I am deeply concerned about the effects of electronic devices on this generation. Although even baby boomers have been sucked into the spell of smartphones, tablets, Ipads and laptops, it’s the millennials that seem to have permanently attached themselves to these gadgets - much as they did as babies with their pacifiers. A temporary separation causes panic and stress. This epidemic, I’m afraid, is destroying relationships, particularly marriages.
It saddens me to go out to dinner and notice all the people engrossed in their phones while missing out on needed conversation with whoever sits across from them. Isn't that why we go out to dinner? To have time to talk without interruption? Conversation is the key to any successful relationship. Without it, that relationship will die. Rick and I went to Red Lobster in the middle of the afternoon last week and noticed that nobody was rudely playing with their phone. Then we quickly realized that we were probably the youngest people there (Rick is 62 – I am 57). What will happen in 30 something years when most of the baby boomers and older are gone? Will we even know how to converse with one another?
As I talk to young wives and mothers, I hear the same complaint over and over. “My husband comes home and is glued to his phone/Ipad/computer all evening. He gets angry when I suggest that he turn it off and spend some time with the kids and me. He does little to help.”
This is a huge bone of contention between couples. It almost destroyed my marriage when my children were very young, and that was over 25 years ago when we only had computers to deal with. Rick was in an unsatisfying job and needed an outlet when he got home. Since he could only focus on one thing at a time, he poured himself either into computer games or television. An atomic bomb would not have broken his focus. If I tried to talk to him, it was like pulling the needle out of the arm of a junkie before he got his fix. He responded with anger.
After a couple years of feeling completely neglected and then the sudden death of my father, I turned to another man for comfort. God got my attention, though, when I contemplated leaving Rick. Thanks to the grace of God, we stayed together and worked it out.
Now I have to be honest, there are still times that Rick is seduced by the idea of winning victories over other warriors and gets stuck in a war game on his Ipad. After all, that’s what he did as a fighter pilot in the Air Force all those years. I get it. I have moments that I long to perform on stage again and might resort to neglecting my family for that high.
The problem is that most men don’t know when to quit. Because they can usually only focus on one thing at a time, they become lost in whatever they are doing and have difficulty pulling away. Women, on the other hand, are so busy doing everything with their multi-tasking skills. We are aware of all that goes on around us. We have to be, or the kids and animals would destroy the house.
So what do we do? We women need to learn how to approach our husbands, while they are playing in cyberspace, and get their attention without stirring the junkie who only wants more. Men, on the other hand, need to understand how harmful this can be to their marriage relationship and make the effort to implement change. We all have to learn to compromise. Stay tuned as I discuss how to do this.