We’re living in an age where we have electronic tools that were only dreamed about by past generations. Things we never thought possible have become part of our everyday lives. Within the past 15 years, the technological advances available to us have skyrocketed so fast that most of us can’t keep up.
Many of these new electronic tools and gadgets are supposed to make communication easier. Email, text messaging, and cell phones should make it so we can be in constant contact with anyone we wish. Sounds like it should really improve our communication.
The truth is, electronics seem to be causing problems for a lot of married couples. Instead of helping communication, they seem to be a barrier. Instead of allowing for more time together, they seem to be taking away quality time together for many couples. Instead of making work easier, it seems it encourages many people to take their work home with them.
Having access to the latest technology isn’t a bad thing and it doesn’t have to be bad for your marriage. It is important however, to set some limits with your spouse and to monitor your usage. Taking some proactive steps to address your usage of electronics can be very helpful to your relationship.
Give Your Spouse Quality Attention
If your spouse tries to say something to you while you are watching television are you guilty of not paying attention? If you are using the computer do you sometimes respond with “yep” or “uh huh” but have no idea what your spouse just said to you? Do you send text messages while riding in the car together, during dinner, or while you are on a date together? These are just a few examples of ways in which technology can interfere with a couple’s quality time.
It is important to set aside technology each day and make time for each other. And when you are spending time together, make sure you can really be present with your spouse and not checking your email or answering text messages.
Set Limits on Electronics Usage
Talk to your spouse about what time frame seems like it is a reasonable amount of time to use electronics a day. Perhaps two hours of television and computer time seems like a good limit. Or maybe you think 30 minutes a day is enough. Each couple will have a different limit depending on your schedules and responsibilities.
Then, without making any changes, spend one week keeping track of how much time you spend using your cell phone, using the computer, playing video games, or watching television. Write it down each day. This can be eye-opening for many people. Most people underestimate how much time they really spend using electronics each day and are surprised to see how many hours they actually spend using electronics.
Once you are aware of how much time you actually spend using the electronics, develop a plan to decrease your usage if necessary. Replace time you usually spent watching television with talking to your spouse. Instead of communicating via text message or social media, spend time together. Plan a date night. Get outside together. Do something together that can help build your relationship.
Agree to leave your cell phone at home when you go on dates together. If the thought of this invokes feelings of panic, remember that not too long ago, people didn’t have cell phones and they survived just fine. If you can’t bear to not have it, at least agree to turn it on silent and avoid constantly checking to see if you are missing anything. The point is to give your spouse the attention.
Willing to take a more radical approach to decreasing your dependence on electronics? Consider electronics fast! Spend just one week without the television, computer, and other electronics. Can’t imagine giving up everything for a whole week? Try just one thing, such as television.
Giving up electronics for a short period of time will help you reconnect. It can remind you of how to spend quality time together doing something that doesn’t involve technology. It can help you rediscover other things you like to do and can make a big difference in your relationship.
Even if you don’t “fast” from electronics, consider setting some ground rules. For example, turn off the television during dinner. Shut off the computer an hour before you go to bed, etc. These sorts of rules can help ensure that you are interacting with each other more than with the electronics.