My wife and I have been married just over 10 years now. That’s a lot of memories, a lot of evenings at home and a lot of fighting over the remote control. You see, we have slightly different television watching habits. I prefer live sports and dark critically-acclaimed dramas. My wife prefers HGTV and shows that make her laugh. To be fair, these disagreements are pretty minor. For every Sunday night debate between football and Iron Chef, there are moments of blissful consensus with Mad Men, Modern Family and – most of all – Top Chef.
Top Chef, Marriage: Please Pack Your Remotes and Go
November 18, 2011 by Cliff
Top Chef came along at a very critical moment in our marriage. If I had watched one more couple fret about their initial offer for a large suburban home, I might have started hitting random real estate agents on the street. Meanwhile, my wife suggested that I watch “The Sopranos” alone because she was no longer interested in mafia hits and assaults on women (picky, picky). Once Aaron Sorkin left “The West Wing” – you see, season 5 never actually happened – we were like one of those 1950s couples with separate beds…except instead of separate beds, we had separate remote controls. Then Amber flipped on Top Chef one night. It was like a cool refreshing breeze blew through our master bedroom. I was prepared to hate that show. After all, I don’t typically care for reality TV or programming hosted by former models. But there I was loving every moment: the cooking, the competition and – yes – that former model I mentioned earlier. We found one more thing to share, even if our dinners seemed slightly more boring afterwards.
However, I would argue that we could have survived without Top Chef. Had we been suffering through a cheaper cable package or had Tom Colicchio been hit by a bus, we still would have been okay. And I don’t just say that because Mad Men and Modern Family would come along a couple years later. I say that because we had discovered the importance of space both together and apart. Here’s what I mean:
Accept your differences: Personal preferences regarding TV shows or decorations or food may seem trivial, but they can actually be pretty charged. Why? Well, arguing for your personal tastes means arguing against your partner’s personal tastes. It feels like judgment. For a long long time Amber felt guilty whenever she felt like watching a light romantic comedy; she thought I was judging her. And she felt silly for not enjoying war movies because so many were critically acclaimed and popularly loved. But over time, she came to feel more comfortable in her own skin and her own preferences. And over time, I learned that my little sarcastic comments about her favorite TV shows were not helping. We eventually gave ourselves the space to be individuals and have our own likes/dislikes.
Treasure your similarities: It’s pretty critical to give each other space, but – for all our joking – that does not actually mean separate beds or TVs or lives. Several years into our marriage, we definitely learned to give each other space, but we also learned to treasure those moments when we had something in common. Watching the last four seasons of The Sopranos by myself made watching Top Chef together pretty special. Those date nights my wife mentioned yesterday? Well every Top Chef episode became a date night. Had we sat next to each other on the couch every night, those evenings together would have been just a little less special. We love our space, and we love our togetherness…for us, that goes hand in hand.
When you started reading this post, you were probably pretty stressed. I mean, how could a marriage in 21st century America possibly survive different TV programming preferences? Oh, the humanity! Well, I should probably confess that we still struggle sometimes. We may both like Top Chef, but sometimes we like different contestants! It can get pretty rough when someone’s favorite suddenly has to pack his/her knives and go. Somehow we survive. It’s almost like we’re used to agreeing to disagree. Now excuse me…I’m feeling kinda hungry.
- Cliff (aka The Husband)