I can’t think of how many times I wished cell phones, computers, Ipads and tablets didn’t exist. I say that, and here I am typing away at this post. But I can’t help but dwell on the fact that technology holds such power in this world – and in our relationships. I mean, technology has literally become our lifeline.
If I don’t answer my phone for an entire day – friends and family begin to worry for my well being or question my loyalty, and my previous job probably would have fired me. “Checking in”, having our phones at our hip, and obsessively looking for notifications or messages (even when we know there are none) has literally taken us over.
We can barely keep our heads afloat without technology in arm’s reach. Don’t believe me? Try it for a day, two days, or a week. We are creatures of habit – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing – but we’re not always great at having balance or distinguishing habits that have negative effects over time.
And what ends up suffering the most because of it is our personal relationships – our significant other.
In my marriage, technology has greatly consumed what should be the best time in our lives. It has taken away time that should be spent improving on our lifetime – together. It has been blamed for many sparked arguments, feelings of neglect and the trickling down in the priority of our marriage. And I never truly realized how turning off technology positively impacts relationships, until I implemented it into my own.
Though it was something my husband and I caught early on, it was a bad habit we both admitted to. Our jobs don’t help at all, either, since we rely entirely on aspects of technology to get our work done. But we also fail to realize that the only way technology controls us is because we allow it to. We were allowing it to consume the limited time we had together.
“When we’re not working – there’s no reason to need our phones attached to our hips.”
“When we are spending time together – why do we let distractions get in the way?”
This is what we failed to see.
“If I don’t respond to text messages or calls right away – then I’m a nobody, and it could jeopardize my friendships.”
“If I don’t catch up on social media at least every few hours – I may miss something, fall behind and forever be lonely in the world.”
“I don’t really have a reason for checking my phone – I just do in hopes that someone or something connects with me.”
And this is what consumes us.
All I knew was this: I was not about to let my marriage come 2nd in my life – to a smartphone. It was then we mutually made a pact to work on this aspect of our marriage – powering down technology for the sake of our relationship. And since then it has made 4 positive impacts on our marriage.
How Turning Off Technology Positively Impacts Relationships
4 Ways That Positively Impacted My Marriage
from simply powering down technology
We share intimacy longer, and more often
That doesn’t mean just sex. But simply time together, where we are the only two people in the room – without our entire social lives pinging in.
You can’t tell me you don’t remember the times when you were 15 – 16 years old, rebelliously out and about with your young Love, leaving your cell phone behind or turned off so that your parents couldn’t track you down. Just simply not caring about the double-life behind your phone – literally nothing else mattered. Just you and him – in this big, big world together. The adrenaline rush.
That feeling. It can still exist.
And though it may feel odd at first (not having your phone at your side, or clinging next to you on the couch), after time you will find that you appreciate there being a world where only the two of you matter in it. No one and nothing else. And trust me, it feels great.
It encourages us to go the extra mile
Literally – the extra mile. When it’s that time my husband comes home from work (when he works days), I know that’s my cue to shut down my laptop for the day, set my phone to an emergency ringer and leave it somewhere I’m less likely to check it unless it’s urgent.
And in that time, my focus is then dedicated to my husband. It’s still rather new for us, and sometimes imperfect, as we tend to find ourselves in a state of panic, “What do we talk about?” or “What do we do now?” And I absolutely hate that – I hate that we let our relationship get to that point in the first place. Where being disconnected from the outside world is abnormal. And nothing slowly annoyed me more than having a husband who worked 12+ hours a day, coming home to consistently finding nothing more satisfying than being nose-deep in social media instead of engaging with his wife, who he hadn’t talked to all day.
So as a work in progress, we find ourselves really digging deep in spending that quality time together, and making it count. Whether it’s reading a book together, snuggling up on the couch, cooking together and actually sitting down to a meal (since our schedules are polar opposites half the year) or spending the little time before bed to simply talk, and talk about anything and everything. It also encourages us to make plans in advanced, instead of planting ourselves in front of the TV, or passing the time on our phones.
As a police wife, who is limited in simply getting the time to talk with my husband that works nights 6 months of the year, it’s sometimes unbearably difficult. I now feel for those in long distance relationships. But we go the extra mile in making the time even when our schedules do not align.
Allows us to really connect and engage
Because that’s the only connection we should be having – is with each other. Not with the outside world constantly in the middle, being the sole dictator or distraction of our relationship.
It was getting to a point where we were barely hearing one another speak. Our eyes never lifted from the screens, and our minds were too cued into exterior conversations, unread e-mails, work-related issues off the clock, and nonsense news such as what gender Caitlyn Jenner is today.
If you have never measured how much time you actually spend on your phone, computer, or television versus what you give your spouse – you’d be surprised at how giving up that allotted time away from the outside world changes just you alone. What you see, hear, want, need, think and desire – it fills and enlightens you, and suddenly you’re able to think and feel more clearly.
I suddenly had desires, wants and needs from my husband I didn’t know I had before. I wanted more time with him. I desired the attention from my husband more so than Facebook notifications or Text Messages, and I wanted him to want to engage me with me just as much in return.
We were (and still are at times) that couple that sat on the couch, phones in hand, beaming into the bright light of the screens – typing away. And sometimes bursting out in laughs. LAUGHING – to ourselves! And we’re less than 2 feet from each other – not even acknowledging one another’s presence.
Now, in time and progression, we’re far more aware and engaged when one shouts across the house, “Hey, we should go to the farmer’s market this weekend!” and confident in giving or receiving a response.
Powering down our technology has allowed us to be more emotionally available (if you can believe a device could keep from allowing such a thing!) in growing deeper in our marriage. Rather than before – where it felt stagnant in many ways.
Shows our respect and value in the relationship
In the beginning, we called ourselves lucky just to be able to walk away from our phones for 10 lousy minutes – without needlessly checking for messages, e-mails or phone calls. Mind you – ringers on and all!
My husband is still guilty of taking his phone into the bathroom with him (for reading material, as he likes to call it). I’m past calling it “reading material” when it causes him to be in the bathroom longer than necessary every single time. And he’s a frequent bathroom user, already. While I, as a blogger, still tend to feel the need to check on notifications and stats when unnecessary.
But not only is powering down our technology allowing us to go above and beyond, it has also diverted into a sign of respect. Not just for each other, but respecting the reason behind limiting technology in the first place. Meaning, we refrain from using our phones at the dinner table, or when we’re out to eat in public, for example.
A choice in behavior out of respect. It’s the mutual understanding that allowing technology to get in the way of our marriage is doing more harm than good, and that bettering our relationship is far more important.
Looking for ways to help power down your technology instead of your relationship? It just takes one great date idea to get on track – date ideas that will deepen your relationship.
Read on for more advice on sustaining a healthy, lifelong romance in your marriage, or the best marriage advice I was given as a newlywed.