Love More, Text Less: Ways Couples Can Improve Their Relationship by Shutting Off Their Devices

For Huff Post

You no longer exist separate from your devices. Whether it’s the weather, texts for business or personal schedules and updates, there are many things you can’t do unless you have a digital connection.

When I was contacted by the Huffington Post to discuss the topic, I explained that there is an intruder or third party in the relationship that comes between you. It’s called “technoference.” And arguments over technoference cannot be resolved with technology: A study last year by Brigman Young University revealed that serious conversations and apologies do more harm than good when it comes to maintaining a healthy relationship, if they are done via text. And social skills don’t fully develop when you grow up text messaging because you don’t get to see the nuances of human behavior and don’t develop the healthiest emotional responses.  Misunderstandings occur when you don’t have the full picture.

How to Stop Technoference?

The first and most obvious solution is to ask your partner for tech free time and areas. “Put the phone away,” is the best advice, or put it on silent. If they fail, don’t criticize them, just talk about the consequences (“When you answer your phone when I am telling you about my day, it interrupts the flow of our conversation and I don’t want to talk anymore.)  Then ask for what you do want and see if your partner can agree.

Deep and Active Listening is only possible if you are focused on your partner, not your device. You will hear and understand them more completely by giving undivided attention.

Making eye contact allows for an even deeper understanding of what the other person is feeling and brings the couple closer together.

Relationships become mindful when you begin to be more present in the moment to become aware of body language, unspoken messages, moods, etc.

Focus on sacred time together uninterrupted by outside influences, work or other people. It will make the relationship more conscious.

If you are feeling challenged in making these changes, think of a time when you had a successful experience with turning off your devices, maybe a time when it improved communication. Then think of a word that reminds you of that time of success, perhaps the name of a person or where you were.  When you feel challenged, use that word to remind you of your feeling of success so that you feel empowered to make a good decision in the present.

Dr. Nancy is the author of the book, about to be released, Get Reel:  Produce Your Own Life, about how our media is effecting relationships, health, family and spending, and what you can do about it. Get Reel: Produce Your Own Life

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