There is no avoiding it: as we enter a new decade, tech has become an inseparable part of our daily lives. A recent report reveals that the average person in the UK spends over a day online every week. But remember: you’re not married to your phone!
How can we make sure we look up from our screens and give our spouses the attention they’re due? And how can we use the benefits tech offers to our advantage? Here are a few expert tips on how to maintain a healthy marriage in this age of distraction.
When to text and when not to text
How many ways do you talk to your partner? Texting, face-to-face, facetime, facebook messenger, twitter DMs, Instagram comments. It’s a bit much, isn’t it?
A 2013 study by the University of Illinois discovered that in relationships that involve multiple forms of communication (so, every relationship), success comes down to switching between one form and the next. “The quality and success of modern relationships may be influenced by how people use various modes of communication together,” the study said.
So, if you’re having trouble communicating, look and see if your problems can be traced back to one app. And then delete it.
Set yourself reminders
You will not remember everything. You may forget appointments, nights out. Maybe even anniversaries. In a bygone age these memory blanks may have led to fierce arguments, nights on the couch, maybe worse! Now, our trusty digital calendars can do a lot of the hard work for us.
This piece inPsychology Todayrecommends setting reminders on your phone about any big deadlines or events your partner may have, particularly if you think they may require additional support around this time - a big meeting at work or a university deadline, for instance. Free up your actual memory for more important things, like pub quiz trivia and when to change your fantasy football team.
Leave it out of the bedroom
Let’s be honest: when we talk about our relationship with technology, what we mean is our phones. How long do we spend looking at our screens vs looking at each other?
“Smartphones may be particularly disruptive if both partners are on their phones in bed,” says health journalist Brooke Lea Foster in the New York Times, adding, “Therapists say that when a marriage hits a rocky patch, they’ve seen one or both partners hide behind their phones.”
Leave your phones out of the bedroom guys! Leave it charging in the corner, don’t have it an arms length away from where you sleep. Nothing on your phone is conducive to a good night’s rest anyway. You’ll just pick it up and end up arguing with someone on twitter or buying something you don’t really need.
Sexting isn’t just for singles
Sexting maybe more commonly associated with horny, flirty singles, but why let them have all the fun?
A recent study revealed that both men and women reported greater “positive consequences” from sexting in committed relationships than in casual ones. Around half of sexters reported it “positively influenced their sexual and emotional relationships with a partner,” and the research also shows those in a committed relationship who sent sexual pictures to their partners reported more positive sexual and emotional outcomes than those in casual relationships. That’s science.
That said, do not use the winking emoji. Nothing kills the vibe faster than the winking emoji. And don’t just come in all guns blazing. Stay smart, lest your inner-most desires be read by fellow commuters while your partner is on the bus home from work.
A couple who streams together, stays together
If you feel like your relationship with your partner and your relationship with tech are competing, a simple solution could be to combine the two.
“Using tech together can give both parties a greater sense of attachment, safety, or control,”say Reader’s Digest in Canada, which basically means you need to sync up your binge watches. Don’t skip ahead to the next episode just because you can’t wait. Don’t be that guy. Nobody likes that guy.
The wisdom of crowds
Have you ever been on the Relationships sub-reddit? It is an absolute goldmine for gossip. Or how about the Am I The Asshole page, where people wonder whether they’re in the wrong in their own personal argument? You could lose hours of your life to these tiny soap operas, but also, they could provide the wisdom you require.
Rhonda Milrad, relationship coach and founder of Relationup, sees online relationship forums as invaluable:
“Forums provide an excellent opportunity for people to seek out advice,” she says. “The hardest thing to do in any conflict is to examine your own behaviour and understand how we contribute to the problem. It is through this understanding that easier and more effective repairs can be made.”