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- Modern life has encouraged and normalized constant, ubiquitous smart phone possession and usage. Our phones go with us literally everywhere: to work (of course), to the bathroom, to church, to shopping, to grandmother’s house for Christmas, to bed and to the date you go on with your partner. They are always on, attentive, bedeviling and grabbing our attention. If you wait until smart phones give you permission and release you to give attention to your marriage and its needs, you might as well save yourself time, money and misery and separate now.
- Smart couples have strict arrangements about how to manage their smart phones, rather than letting habits develop the other way around. They will turn their phones off at certain times in the home, for example.
- Smart couples will strategically use their smart phones to connect with each other, such as checking in at noon and talking to each other over their phones while they have lunch together, as best they can.
- Some Smart couples have a rigid rule about leaving their smart phones in the car when they go on a date. When in the restaurant or theater or wherever they may have decided to enjoy each others company, their phones are nowhere to be found.
When making love, Smart couples do not take their smart phones to bed with them. They make sure they cannot hear or see their phones. If they decide to use music during their lovemaking sessions, they use other ways to do that than using a smart phone, even if their entire playlist is on the smart phone.
- Smart couples would never make the iconic discounting gesture, where you hold the smart phone in one hand while holding up the forefinger of the other hand to stop their spouse from intruding. This gesture is generally interpreted to mean, “Wait, dear, until I am finished with what’s going on between me and my smart phone before I pay attention to you.” I can see no other way of interpreting this than the smart phone comes first.
There is a mute button on all phones, and it can be used at any time. Most people on a call with you, if you ask them can you call them back in a few minutes, will wait. They will especially be willing to wait if you explain to them that your dearly beloved spouse comes first and right now you need to give attention to your spouse first and foremost.
- Text messages and e-mails that come in on your smart phone never have to be read immediately, especially at the expense of telling your spouse or loved one to stand down. The only caveat to this is if you’re receiving information on your phone from your spouse.
In my marriage counseling practice, I see many kinds of widows and widowers. Some are people who have been abandoned and left alone by the death of their spouse. Many others are in the same category as “golf” widows or spouses whose loved ones forsook them for other preoccupations, including a Smart phone. Those I call, “Smart Phone Widows and Widowers.”
Smart spouses use basic training techniques and procedures with each other. The human brain will establish a pattern based upon what is rewarded. It has nothing to do with whether the pattern is useful and beneficial. It’s simply a matter of what gets rewarded/reinforced or not.
Smart spouses in Smart marriages certainly can use smart phones in ways that reward healthy marital patterns that sustain a quality relationship.
Here is a little bonus encouragement about taking back control of your rest and sleep from your Smart phone: