We live in an age where we have electronic devices that were only dreamed of by past generations. Things we never believed possible have become part of our daily lives. Within the last 15 years, the technological advances open to us have soared so quickly that most of us cannot keep up. Many new electronic devices and gadgets are meant to make communication simpler. Email, text messages, and cell phones make it so we are in constant contact with anybody we want. It sounds like it should enhance our communication.
In reality, electronics seem to cause problems for many married couples. Instead of supporting communication, they seem to create a barrier. Instead of allowing more time together, they take away quality time together for numerous couples. Instead of making work more manageable, it encourages many individuals to take work home with them. Access to the newest technology isn't bad and doesn't need to be bad for your marriage. However, setting some limits with your spouse and monitoring your usage is essential. Taking proactive steps to manage your use of electronics can be helpful to your relationship.
Are you guilty of not paying attention if your mate tries to say something to you while watching television? If you are using the computer, do you occasionally respond with "yep" or "uh huh" but have no clue what your partner just said to you? Do you send text messages while riding in the car, during dinner, or while you are out on a date? These are just a few illustrations of how technology can interrupt a couple's quality time.
Setting aside technology daily and making time for each other is essential. And when you spend time together, really be present with your spouse and not check your email or answer text messages.
Speak to your spouse about a reasonable time frame to use electronics daily. For example, maybe two hours of television and computer time seems a practical limit. Or perhaps you feel 30 minutes a day is sufficient. Of course, every couple will have a distinct limit depending on schedules and obligations.
Then, without any changes, spend a week tracking how much time you spend on your cell phone, the computer, playing video games, or watching television, and record it each day. This is often eye-opening for many individuals. Most people misjudge how much time they spend using electronics each day and are shocked to realize how many hours they spend operating them.
Once you know how much time you spend using the electronics, create a plan to reduce your usage if required. For example, replace the time you usually spend watching television talking to your partner. Instead of communicating through text or social media, spend quality time together. Schedule a date night. Go outside together. Do things together that can help build your connection.
Leave your cell phone at home when you go on a date together. If the thought of this conjures feelings of panic, remember that not very long ago, people didn't own cell phones and survived just fine. If you can't bear not to have it, at least consent to turn it on silent and sidestep, constantly checking to see if you miss anything. The point is to provide your spouse with attention.
These are some ways to ensure that electronics do not interfere with your marriage. Contact us today to schedule couples counseling in Orlando. We are here for you!
Heather Oller is a licensed Orlando therapist at Orlando Thrive Therapy, Coaching & Counseling who specializes in counseling Orlando couples, individuals, and families who are seeking changes in their lives. She has been a mental health professional for over 17 years and is a practicing Orlando counselor that specializes in conflict resolution for couples. You can contact her for an appointment or call 407-592-8997 for more information.