Go out for dinner these days and you can count the number of couples out on a date who at multiple points are checking their phones simultaneously at the table. Often, you can even catch entire families checking their texts, their friends’ updates and overall communicating more with the outside world than the people sitting at their table. This is not surprising considering that in a report by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers on internet trends, people apparently check their phones 150 times a day.
In general, our ability to connect with all the people in our lives at an instant is an amazing feat of technology and makes us feel closer in many ways. However, in other ways, it can be a detriment to the people and relationships we interact with on a daily basis, especially those who we are supposed to be the closest to, namely our spouse.
Over the years of working with couples, we have seen our share of the damage that social media can cause within a relationship. It is not often the primary cause of the difficulties, however it can easily exacerbate the issues that were already present between the couple. Commenting on a post, and answering a text or an IM in the middle of a conversation with your spouse often can communicate the message that the person you are responding to is more important in that moment, no matter if it is business or personal.
Due to the fact that e-communication can lower inhibitions, cyber relationships can intensify very quickly, which would jeopardize any marriage, no matter how strong it is. Bob Rosenwein of Lehigh University has been quoted in an NPR article entitled, “Can Social Media Break Up a Marriage” by Jennifer Ludden, stating that people communicating online “often fall for each other in about a week, which is two to three times as fast as those courting face-to-face”. In this fast paced world where many obligations demand our time, couples struggle as it is to find time and energy for their relationship. The ease and accessibility of social media and the allure of noncommittal interactions can be too much temptation for anyone to pass up.
What are 5 things couples can do to prevent Social Media from ruining their marriage?
- 80/20 rule: Social media should always occupy time and energy that is leftover from our primary relationship. Thus, couples need to make sure that they are engaging in social media only after they have dedicated the majority of their downtime to their spouse. Make sure that 80% of your time and energy is allocated to your primary relationship, and 20% of it should then be going to other outlets, social media being one of them.
- Don’t put your spouse on hold: Everyone knows how annoying it is to be put on hold when you call someone. Keep this is mind when you are having a conversation and you have an urge to check your smartphone.
- Use the vibrator: No, it’s not what you are thinking! Turn the vibrate function on when you are out with your spouse. You will be notified when you get a message and can check it when your spouse goes to the restroom, but the annoying ringtone won’t spoil the mood when it goes off.
- Be transparent: When it comes to social media, if your post is something you would be apprehensive about showing your spouse, then you shouldn’t be doing it.
- Accept your spouse’s friend request: This goes along with being transparent, however also conveys a message to the world that your social media world isn’t hidden from your spouse
Dr. Ray & Rev. Jean Kadkhodaian, having founded The Lighthouse Emotional Wellness Center in Arlington Heights, IL, developed a program called Couples Synergy helping couples create the relationship they’ve always dreamed of with the partner they fell in love with. They’ve been married for 16 years and have two sons, and have been working with couples and families in their practice for over 10 years. You can learn more about them by visiting www.LighthouseEmotionalWellness.com