Happy Cheating

The number one thing couples lie about is not what you'd think

Photograph by Getty Images/Flickr Open

I cheated on my wife.

I hadn’t meant to. I was alone and she was at some dinner, or out of town on some work thing, or visiting an old friend (literally!) and I couldn’t help myself. A whole week went past before I told her, rather casually I thought, what I’d done.

I watched the last episode of “Boardwalk Empire” without her.

We were at a family dinner in Maryland this weekend when my sister-in-law told me that the number one thing couples lie about is watching recorded programs. How many of you have watched “Scandal” or “Homeland” either when it was aired (if they still use that word) or before your spouse could, only to have to sit there and watch again later and pretend to be surprised at the latest plot twist? (“Her father is the Brother from Another Planet?! No way!”)

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If watching recorded programs with your loved one is the new intimacy the way “Orange Is the New Black” (a series she binge-watched in its entirety, with her friend Paulette, before I saw a single episode, for the record) I don’t know what it says about the state of couples today.

Too tired for sex but not too tired to watch “Mad Men”? I guess it depends which one takes longer, and which is ultimately more satisfying. (If your wife starts calling you “Don” at intimate moments, there is probably reason for concern. Unless that is your name.)

Some shows are clearly gender-divided, of course. It was much easier to get away with watching the amazingly bloody “Boardwalk Empire” alone since my wife has been known to pass on occasion, after some other disturbing show (“Breaking Bad,” anyone?), and she has had little compunction about watching “Downton Abbey” without me, given my tendency to deride all manor dramas as “Master Race Theater.” Our earliest shared addictions were HBO programs that managed to cross lines of gender appeal despite the male milieu. I still recall my upset when she used Tivo (remember that?) to record “The Sopranos” … in Spanish. The only scenes I understood were the ones in the restaurant.

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A shared addiction is a good thing, I guess, though there are times, catching up on all that we missed in the last week that I feel no better than Rob Ford on a big night out (say, his average Tuesday), reaching for the crack pipe.

One more episode of “Scandal” (and can someone explain to me the appeal of Tony Goldwyn? Has there been an oilier president in TV history? And why is he always hanging around the White House, like it’s a dry-cleaning establishment?) is easy — they’re short, without the commercials. No harm done. And then it’s 2 a.m. and the phone is ringing.

Damn, the kids again. Time to turn off the phone.

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