Smartphones have made it possible to stay connected to social networks at all times of day, which can be both a blessing and a curse. If your relationship is like many others, it could be suffering from too much screen time. More and more couples are losing valuable time spent connecting face-to-face, communicating only about essential information such as errands, in exchange for more scrolling, liking, and commenting.
Technology is Driving a Wedge in Relationships – Here’s How to Change It
Why Technology is an Issue in Relationships
Tech obsessions don’t just diminish the amount of quality time you could be spending with your partner; they also distract you from the important exchanges you should be having with your loved one. Checking in to discuss how your day was, reviewing upcoming plans, and simply showing appreciation for one another’s contributions are important actions that keep a healthy relationship afloat. On the other hand, failure to communicate can create distance, and the gaps that develop between you and your significant can be difficult to close.
Oftentimes you’ll hear people talk about the “fear of missing out” – or FOMO – when it comes to what’s going on online. Yet, there’s a person deserving of your attention sitting just a few feet away. If you’re fortunate enough to be involved in a long-term, committed relationship, it’s important for both parties to give that relationship the attention it deserves. In not doing so, you’re actually the one missing out on what’s right in front of you.
Then there's texting. I tell all my couples that texting anything emotional is a surefire way to possibly have a conflict. Texting is a terrible way to communicate feelings because the words on the screen can be so often misunderstood. There's no way to give context in the same way that voice inflection and facial expression can. No arguing or attempts to connect via text.
How to Fix It
No matter whether it’s both individuals or just one person guilty of spending too much time on the phone, the solution is relatively simple. Develop a tech pact which outlines when phones will be used – and more importantly, when they won’t.
For instance, you might consider instituting a household policy in which phones are placed in a basket during meals and serious conversations. You could also have a rule for both people to stay off their phones for the first half hour after coming home, thereby giving you a chance to talk about your days. Most importantly, the agreement should seem reasonable for both of you. If there’s a serious phone addiction at play, a phased adjustment approach may be necessary.
One other helpful way to approach a phone obsession is to replace social media time with activities you can enjoy together as a couple. Taking a walk around the block, preparing meals, or even watching TV together can promote the bonding needed to keep a relationship strong and healthy.
If you feel as if your partner is checked out and you’re seeking ways to get back on track, turn to Chuck Beardsley, LCSW in Mountainside, NJ. As a trusted relationship counselor, he helps couples work through common issues to reestablish a loving foundation. Browse through some commonly asked questions about the counseling process on his website, or call (908) 274-3189 to schedule an appointment.