My husband and I will be married 20 years this May, so we both remember a time before personal technology entered our marital orbit. I’m happy to say that we’re a closely knit unit and a great partnership. And yet a mistress makes tiny assaults on our relationship daily. I’m not talking about another woman, but rather lots of other women, and men too. And YouTubers and fake news and cat videos and gossip sites— all packed neatly in a device that’s pocket-sized and nestles itself between us on a regular basis. Whether it’s his phone or mine, a laptop, tablet or the television, all that connectivity can make it harder than ever to stay connected to the people right next to you. I know that I’m the most important person in my husband’s life (and he knows the same), but when a smartphone diverts so much attention, I can’t help but feel like I’ve slid down the importance scale a couple notches.
So as Valentine’s Day approaches, I’m thinking about how my marriage is faring in the digital age. Do you think technology is hurting or helping relationships?
Lately, I’ve found myself on a campaign against all screens when we’re together, even his beloved Television. I’ve grown to resent watching movies and binging Netflix shows, not because they’re not fantastic (I mean, have you seeen The OA?) but because they waste away so many hours that frankly, our relationship can’t afford to squander— with business, travel and the kids, there just aren’t enough us-two moments left to squander by staring mindlessly at a screen. Not to mention that, invariably, once we set up a show to watch, one of us has “just a couple quick things to do” on the laptop, which means that yet another screen is diverting attention, so we’re not really watching together anyway.
I have written lots of articles about keeping technology out of the bedroom. I wish I could say this rule Is 100% enforced. The truth is, my work day ends when the kids descend on the house in the afternoon, so sometimes I don’t get everything done before that and the evening is when I can finally catch up and finish my day. To do that from bed means I get to at least be in proximity to my husband who I haven’t seen all day. It’s not ideal— I’m working on it.
Of course, there are so many things about technology that help us stay close as a couple. My husband regularly sends me texts that make me laugh out loud, or make my heart swell. A simple “I love you with all my heart” or a poop emoji let me know he’s thinking of me no matter where he is, often when a phone call might not be possible. I can FaceTime with him while one of us is away for work, and sometimes we just leave the phone on while we’re getting ready for bed, so we can chat like we would if we were together.
Another thing I know for sure: It’s not technology that’s the problem, it’s how we use it. If we could set intentions and keep them about showing the people around us that they’re important enough not to drift off into Facebook feeds, emails or following a notification just because it DINGS! at us, technology wouldn’t be such an effective temptress. It’s up to us all to wear the pants in our relationship with technology so that it doesn’t threaten our relationships IRL.
What do you think? Is technology hurting your relationship?