How much do you love your phone? Could this statement actually be you? Let’s face it, who doesn’t have a smartphone these days and who doesn’t rely on it? The minority, that’s who. Research tells us that if you are emotionally attached to your smartphone and rely on it every waking minute, it may be harming your relationship and that it is possible that your phone is becoming the ‘third wheel in your relationship’. For me, I’ve had to really seriously look at my business and my life as I am in danger of this happening – and that’s a scary thought.
Living in a society where we British mums spend less time than ever with our partners, we are actually making life that much more difficult for ourselves by committing so much time to our smartphones. If your phone is beginning to interfere in your relationship, (even in a small way), it could seriously start eroding the quality of your relationship. If this behaviour continues over time, and you are unaware of what is happening, you will become less satisfied with the relationship and unhappier with life in general.
Some of us are spending more time on our phones than being with our loved ones scrolling through social media, checking emails and updating texts – often in front of our children creating a “norm” for them. And if we can’t use our phones we become panic stricken, angry and stressed out. And there are even some mums who admitted it would be harder to be without their phone for a week than their partner.
So what is actually happening here?
We are allowing technology to interrupt our conversations, interfere with our intimate relationships and hinder our activities, which, in turn, will impose a huge negative outcome on our partners and children. What appears to be a ‘crazy statement’ is actually too close to the truth – ‘These smartphones could end up ruling our entire lives if we allowed this to happen’.
The problem is, all this has happened so fast we haven’t been able to catch up and set boundaries. We have to have our phones with us wherever we go; even in the bedroom and the bathroom. We feel ‘naked’ without them and this phone can ‘protect’ us from harm.
I knew I had to take charge of my phone and my relationship as I resonated so much with all of this. As I run my entire business from my phone it is of utter importance to me…. but at what cost? That’s the key here – what is your smartphone costing you? Ask yourself that.
Your smartphone could ruin your marriage – that’s a strong statement but here’s how to keep it from ruining yours:
When you’re with your husband and he needs your focus, keep your phone on silent. If you do need to check it, tell him and give him an explanation as to WHY you need to.
Don’t get defensive towards him if he gets annoyed that you’re spending too much time on your smartphone. It’s his way of saying ‘I want to connect with you in person’ and that’s nice!
Don’t criticise him if he says, “‘You never pay attention to me anymore! All you care about is that Facebook or Instagram! (or whatever!)! Criticism is a form of judgment and will lead to an argument which will start to put up a barrier between you.
Talk about it – ask him if it’s a problem you being on your phone, as much as you are, is a problem, don’t ASSUME it’s ok just because everyone else does it.
Set the boundaries – now things are out in the open it’s much easier to set some ‘rules’. This will really help you to protect yourselves against potential conflict and you will both understand each other’s expectations.
Be mindful as you go about your day and not detracted by your digital world – ask yourself do you really need to check that message immediately, distracting you from being in the here and now?
How can you be intimate with your partner when you are constantly being diverted by the pings and alerts reminding you of the flow of messages arriving on your smartphone? Ever seen a husband and wife commenting back to each other on Facebook? Start talking to the person who you are with and not through social media.!
Remind yourself that all relationships are built on give and take and by constantly using your smartphone you could be losing sight of this, allowing yourself to become attached to strangers (seemingly friends) online, making you lose connection with the real world and actually start to depend on a virtual world altogether.
The impact of these measures have been profound and we’ve naturally incorporated these boundaries into our daily lives so we stay on track. Here’s some golden rules I’ve adopted and you should too:
We don’t allow the smartphones on in the bedroom after 10pm.
No phones are allowed at the table whilst we are eating any meal.
During conversations with each other we put our phones away.
We are open and honest with each other regarding the use of our phones ensuring we both understand how important we are to each other and also the impact our smartphones can have if we let things slide.
Written By Louise Armstrong. Louise is a Family Relationship Coach who grew up in the UK and now lives in Dubai. She aims to empower women and help them heal broken relationships to relationships filled with joy and love.