Monday, September 12, 2011

Marriage and the remote control

The fall television season is upon us. Meaningful football is back. The networks are hyping the new TV shows. It’s time to review husband-wife remote control etiquette.

Few electronic devices can be so maritally divisive. If I were a marriage counselor, the first question I’d ask any troubled couple would be, “Who clicks?”

There was a time when guys did all the remote controlling. A man’s home was his castle. The remote was his scepter. Whither he clicked she followed as submissively as Michele Bachmann.

No more. With women’s programming in the ascendancy, the modern husband must not only share his channel selection responsibilities, but also surrender the remote itself at times.

It can be fourth and one. The game can be tied. Your team can be getting ready to kick the winning field goal. If she asks what else is on and reaches for the remote, your job is to pass it to her.

To sit there silently while she surfs the lady channels; to join her in watching competitive cupcake baking; or wardrobe makeovers; or spoiled brides-to-be trying on wedding dresses with their spoiled friends.

Your job is to take the program you get and say nothing. Not so much as a word.

Her remote controlling may well be a dare—a challenge, a test. To speak is to fail. To roll your eyes or heave a sigh is to invite confrontation. Simply crossing your arms or legs can communicate petulance or impatience and turn an evening of connubial viewing into a frosty little pas de deux that could last until bed time—possibly even all the way to breakfast tomorrow.

Better to stretch and yawn and excuse yourself. Leave her watching her program on the high definition flat screen, the remote control at her elbow on the sofa arm.

Go down to the basement pick up the old remote and fire up the old analog TV where, hopefully your team will have won.

Sure the picture’s fuzzier down there. But look at the bright side. You’re making a statement.

You’re in charge of the remote control in the basement. That much at least is coming in loud and clear. I’ll bet she can hear it all the way up there in the living room.