Spouses have been ignoring each other for centuries. Since the very beginning, there has been something available to put a wedge between husbands and wives. These days, we blame it primarily on technological entertainment, but I am sure there was something before television, video games, and iPhones. Maybe in the 1940s it was the radio or evening paper? Before that, perhaps out cruisin’ in their Model T Fords?
We all have within us a human instinct to care for ourselves. Even the most selfless people, if they were honest, would admit that they sometimes struggle with contentment. At our foundation, we want to be comfortable – fed, clothed, warm, and sheltered from the elements. Once those needs are met, we seek fulfillment, amusement, and entertainment.
There is nothing wrong with having fun if it is prioritized correctly; yet, the majority of people place something – work, hobbies, me-time – higher on their priority list than it should be.
But It Is So Easy To Get Sucked In!
Eric and I have a running joke about his iPad. (Come to think of it, it is not always a joke.) Sometimes, I just hate it. ~smile~ At times, I have visualized new and special ways of destroying it ~cue evil laugh~. Since he got it a few years ago, he has come to enjoy certain games; and, before he dialed it back, he was spending way too much time (in my estimation) on his iPad and not enough time with me.
The other night, he was playing one of his games while we watched TV together. Then, he stopped and attempted to cuddle with me, but alas, I was playing a game on my phone and could not give him my undivided attention. We can complain about our partners’ technological usage, but our issues sneak up on us too!
While I cook and clean, I have TV shows playing on my cell phone. While I am winding down in the evenings and before bed, I enjoy Candy Crush Saga and Candy Mania. When I discover I have forgotten my cell phone, I feel terror grip me (or, perhaps mild discomfort). Many of us, in one way or another, are addicted to technology.
Recently, I was amusing a friend of mine with tales of my disdain for Eric’s iPad (much like Eric’s disdain for my phone and TV), and she mentioned that she struggles with her husband’s phone usage. Even at night, when they are vegging in front of the TV together, the presence of his phone between them feels like a barrier. It may sound silly, but I can certainly relate! Even when Eric’s game is so mindless that he can have a full conversation with me, I still feel somewhat ignored because he cannot take his eyes off of his device. Similarly, when he comes into the kitchen to talk to me about something, he pauses whatever show I have on because he does not want to compete for my attention (or volume level from the phone).
These little infractions, over time, begin to take a toll on relationships. Even if we consumed the same amount of screen time, but we prioritized our significant others over it, our relationships would improve. I know this for a fact, because when Eric makes a conscious effort to spend time with me, I am far less concerned about his iPad time. I do not want to deny him his hobby. I just want to feel like I am more important to him than his devices. He wants the same from me, I am sure. Just as I have complained about his iPad, he has complained about my TV watching.
Turn it Off!
Even if just for a few hours a week, plan some time together that is completely screen-free. Maybe you and your love can enjoy a walk through the park? You could have a phone-free dinner at a nice restaurant. Pull out some board games or a puzzle and talk while you focus on the same task. Read a book together. Work on a goal!
One of the greatest ways we can bless our loved ones is to shut off our devices, look into their eyes, and engage in meaningful conversation. There is something extra special about listening with your face and not just your ears. When Eric is watching a screen during one of our conversations, I only feel half-heard – even if he can quote everything I said back to me. If Eric senses I am not focused on him, he will pause conversations until I turn my face away from the screen and turn my chair towards him.
We all want to be important to our significant others. After all, we have chosen this person. Even dating couples have chosen each other, at least for the time being. We are not a priority for everyone, but we want to be a priority to someone. It hurts when the main person we expect to appreciate us brushes us aside.
We can do our relationships a huge favor by simplifying and going off the grid a bit more. We should rekindle the art of conversation and building community with others. As usual, I am preaching to the choir. Few of us have fully escaped the technology trap.
If you do not think your sweetheart has a problem with your current amount of screen time, why not ask him or her? Maybe everything is fine! However, be watchful and wise and make sure it does not become a hindrance in the future. Sometimes behaviors that do not bother us in the beginning become a big deal later.
If you and your sweetheart have found creative ways to overcome the technology trap, we would love to hear from you! Perhaps we can benefit from your experience and share it with others!
Are you comfortable with the amount of screen time present in your relationship?