Smartphone addiction has become so common that most people laugh about their connection with their phones. “Mary, you’re on your phone too much.” “Haha, I know right?” It’s considered the norm now, to the point that addicts are not seeking help for a growing problem.
The reason why most do not get help for smartphone addiction is because they see nothing wrong with it. They’re not physically hurting their bodies like they would with drugs or alcohol, and they are not going into debt like they would with gambling.
But what about the emotional effects of smartphone addiction? Particularly in the case of married couples. Your smartphone dependency could be doing more damage than you realize.
You Can’t Truly Listen When You’re On Your Phone
We’ve all this before. We grab our phones in the middle of a conversation just to “check” something, but we still continue talking to the person in front of us. While you may be able to pick up on parts of the conversation, you cannot fully absorb what the other person is saying. That is why there is a few seconds of silence before you respond. Your brain has to turn off its attention to your phone and turn on its attention to the conversation.
Listening is important in a relationship because it allows you to understand your spouse’s perspective. If the same subject comes up in a later conversation, you will have absorbed the information and you will have a response for it. Your focus is entirely on your spouse when you’re not on the phone, so your brain is not trying to process two sets of information simultaneously.
You Care More About The Outside World Than You Do Your Relationship
At least, that’s what your spouse feels like. If you spend most of your time together constantly on your phone, you’re not interested in the here and now. You’d rather talk to friends or check posts on social media than watch a movie with your spouse or have a conversation. That can do significant damage to your spouse’s self-esteem, and it can create a wedge between you two.
Smartphones Make Intimacy Less Desirable
A recent study showed that one in three Americans would rather give up sex for three months than give up their smartphones for a week. That is an alarming number considering how desirable sex was considered a few decades ago.
Smartphones and sex release the same “happy chemicals” in our brains. Every time you get a text or social media notification, a small dose of dopamine comes out. You get a much larger dose from intimacy, but the small doses throughout the day are enough to satisfy your needs. It may get to a point where you are more focused on chasing the high from your smartphone than you are in building a strong connection with your spouse.
So, What’s The Solution?
Reducing smartphone dependency involves several components:
- Acknowledge the problem.
- Identify specific, measurable goals to reduce smartphone use in the home. (Example: I will only be on my phone for 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes at night)
- Turn phones off or on silence during family time.
- If necessary, put your phones in another room to prevent the temptation to check them.
- Do not use your smartphone during the last 30 minutes to an hour before bed. This is time you can talk to your spouse, wind down for the night, and enjoy each other’s company.
- During your days off, consider going unplugged. Turn off your phones for the entire day and focus on your marriage and your family.
- Work with a marriage counselor to improve your communication skills, learn effective conflict resolution strategies, and create a stronger bond in your relationship.
Contact Perspectives Counseling Centers in Troy, MI and surrounding areas of Metro Detroit to schedule an appointment with a marriage counselor near you.