As technology continues to take over our world, the importance of quality time spent with one another becomes even more critical. The Pew Research Center found that 25% of cell phone users in committed relationships felt that their partner was distracted by their cell phone during time spent together. Although this statistic might not seem overwhelmingly significant, I have sat with so many couples who feel that cell phones, tablets, and other electronic devices are a source of contention in their relationship. The couples I work with complain that surfing the Internet, responding to emails, and texting others too often takes precedence over spending meaningful time together.
What do we do?
Many couples find it difficult to unplug, in part due to the changes in the world around us. We are now expected to respond to work emails after business hours, text our friends back instantaneously, and to be generally available to others. It is crucial that couples create their own rules about how to manage the fast paced environment we live and work in, which will undoubtedly help connectivity and intimacy.
- Time Limit: Create a mutually agreed upon time limit for using devices. Maybe that means 30 minutes/evening, or 20 minutes before dinner and another 20 minutes before getting into bed. There is no right or wrong answer, the answer lies in what works best for you and your partner.
- Communicate: Have an unexpected deadline or a work crisis? Share that information with your partner to help them better understand why you are spending so much time away from them and staring at the screen. If you communicate your needs, the chances of the device use becoming an issue are much lower.
- Express Yourself: Help your partner understand why using your cell phone, tablet, or computer is important for you. Maybe it helps you connect with friends who no longer live close by, maybe it is the best forum to communicate with your colleagues about a work project. Whatever the case, share your thoughts and feelings with you partner to help them better understand why you have an interest in spending time using your electronics.
If creating some guidelines for electronic device usage is not working, and you continue to argue over this topic, you may benefit from additional guidance. I would be glad to help you work through this issue, so please do not hesitate to contact me at 312-729-5089 for a free 15-minute consultation.