add a comment. Maybe they just need a rewind the dialog because they couldn’t hear it and also have to pee. Heck, maybe they thought of something totally unrelated and need to immediately update you about an upcoming ophthalmology appointment. Bottom line: It interrupts the momentum and it’s annoying AF.

The Solve: Closed captioning is a lifesaver for keeping up, especially with trickier dialects. So is saving discussion for commercial breaks. Also, focus! Make a commitment to be in the moment for at least one episode—yes, that means you too need to put down your phone and save your Instagram log cabin spiral for bedtime, like a normal person.

Issue 6: Differing Time Commitments

Your partner wants a 57-minute dramatic takedown of corporate greed. You’ve got 28 minutes, tops, until you fall asleep. What’s a couple to do?

The Solve: A shared Google doc of TV options and their run times. Make sure it includes a robust mix of 30- and 60-minute shows that satisfy both your interests. This way, you can source in the moment and feel like you’re each getting what you want.

Issue 7: Chewing Loudly During Quiet Parts

The Duke and Duchess have finally found a moment alone in the topiary garden! They’re talking in hushed voices about their plan to cede the throne! They’re saying they’re about to…to…you’ve lost it, because this is exactly when your husband opens a bag of peanuts and starts going to town on them.

The Solve: Nothing. You should probably get divorced.

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Royal family expert, a cappella alum, mom

Rachel Bowie is Senior Director of Special Projects & Royals at PureWow, where she covers parenting, fashion, wellness and money in addition to overseeing initiatives within...