Fiona McCade: Box clever to share passion with your life partner

An army of armchair fans follows Game of Thrones on the small screen. Picture: HBO
An army of armchair fans follows Game of Thrones on the small screen. Picture: HBO
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Harmony in the home can be maintained when soulmates on the sofa become immersed in Game of Thrones, writes Fiona McCade

This scenario often happens at my house, but it may also be familiar to you. Husband and I are cuddled up together on the sofa, alone at last, at the end of a long day.

The conversation usually goes like this: Me: “How about it? We’ve got at least an hour.” Him: “No, I can’t, not tonight.” Me: “Oh please, just one.” Him: “It’d be great, but I have to be up really early in the morning and you know we’re no good at restraining ourselves. If we start, we’ll be at it all night.” Me: “I know, but please … I can’t wait until tomorrow. And you know you want to.” He shuffles, uncomfortably, then sighs: “You’re right. I really, really want to. OK, I give in.” And I squeal with joy and thrust the next episode of Game of Thrones into the DVD player.

I may not have been one of the thousands who stayed up all night on Monday to see the first episode of series 4, but I am hopelessly devoted to GoT. I don’t have Sky, so I wait for the box sets to come out, and whenever I get one in my hands, I’m lost to the world until I’ve devoured every second of screen time.

I thought this was normal behaviour. Even if you have a life, the lure of some television series can be so great, there’s no resisting the luxury of immersing yourself in another world. GoT is particularly addictive, but there’s no harm in it, is there?

Unfortunately for me – and many like me – one recent survey of avid box set viewers came to the conclusion that such pleasures damage our psychological wellbeing.

A total of 2,000 adults were asked about their television watching habits and it turns out that, when it comes to our favourite series, most of us can’t stop once we’ve started. A quarter of respondents said they had jettisoned social engagements because they were so engrossed in a box set, or catch-up TV.

Half said that, on occasion, they had been known to choose a marathon viewing session over a night’s sleep. The poll also found that 15 per cent had rejected their lovers’ advances and kept watching.

These findings were presented as dismal proof that television can make you obsessive, reclusive and wreck relationships.

OK, when it comes to my obsession with GoT, I’m guilty as charged – but only until I’ve watched every episode I can. After that, it’s back to normality (well, apart from an occasionally overwhelming need to perch plastic dragons on my shoulders). As for reclusive, if it’s a choice between an evening with friends and a night spent with the deliciously amoral, back (and front) stabbing Lannisters, then friends can wait. Besides, real mates will understand that I just need to finish this series and then I’ll be back in circulation, honestly I will…

However, the suggestion that GoT could destroy my relationship couldn’t be more wrong. On the contrary, GoT has enhanced my marriage.

Admittedly, my husband took a bit of persuading to join me. “It’s got dragons in it,” he sneered. “No thanks.”

But I begged and pleaded, and so he agreed to watch one episode – just one, mind you – and then wham! He was addicted.

Far from driving us apart, GoT has given us a whole new world of conversation; even a new vocabulary. It’s not just that when my husband asks me something these days, he starts his sentence with: “O, moon of my life” and I reply: “What is it, my sun and stars?”

No, instead of half-heartedly discussing stuff like who should bleed the radiators and what the hell’s happened to that set of Allen keys, we now have passionate debates about who Jon Snow’s mother might be.

We haven’t talked so much since Rome finished.

Shared interests are the glue that keeps relationships together, so I really don’t see how sharing a mutual love for a television series would diminish the love you have for each other.

As far as my marriage is concerned, we now have a brand new reason to be together more often. We’re using this new, common interest as an excuse to give ourselves permission to snuggle, chat and thoroughly enjoy ourselves.

It’s the in-house equivalent of Date Night. Since we started watching GoT, our child’s bedtime has never been so strictly observed. In fact, the whole household is being unusually well run.

Got to make time for the important stuff.

Over the years, our relationship has benefited from quite a few television series. For our first anniversary, I bought my husband I, Claudius, because I wanted him to see how brilliant it was and I knew he’d love it. The fact that we reached our second anniversary is proof that he did. As I mentioned earlier, we bonded even further over Rome.

Then he brought series like Extras and The Thick of It to the table and each successful box set further cemented our respect and appreciation of each other.

What’s not to adore about someone who likes – and, crucially, gets – The Thick of It?

Inevitably, there have been some disappointments. I couldn’t persuade him to stick with Downton Abbey; he forgave me my disinterest in his Band of Brothers heroes. But the marriage survived.

Some couples join the Sealed Knot. Others go dancing, or hiking. Many more of us simply like to curl up and watch some really good telly.

However, I can see that if one partner is obsessed with GoT, and the other isn’t, that might cause friction. On the other hand, if you’re in your right mind, why on earth would you want to be with someone who doesn’t like GoT?

So, the solution is simple; get your other half watching and if they’re right for you, they’ll be hooked in minutes. Because when two people share a great television series, the meeting of minds is worth the sleep and sex deprivation.

Anyway, when you’ve got Game of Thrones, who needs sex?