Technology and Relationships

So the other day I was watching TV and an old valentines commercial came on. By the end of the commercial I didn’t have the words to express how I was feeling.  The commercial started with a couple out to dinner and she picks up her cell phone and starts looking at it while he is trying to tell her he has a present for her.  The camera spins around the room and everyone else is on their phones too. The guy does the only thing he can think of and sends her a text message.  She looks up and sees the pretty little piece of jewelry that he has for her and they embrace. How wonderful.  I guess in our day and age we have to embrace technology and not run away from it, but I can’t help but wonder if we can have some disconnect from it as well? I have to ask in what way is there any connection or intimacy in that commercial, except for the hug at the end? 

Similarly, I hear countless couples tell me about a huge fight they had only to realize it has been over text message! The damage is so hurtful, that sometimes they want to walk away from the relationship.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I have embraced technology.  I am married to an IT guy, and my kids like playing on computers or IPads, but I have to find a balance.  I have to believe that we should still value face to face contact and human touch.  The question then becomes, how can we both have and use technology and still understand the importance of a romantic dinner without phones or distractions?  

Did you know that according to Dr. John Gottman’s research, intimacy can be created in a 6 second kiss? I don’t think that meant with the phone.  There is something to the power of being connected to each other and not the

When I hear about couples fighting via text, I ask “would you say that if you were face to face?” The answer is usually no, by the way.  I ask them to look at their partner and talk about how it felt getting texts like that and how do we repair when texting in the heat of the moment? Usually when texts get volatile the couple goes into a downward spiral of hurt and negativity. By the time they see each other they continue with hurtful words or decide not to talk for days. 

Here are some solutions: when sending text messages, use it as a way to communicate messages of love or connections. If there is a disagreement, wait and talk face to face.  Over text it’s easier to be impulsive and reactionary instead of hearing  your partner and creating a response.  When we talk face to face we create more compassion and empathy, and we can validate our partner.  If you can’t wait to have a face to face at least use what Dr John Gottman calls soften startup, “I feel, about what, and I need”.

Our gadgets have become a part of our everyday lives, and they aren’t going away anytime soon.  That is why it is important that we not lose sight of our partner to technology.  There is still the power of touch and human connectedness. Talk to each other, laugh together, kiss, hug and play. When we do those things with our partner we feel better, and it feels so much better to play with our spouse or partner instead of playing with our phones.

So keep these ideas in your mind. The next time you want to go out with your partner or spouse, keep your phones put away.  The next time you are arguing with your partner, keep your phones put away.  Try something different and see what happens.