USA TODAY columnist Steven Petrow offers advice about living in the Digital Age.
Q: I know this is not a life-and-death scenario, but I am furious at my husband for “cheating” on me. No, not in the Ashley Madison kind of way, but by jumping ahead in our binge viewing of our favorite Netflix series without me. Even worse, he didn’t tell me. I found out when I saw that the next episode had already been viewed. How do I punish him?
— Left behind
A: I assume that your desire to “punish” your husband over this all-too-common form of spousal infidelity is a cry for help, not justice. Let me try to provide that help, first by admitting how easy this form of cheating is. I know, firsthand.
Here’s my secret shame: My husband and I have committed to binge-watching certain shows together. After several episodes one night, Jim decided it was time for bed.
Fair enough, it was already past our usual curfew. I said I’d tidy up the den before joining him, and I was, when – don’t ask me how, it must have been a supernatural power – I pushed “play” on the next episode and sat there as a new episode started to roll. I loved it.
But when it ended I felt dirty, just like a cheater. Even worse, the next episode automatically started up. I did push “stop” at that moment. Cheating once in an evening is sufficient.
All the next day I worried: To tell or not to tell, although I knew full well that Netflix would betray me by pointing out that “someone” had jumped ahead in the queue. Aside from that aspect, I know it’s one thing to cheat, another to try to hide it. (Remember, it’s always the cover-up that takes you down.)
In short, you must confess to your video infidelity for two reasons: Because it is the right thing to do. And, because you will be caught anyway.
Next, agree to re-watch any episodes together, without even a murmur of complaint. Neither are you allowed to utter even a single word about what’s to come, including: “You won’t believe what happens next!”
You’ll be glad to know that Jim and I worked it out.
To be clear, if he’d chosen to fall behind in his viewing by retiring early one night or deciding to read a book instead, I would hope he’d have said: “Honey, feel free to jump ahead without me. I’ll catch up when I can.” And then I would have watched with impunity. No guilt. No fear of being caught cheating. (But still no word to him of all the Machiavellian plots twists to come.)
Agree or disagree with my advice? Let me know in the comments section.
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