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.