Phones Away: Are Screens Dragging Down Your Relationship?
As a culture, we have a problem with our phones. In a study by Deloitte, researchers found that on average Americans look at our phones 52 times a day. Of course, that doesn’t tell us how long we actually spend using them, but even at the most superficial level, all that phone time surely can’t be good for us – and it’s actively harming our relationships. When we’re looking at our phones, we’re not paying attention to each other.
If you’re concerned about how screentime may be impacting your relationship with your partner, the good news is that there are plenty of ways you can adjust your behavior. Whether through intention setting or using device management tools, you can recenter your relationship and stop letting screens monopolize your time.
Set Screen-Free Times
As I glance at my phone off to the side of the table, I know how strong the urge is to pick it up, and it’s unrealistic to think that we’re all just going to toss our phones and tablets into the trash. One thing that you can do, though, is to make sure you’re setting screen-free times during the day, whether that’s during meals, on family game nights, or some other time that’s special to you as a couple.
Identify Conflict Points
Screen-free times are a good way to make sure you’re tuned in to your partner, but it’s important to look beyond those brief periods of time. Does your phone use ever seem to make your partner feel ignored or frustrated, or vice versa? According to research on the impact of technology on couples’ relationships, 60% of participants said technology interfered with couples time every day.
The fact is that, although many couples don’t fight about phone use per se, they do fight more because of screen use because absorption in the digital world keeps us from paying attention to important conversations or shows of affection. Talk openly about how your partner’s screen use makes you feel and what would help you feel more connected.
Make Your Phone A Tool
Phones and other devices may interfere in our intimate relationships, but the bottom line is that they don’t have to do that. Our screens can actually be tools for driving closer relationships. Couples in long-distance relationships use their phones to stay in contact, while those in closer proximity may use their devices to plan dates or send flirtatious messages – not a bad idea, given that screen use is one of the reasons couples are having less sex. If you’re using your phone in the service of your relationship, that’s an entirely different type of screentime, but you have to be intentional about it.
At Emi, we understand that our relationships with technology are complex but more than that, we believe in its powerful potential to improve how couples relate and interact. Our daily relationship reminder app is designed to maximize that closeness by encouraging display of gratitude, open communication, and by helping make positive interactions a routine. Sign up today and start changing how you interact with your partner, and with your phone because simple changes can have a big impact.