Our smartphones are consuming our daily lives. Statistics show that Americans check their phones on average over 110 times a day! Our phones never leave our side; no matter what we are doing they are always there and accessible to us. For good or for ill, they have become our constant companion.
For many people the smartphone has become a “third wheel” in many marriages, making many spouses feel like they are competing with phones for sacred time with their spouse. How often do check the phone while talking with our spouse? How often does our attention leave the conversation when the phone rings, a text message or email comes in, or we hear a social media alert? I would guess more often than not when this happens our attention is then directed to our phone. We can’t wait to check that message, email or take a phone call.
Imagine you’re trying to have a meaningful conversation with your spouse and they are reading a book or playing a game on their phone while you are trying to communicate. What kind of message does that send? How offensive would that be? The reality is this is happening constantly in our relationships. We are competing for time and attention with our spouse and phone, and many times the phone wins.
A youth leader in California was giving a lesson to a group of youth on the effects of technology and how addicting it can be. He asked all of the youth to turn off their phones at the start of the lesson but few of them did. As he started to speak, he sent a mass text to each of the youth’s phones as he began talking (he had prepared this stunt beforehand). He was curious what would happen. As he looked into the audience he could see most of the youth’s attention had left him. Within a very short period of time, most of the youth were trying to secretly check their phones and could not even wait a few minutes, as they were so anxious to see who it was that texted them. After many of them checked their phones, the leader could see a look of embarrassment on the youth’s faces as they realized who it was that sent the message and read what it said. This example illustrates how distracting our phones can be in our lives.
The best time for meaningful communication that brings life to a relationship is at the end of the day. Whether you’re lying in bed together, in deep discussion, snuggling, kissing or being intimate, a smartphone can destroy those precious times that are a not only needed, but a necessity in a relationship.
Sadly, for many people, instead of using precious time to reconnect, they are on their phones looking at news, sport scores, playing games, checking social media or responding to text messages or emails. When this happens, we are unintentionally sending a message to our spouse that we value others more than we value time with our spouse.
Letting your smartphone distract you during any special moments with your spouse — whether it’s leisure time, during dinner, date night or other activities — can make your spouse feel as if they are competing to get your attention. You are sending the message that you’re not fully invested in the moment.
The impact is severe. For example, in the middle of a conversation, if one spouse accepts a phone call or responds to a text, attention shifts from spouse to device. This is not only rude, but it also severs the relational connection. This is like sending implicit messages to your spouse about what you value most, leading to conflict and negative outcomes in personal life and relationships.
Another example would be if you pull out your phone to check sports scores while you’re on a date with your spouse, or when you read a text while at the dinner table, or you look at Facebook while watching a movie together. This will send a message to your spouse that they are less important than your phone.
Research has also shown that social media and many of the time consuming things we do on our smartphones can be more addictive than drugs. Think about it, what do you do when you hear your phone ding with a text message, email, or social media message? Most people can’t go 60 seconds before they begin to feel withdrawn or anxious unless they to check their phone.
We need to be very careful and honest with ourselves about how much precious time our phones, entertainment, and technology is taking over our lives and affecting our relationships.
A great way to combat this is to have mutually agreed-upon times and/or limits for your smartphones, TV, computers and tablets so you can give 100 percent of your attention to each other during the sacred times you have together. Some good examples may be:
- No phones in our bedroom before we go to sleep.
- No technology at the dinner table or in the restaurant.
- Limit the use of technology by setting a time limit.
- Set specific times of day that technology will not be used in the home.
By employing some of these simple things in your life, you can keep technology from destroying the things that matter most. For more great articles like this, check out the resource section of the Ultimate Intimacy App!