Is the new night out, the night in?

Mar 28, 2012, 11:19 IST | Aviva Dharmaraj

We ask whether watching TV for hours with your partner can help boost intimacy, and if it's the 'better' alternative to the weekly dinner-and-movie date

We ask whether watching TV for hours with your partner can help boost intimacy, and if it's the 'better' alternative to the weekly dinner-and-movie date

Earlier this month, feature writer Judith Woods, proposed a rather disconcerting theory in a UK-based publication: Could hours spent watching back-to-back serials actually help couples bond? The resounding answer would be 'yes', if one were to base the theory on Woods' hypothesis.

Yes, because Britain's "middle classes are drawn to ownership and to sense of control offered by a box set". Yes, because those hours of promised watching represented "quality relaxation time". And yes, because "when you spend so long in the company of characters over a short period, you become much more emotionally attached to them than you would if you only watched weekly; it strengthens your feelings towards the person you enjoyed the experience with". Is the DVD box set Britain's answer to America's Dr Phil? Errr. Yes. For now.

Let's get practical
Couples hoping to replicate the formula back home, however, might have less luck. In part, because Indian television serials are far from gender neutral. "Television is seen as being primarily a woman's commodity," says scriptwriter Gautam Hegde, adding, "That's why all our protagonists are women."

Then there's the practical aspect. "We do five episodes a week, that's two-and-a-half hours of content, the equivalent of one movie a week in a show that goes on for at least two years," says Hegde. That would mean a lot of DVDs, requiring a lot of space. "Living room kum ho jayega (there wouldn't be enough space in the living room)," quips Hegde.

Make time to talk
Sexologist Prakash Kothari says that the basis for a solid relationship is communication. Spending hours in front of the TV might, therefore, seem counter-productive to that. "It can boost intimacy, depending on the content," he says, adding, "However, if communication is lacking then it could do more harm than good. TV is the biggest culprit of a lack of communication between couples today."

Agreeing on what to watch could be another hurdle, says Kothari. "It is rare for couples to like the same thing at the same time and in the same place." Cuffe Parade residents Neil and Christina Fernandes are an example of one of those rare couples. "Depending on the day, we catch shows from nine every night till about 11 pm. It is an activity we bond over," he says, adding, "Besides, going out for a movie is so expensive."

Paresh Joshi, who has been married for 23 years, says that since wife Sangeeta's interests are different from his own, he prefers to go out for a dinner and movie together. "Typically, I watch about half an hour of television to get news updates, she usually tunes in to watch her serials," he says.

New responsibilities

TV-watching habits also change over time and an increase in the couple's responsibilities. "By the time my husband gets home, I'm usually asleep," says teacher and mother to a five-year-old girl Rizina Chaterji. "I love music and love to watch the music channels, but some of the moves can be quite inappropriate for my daughter, so I have to monitor what I watch."

The Duchess likes to keep things 'real'

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, irons artworks made by her during
a visit to the Prince's (Charles) Foundation for Children and the Arts at
the Dulwich Gallery in South London on March 15, 2012. Pic/ AFP

The Duchess of Cambridge loves to catch up on reality TV. The woman formerly known as Kate Middleton admitted in an interview to a US magazine that her favourite show is The Only Way Is Essex, a dramality show based in England, which shows "real people in modified situations, saying unscripted lines but in a structured way." The show has been compared to the American reality TV series Jersey Shore, which follows the lives of eight Italian-American housemates.

3 'other' ways couples can boost communication
1. Write romantic notes
While the boys might find this gesture 'too girly', they might change their mind when they realise how many brownie points sticking a pink post-it with 'I Love U!' scribbled on it will get them. If putting down anything in writing freaks you out, send an sms instead. Time to 'man up', boys, letting her in on how you feel, doesn't make you a wimp.

2. Make a date
Remember the good, ol' days? No? Precisely why you should set aside some quality time together free from the kids and those grown-up responsibilities. Nothing too elaborate, or too fancy, it could be a late-night drive to the place you shared your first meal, or first kiss. Anniversaries and birthdays, count, but those come just once a year, right? There are still the other 363 days of the year that you guys are bound together.
3. Be present
Yes, we get that life is stressful. Being an adult isn't easy. You have responsibilities to see to. Been there. Heard that. But one of the ways in which you can make your life less stressful is by being there for your partner, because this is one of the most core relationships. If your partner is unhappy, chances are high that you will inherit that unhappiness too. Think small. When they talk about their day, tune in, not out. All you need to do is be present in the moment -- in mind, body and spirit.

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