Turn Off the Screen to Enrich Your Marriage—Why It Works

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In today’s technology-rich environment we live surrounded by screens. TV’s, cell-phones, and computers have become common in most households. But, how well do we truly understand the effects these devices have on our relationships, including our marriages? By taking a new look at these devices we can choose to turn off the screens and focus our attention on each other.

Research Into Screens and Relationships

Research into this subject has produced some interesting results. For instance, one study by researchers at Brigham Young University surveyed 143 women or those in a cohabitating relationship. The majority of respondents to an online questionnaire said that devices,

“frequently interrupted their interactions, such as couple leisure time, conversations, and mealtimes with their partners.”

The researchers referred to this as “technoference,” and that these events lowered the quality and satisfaction of relationships. Why? Because individuals, whether they intended to or not, were sending the message to their partners that they valued the technology more than their partner.
This naturally led to more conflict in relationships.

Turn Off the Screen-Why It Matters

The BYU research brings up an important point. When you use technology with your partner present you are prioritizing what you see on screen rather than your partner. For a successful relationship to work, each person needs to know that the other has their best interests in mind. That is, that your partner “has your back.” If you can’t trust your partner to be present, to listen, and to remain engaged, how can you trust them with other aspects of your life?
When you turn off the screen, you are sending the message to your partner, “you matter.”  

Turn Off the Screen-Why It Works

When you shut off the technology, you and your partner can focus more on yourselves. This includes:

  • Having important conversations relevant to your relationship.
  • Listening to what each other has to say.
  • Being more aware of how each of your actions affect the other.
  • Making sure you are both on the same page when it comes to things like finances, parenting, and other concerns.

Turning off the screens means actually communicating!  

Ways to Turn Off the Screen

There are several ways that you can turn off the screen to support your marriage. For instance:

  • Declare certain rooms in the house screen-free. These can include the kitchen and bedroom.
  • Agree to turn off the devices 30-minutes or more before going to bed.
  • Limit what you watch and how long you watch TV. Ask yourself if you could be doing something else than watching a TV show or movie.
  • Leave the phone at home or in the car when going on date-night.
  • Ask first if one person needs to use a screen in front of the other.
  • Dedicate some time during the day, such as after dinner, to talk as a couple, without the screens on.
  • Pause what you are doing and put the screen down, if your partner needs to talk to you and you won’t be distracted.

Participating in “Analog” Activities

Another way that you can get some screen-free time and improve your relationship is to participate in “analog” activities as a couple. These are activities that require your full attention and engage your body and mind. Consider these ideas:

  • Bike
  • Play a sport
  • Fish
  • Go for a hike. In Rexburg, ID we have lots of great hiking trails!

Anything that allows you and your partner to be active participants, not spectators, can help reduce the amount of time spent in front of a screen.
Technology has become an important part of our daily lives. However, it is important to create some separation. When you turn off your screen and focus your attention on your partner, you are choosing to strengthen the bonds of your relationship.

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