Comedian Will Ferrell once tweeted, “Before you get married, ask yourself: is this the person you want to watch stare at their phone the rest of your life?” This is comical because it’s so close to the truth–and I see this type of behavior between couples frequently.
I realize that this is going to put me in the weird/lurker category, but I enjoy taking photos of couples sitting at a restaurant or fast-food establishment who are eating together but not connecting because both of their heads are down, lost in their phones. My wife thinks I’m obnoxious for taking these photos, but it has become a hobby (again, I realize I’m strange), and I’ll often use those images during my presentations on communication. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I was in a restaurant and didn’t see a couple on their phones in some way. I’m too scared to do this, but I’m always tempted to approach them and say, “Do you really need to be on your phone right now? You have a chance to connect with your partner through life-giving words, and you are wasting those precious opportunities.” Cathy thinks I’m doing the exact same thing–wasting time–by trying to take these photos without getting caught. I explain it away as research. She uses a different r-word: ridiculous. I now only do it when I’m by myself. I’m constantly amazed at what a communication block our little mobile devices have become.
What about you? Is your smartphone making you dumb? Has it become a technological leash that is getting more attention than your spouse? There is compelling evidence that phones, computers, and tinkering on social media can not only trigger conflict but also become a block to good communication. If your gadgets are getting in the way of healthy dialogue with your spouse, you may need to put yourself on gadget restriction or media time-out. In a previous generation we were warned that too much TV could stunt the health of a relationship. Today’s generation has diversified their media time to include much more than TV, and the accessibility and portability of our gadgets are creating addicting behaviors. The bottom line is this: gadget addiction will absolutely shut down intimacy with your spouse. The antidote is simple, but for many, a challenge nonetheless. You can improve communication and intimacy when you make the choice of putting down your gadgets so that you can be present with and attentive to your spouse.
(Adapted from Getting Ready for Marriage by Jim Burns and Doug Fields.)