Marriage means shared living space, shared money, shared dreams, shared chores and, well, sharing everything. And by “everything,” we mean your Netflix queue and Spotify playlists. Some couples even share Facebook or e-mail accounts. As problems can arise from sharing a bank account, they also can occur when the two of you split time streaming songs to your smartphone with Spotify or decide what shows to record on the family's digital video recorder.
Most of the services can be used on tons of devices, from phones to gaming consoles and even your TV and computer. Lots of homes are have lots of electronic toys, and deciding how to share them can cause the occasional dust up.
“It comes up on a nightly basis at my house,” said Brier Jirka, sex therapist with Methodist Physicians Clinic Women's Center Pelvic Pain and Sexual Medicine Center.
It's important to set ground rules, said Jirka, who also does couples counseling. That has to do with things such as chores as well as how couples share things such as Netflix, which allows you to stream TV shows and movies to your TV or computer.
“You're not trying to baby-sit your spouse,” she said. “You're not trying to dictate what they're trying to watch.”
It's also important to learn to concentrate on yourself, Jirka said, even if that means watching “Grey's Anatomy” if your spouse doesn't like it.
We talked to area couples about their experiences with their digital accounts and devices. They shared stories of laughs, fights and figuring out who can watch what and when.
Matt Baum almost kicked his wife, Kacie, off of their shared Spotify account. Kacie uses the music service, which allows you to stream almost any song to your phone or computer, when she runs and when she's at work.
While they don't disagree when it's time to watch movies on Netflix, the Baums have completely different tastes in music. He likes metal and rock. She likes pop and hip-hop.
Things came to a head when she listened to the pop band Owl City. Spotify posted to Matt's Facebook account that he had been listening to Owl City, Carly Rae Jepsen and other sugary pop groups. That didn't sit well, especially considering he's a drummer in some rock bands that definitely don't lean toward pop sounds.
“He was the one that begged me and begged me to use his account and use his own playlists,” she said. “When I did it, he got all bent out of shape because he didn't appreciate my terrible taste in music.”
His indie rock buddies and other friends mocked him mercilessly.
“I was running and I kept getting text messages,” Kacie Baum said. “I looked down and it was like, 'BABE!,' in all capital letters. 'We need to have a talk when you get home.'
“Then it said 'OWL CITY!? I draw the line!'”
He hasn't kicked her off. Yet. They still share the account, but Kacie uses a different account when she's at the office. That might ease the tension.
Kevin Hinrichs and his wife don't have a problem sharing Netflix.
They do, however, sometimes have issues about sharing it with their daughter, 2-year-old Claire.
“All Barney, all the time,” Hinrichs said. “It's madness.”
Jared Cvetas and his wife, Suzanne, have multiple devices to avoid conflicts when using their various accounts.
They have multiple Xbox 360s, which can each use Netflix. Splitting the service, which lets them watch TV shows and movies instantly from the Internet, is pretty easy, so they don't fight over whether to watch “Futurama” or “Aqua Teen Hunger Force.” They also have a Macbook and a few iPhones and iPod Touches in the house, so no sharing there.
“There's plenty of options, so no real conflicts,” he said.
Christine Mori shares a Netflix account with her husband, Mark. They often watch on TV and the computer while using the same account, and they haven't had any trouble.
Occasionally, Mark gets annoyed when the service, which recommends shows based on previously watched content, begins to suggest things that Christine has been streaming.
“I'm not afraid to admit that I went on a 'Dawson's Creek' bender for a couple months, and his queue really took a beating,” she said.
Wayne Brekke runs a business and shares office space with his wife, but they don't share social networking accounts. They've even hosted a podcast, “Love, Sex and Business,” about spouses working together.
“We do make it a point to have our own individual friend sets, as well as friends we hang out with as couples,” he said. “We often go out separately. And just as often together. When working and living together so much, it's good to have individual space in certain areas of the relationship.”
Dave Wise and his wife, Katie, use a DVR to record TV shows to watch later. They can store only so much shows before the recorder gets full, which causes occasional trouble in the Wise home.
“My biggest peeve is that she doesn't delete shows when she's done watching them on the DVR,” said Dave. That would free up space for his favorites.
Ben Reynolds and his wife, Nikki, also share a DVR. Mostly, things are fine, but he occasionally fills up the box with too many episodes of “Two and a Half Men” or she forgets to record a sporting event for long enough (sometimes, they go over their timeslot and the DVR will stop recording).
It has led to arguments.
“It also stinks that it actually forces me to sometimes watch 'Grey's Anatomy,'” Reynolds said.
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