Spending time with your spouse was much easier before the invention of one of the most time consuming, addictive smart gadgets ever to be conceived...your smartphone.   Oh, how technology makes our life so much easier and relationships so darn difficult.  

Smartphones' effect on relationships

It's not complicated.  Look up.  Look around.  Everyone, everywhere is on their smartphones, even your spouse.  It's frightening to think about our lives interwoven with so much technology, but it's happening.  And you and your family are part of this growing trend.  It's bad for your marriage and other relationships (and no, Netflix®, Instagram® and Spotify® do not qualify as "other relationships").  Be warned.

Is it a problem?

Yes, for most of us.   But, maybe you don't have a problem.  Here is how you'll know.  If you answer yes to 3 or more of the 5 questions, you likely have a smartphone problem.

  1. Think 10 years back.  Is there any item you use on a daily basis, that you didn't use then, as much as your smartphone?  Home phone?  Television?  Bike? (Prescription medicine doesn't count.)
  2. Can you lock your smartphone in a drawer for a week?  How about a few days?  A day?
  3. Do most of your children own a smartphone?
  4. Do you talk with your spouse or children as much as you check your smartphone?
  5. Do you check your smartphone: (4 or more qualifies this answer as a yes)
  • when you wake up?
  • before you leave for work?
  • to check the time or set an alarm?
  • at a stoplight, on the train, on a bus?
  • before you go into work or at work?
  • before, at or after lunch?
  • in a meeting?
  • before you go home?
  • before, at or after dinner?
  • when you are working out?
  • when you are at a bar?
  • when you are with others dining out?
  • when you are about to go to bed? 

We need our phones and THEY need us

Okay.  You get the idea of what's happening. Our society is growing dependent on smartphones.

But, we all have a very good explanation: our children may need to reach us, our clients may need to e-mail, our boss text, spouse call, colleagues, neighbors, doctors, foreign diplomats or Amazon® all need us to keep that phone on our person.  They NEED US! 

They must have access to our every moment, our steps need monitoring, heart rate measured, messages delivered.  We need apps to help us budget, schedule and manage our contacts and social media accounts.  We need our high resolution cameras to take prize winning photos, mostly of ourselves (which isn't weird at all btw, which means it's totally WEIRD)!  Most of our photos remain, suspended in our mega clouds and forgotten about for years and years and years. 

We need our games, music and documents.  We can even pay with our phones.  These phones are like our digital brains.  Don't leave home without them! 

We need these phones so we can update 1,000 people on social media that we hardly ever see in person anymore.  Worse yet, is that these 1,000 people need their phones too!  They MUST see where you are, what you think, how you look and what you share.  Your phone needs a selfie-stick for the most amazing professional selfies (which only makes sense in a narcissistic universe aka our new "smartbrain"). 

Do we have a problem?  Yes. 

The problem isn't...

The problem isn't that each person is so dependent on something that is absolutely becoming a major force in our lives.  According to Pew Research Center (Internet and Technology Fact Sheet June 12, 2019) 96% of Americans own a cell phone.  In an article by Statista Research Department in 2016, the number of mobile phone users was approximately 4.3 billion and was forecasted to reach 4.68 billion by 2019.

The problem is...

The problem is that you and I are clearly not the only ones distracted and dependent.  When we take a minute to look up from our phones, everyone else is distracted too.  Do you know how hard it would be for drug addicts to keep other drug addicts from using drugs?  This dependency is no different. 

We're just a bunch of smartphone dependents.  I won't tell if you won't. 

But...I can't help myself. I call it like I see it.  Though I dare say, I'm 'a callin' but my smartphone ain't answering.   My fingerprint recognition is suddenly not working.  I think this is a a smartphone's way of saying, "No comment."  Clever.

How these techno marvels interfere with our lives

We are available to our clients and colleagues 24 hours a day and they know it.  We can't just say we were away from our phone.  If we ignore their text because we are at dinner with our spouse, they feel unimportant.  If we check our texts at dinner with our spouse, our spouse feels unimportant.  And they call these smartphones?

Yes, these phones give us access to blogs, social media accounts, friends, e-mails and texts that rival actual time spent with friends and family.  We can watch our favorite shows, read a book, listen to music all while sitting with 20 other people doing the same thing.  It damages our communication skills and affects our personal and professional relationships. 

On our resumes we will no longer list great communication and interpersonal skills.  We will just list, "super fast texter lol".

Marriage v. Smartphone

It definitely affects our marriage, our relationship and intimacy with our spouse.   Dare I say, as much as the television in the bedroom?

Truth be known, we all know our smart devices aren't good for our marital communication, household budget or attention spent on our marriage (three top reasons for divorce in the United States), but we simply can't live without them.  Many of us would sooner contemplate divorce before we dump our smartphone. 

Pretty soon, just to start a conversation with your spouse you'll be muttering, "ah, you, duh, go, me, to dinner?" 

And your wife will look at you confused not sure how to answer, then in a split second she will text you, "TMI, GR8 2nte? Sure AEAP" and you will unfortunately understand.

How to stop the madness

Look.  We aren't going to be able to change how technology has interfaced with our society.  But, we can choose how it affects us, our marriage and our family.  Yes, it would seem backward in some way to not own or use a smartphone.  However, we can set rules and communicate with each other as to how to disallow the smartphone from disrupting our life and marriage.  

While you may not agree with everything on the list.  Use it to start a conversation with friends and family.  Together, create your own smartphone rules to improve your "in person" relationships!  Remember you may not be smarter than your smartphone, but it can't control you!  Or can it?  We'll let you decide.  Good luck!

Basic etiquette for smartphone use

Do not take or make calls  (it can wait!)

  • at meals
  • when conversing with someone
  • in bed with spouse/significant other
  • in a meeting
  • on an appointment or presentation
  • at the register
  • in any public place (bar, restaurant, gym)
  • while driving
  • at the theatre or public performances
  • on a date (even after being married for 20 years)
  • in the car with colleagues or clients

Do not search, watch, text or play on your phone:

  • at meals
  • in bed with spouse/significant other
  • when someone else is talking
  • on a date (even after being married for 30 years)
  • in a meeting
  • on an appointment or presentation

Don't do this, ever

  • text while driving
  • have a super loud, annoying ring or alarm
  • talk on the phone while shopping or in a public place
  • wear multiple phones
  • insist on showing someone something on your phone they don't really care about
  • take selfies in public (okay occasionally)  



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