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 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.
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.”
When you shut off the technology, you and your partner can focus more on yourselves. This includes:
Turning off the screens means actually communicating!
There are several ways that you can turn off the screen to support your marriage. For instance:
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:
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.