Your Phone and Your Relationship
Overview of this episode:
You and your partner might be feeling disconnected lately. And there’s a chance some of the disconnection in your relationship could stem from too much focus being on the phone screen, and not enough focus on each other. With social media, group messages, emails, and any information you could ever think of needing or wanting in the palm of your hand, it’s so easy to get distracted from the world in front of you and the relationships around you. Romantic relationships get sidelined, and you take away from the authenticity with your partner in exchange for sharing the highlights with the world.
In this episode, we talk about all the ways technology might be harming your marriage.
I’m also including some helpful information found in recent research studies on technology and relationships.
Along with that, I’m sharing some specific, simple steps you and your spouse can take to reconnect in your marriage and to set some boundaries with your phones.
Main points about phones and relationships:
Learn ways to recognize when and how technology and phone use is an issue for your relationship:
- Do you catch yourself zoning out, getting stuck in the black hole of your newsfeed for several minutes (or hours?) at a time?
- Do you stay on your phone when you could be greeting your spouse when you both return home from work?
- Is the phone at the dinner table (or breakfast or lunch)?
- When you go to bed at night, are you on your phone instead of spending time with your spouse?
- Are date nights and/or weekends spent on technology more than getting some face-to-face interaction with your partner?
What the research shows us about phones and relationships:
- Snubbing your partner and focusing on your phone predicts conflict in your relationship, which can then decrease your own life satisfaction (Roberts & David, 2016).
- Face to face interactions with your partner are more dissatisfying with the presence of phones, and it’s much more difficult to resolve a conflict if at least one partner is looking at their phone during the conflict (Roache, 2018).
- A partner spending more time on Facebook can be an intrusion in the relationship and can result in jealousy and dissatisfaction in the relationship (Elphinston & Noller, 2011).
What you can do to make changes with your phone use and restore connection with your spouse:
- Prioritize the small moments, the goodbyes before work and greetings when you return home. Put your phone down to connect with your spouse in those moments.
- Find the pattern: are you choosing your phone when you feel neglected by your partner choosing theirs? Be intentional in these moments to stop the pattern and reconnect.
- Put the phone away for dinner or other shared meals.
- Give your phones a bedtime at least 30 minutes before your own.
- Create some boundaries around what times of the day and how long you’ll be on your phone, and how late in the evening you’ll be on social media or responding to texts or emails.
- This is about you choosing to prioritize your marriage over your phone.
(2012). The Effects of Cell Phone Usage Rules on Satisfaction in Romantic Relationships. Communication Quarterly, 60(1), 17–34. https://doi.org/10.1080/01463373.2012.642263
González-Rivera, J. A., & Hernández-Gato, I. (2019). Conflicts in Romantic Relationships over Facebook Use: Validation and Psychometric Study. Behavioral Sciences (2076-328X), 9(2), 18. https://doi.org/10.3390/bs9020018
Roberts, J. A. & David, M. E. (2016). My Life Has Become a Major Distraction from My Cell Phone: Partner Phubbing and Relationship Satisfaction. AMA Winter Educators’ Conference Proceedings 27 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2015.07.058
Roache, D. J. (2018). “Can you just put your phone away?”: The effects of cell phone use on face-to-face conflict in romantic relationships. http://hdl.handle.net/2142/102880
Elphinston, R. A., & Noller, P. (2011). Time to Face It! Facebook Intrusion and the Implications for Romantic Jealousy and Relationship Satisfaction Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking 14(11), 631-635. https://doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2010.0318