We live in a crazy time of electronics where many of us spend the entire day in front of a computer screen of some sort. Although we can now do almost anything at the touch of our IPhone, we are jeopardizing relationships because of the attention we give to those screens. Hours quickly pass before we know it, and we’ve neglected our spouse and family. Here are a few suggestions to keep this from happening.
1. Find a time to rationally discuss the issue. Don’t do it when you’re mad because your spouse has neglected you for the third night in a row, or when you have had a rough day dealing with the kids or work, or when either of you is tired, hungry or not feeling well.
2. Agree to set boundaries for computer time and to work on not getting offended when your spouse asks you to turn off the electronics. As for the spouse doing the asking, watch your tone of voice. You could try putting your hand on their arm and saying, “Honey, when you have a minute, I have something I want to tell you.”
3. Plan to have at least two evenings a week with no electronic devices. If your spouse thinks that is unreasonable, then limit the use of electronic devices to one or two hours per evening. Find a compromise that works for you both.
4. Make the evening a family affair in taking care of the kids, preparing dinner, and getting the kids to bed. Be sure to spend at least 15 minutes alone (even more is better) each evening as a couple with no distractions (phones, televisions, and computers).
5. Go on a date together, with no children, at least once a month (again, more is better). Don’t take your phones out at dinner or any other time in the evening. Concentrate on your spouse.
6. Discuss your needs with each other. Make a list of your top five needs – what makes you feel the closest or most intimate to your spouse when they fill that need for you. (For example: with many women the top need is conversation and for men, sex.) This is similar to Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages if you know what they are. Share your lists with each other. Realize that our tendency is to believe our spouse’s needs are the same as our own. Our spouse’s needs are usually totally different than our own, and so we wind up not filling any of their needs.
7. Realize that time on computers and phones can become addictive. Seek help if needed. Marriages are being destroyed by the overuse of electronic devices. Sitting together on the couch while playing on IPads or IPhones or watching television does not qualify as quality time together.
Please leave a comment if you have any ideas for limiting electronic time that work for you and your spouse!