Marriage in a Digital World

Ellen Gamerman examines some new issues married couples are having to cope with in an increasingly digitized world.

Marriage often requires coping with the loss of some individuality, whether it’s adopting a spouse’s last name or setting up a joint bank account. Now, some couples say it can be equally tricky to navigate intimacy in the digital sides of their lives. They are running into thorny questions regarding how much to share and how much to keep separate in areas ranging from email addresses to online calendars.

For some young newlyweds, this means a debate over whether to combine their blogs. Longtime spouses, meanwhile, say perennial arguments about who has more closet space are now joined by bickering over which TV shows get deleted to make room on the TiVo.

Some of the friction comes from a paradox in the digital world. Technology companies are pushing ever-more-personalized products and services, but as things get more tailored to an individual’s use, they also become less compatible with the give-and-take of married life. Maintaining separate sign-ons for the family computer, for instance, is a simple matter on both Macs and PCs, but making a folder of family photos on the hard drive available to both husband and wife is still complicated enough to baffle tech-savvy people.

Like Becks, the idea of joint email accounts strikes me as bizarre. We’ve both got multiple individual email accounts and there are three PCs and two laptops between us, although they’re inter-networked.

Some of the other issues mentioned in the piece — Netflix, Amazon, TiVo, photos, music, and so forth are rather easy to cope with.

While my wife and I share similar taste in music and movies, the overlap is far from perfect. But, yes, we’ve pooled and networked our digital music archives for ease of management. We just don’t listen to the same playlists.

We mostly watch movies and television together, so of course we use the same queues. She watches the occasional Netflix chick flick that I can’t stand while I’m watching a TiVo’d talk show or football game. How hard is that, really?

The Amazon account issue is a little bit trickier, though, since we use them for gift buying. Obviously, the surprise factor is lessened considerably if the other logs in and sees what has been purchased. We both have our pre-marriage personal accounts still but have linked them via the Amazon Prime program; occasionally, snafus do occur, however.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Boyd says:

    …making a folder of family photos on the hard drive available to both husband and wife is still complicated enough to baffle tech-savvy people.

    If someone finds it baffling (at least in Windows; I’m not familiar with the Mac OS), they’re not very “tech-savvy.”

  2. Triumph says:

    What an inane story–the editors of the Wall Street Journal must be doing some pre-emptive fluff “reporting” in order to keep their jobs once Murdoch takes over!

  3. Michael says:

    If someone finds it baffling (at least in Windows; I’m not familiar with the Mac OS), they’re not very “tech-savvy.”

    Indeed, on Windows at least, you have to be “tech-savvy” to make a folder that is not available to your spouse, since most home-users only ever use a single login account. Probably the same happens with Mac OS.

    Personally, my wife and I used to use separate user accounts on my Ubuntu Linux box, but now she’s just using mine, since she uses gmail, and we now share our Firefox bookmarks and Gaim buddylist. It took some re-organization to clean up the clutter you get from merging two different people’s information, but nothing overly technical, and certainly nothing rising to the level of a “marriage issue”.

  4. Triumph says:

    Indeed, on Windows at least, you have to be “tech-savvy” to make a folder that is not available to your spouse, since most home-users only ever use a single login account. Probably the same happens with Mac OS.

    What the article was referring to was SHARING a folder rather than restricting it. This is simple as pie no matter what OS you are using. This broad Gamerman probably still types her column on an old Remington typewriter.

  5. Michael says:

    What the article was referring to was SHARING a folder rather than restricting it.

    Yeah, I got that, my comment was to point out that not only was the statement false, but that the truth was actually the polar opposite.

  6. Stormy70 says:

    Want a happy marriage? Invest in two TVs.

    It is that simple.