How can you reduce the negative effects of technology on your relationship? And how can you move on and rebuild after you’ve cheated on your partner? Jess and Brandon share their thoughts in response to listener questions.
Oftentimes when we ask something of our partner, we need to begin with ourselves. Before you try to convince your partner to put down their phone, ask yourself if you need to do the same. Even if you allow it to interfere to a lesser degree, every time you’re on yours, they’re likely to pick up their own.
And when it comes to cheating: you can move on and have a happy relationship after an affair. Begin by taking responsibility, getting help, tracking your progress, and making space for negative feelings and interactions.
Please see some rough notes below…
How do I get my wife to put down her phone?
Great question! Oftentimes when we ask something of our partner, we need to begin with ourselves. I was working with a group of couples the other day and one group was complaining that their partners were always on their phones checking emails and working. They were really chastising them and the message was, “oh we’d have more sex if you didn’t work so much and you’d put down your phones”. This was directed specifically at entrepreneurs, because this was an entrepreneur group who brought their partners to my session. But then the entrepreneur group turned around and reminded their partners that they too are almost always on their phones — they’re scrolling through feeds, updating social media, reading articles — they may not be working in the paid sense, but they’re still allowing technoference to interfere in their connection.
So before you try to convince your wife to put down her phone, ask yourself if you need to do the same. Even if you allow it to interfere to a lesser degree, every time you’re on yours, she is likely to pick up her own.
Technoference is becoming the norm in relationship. Research shows that the mere presence of a phone detracts from concentration, presence, connection and trust. In one study, they compared interactions in three scenarios: phone on the table, phone in your pocket and phone outside of the room. The third scenario was associated with the highest levels of trust, empathy and intimacy.
And it’s not just about distraction. Blue light can interfere with sleep, which adversely affects relationships. The light emitted by phones, laptops and and tablet devices (even when set to silent mode) is “short-wavelength-enriched”, which means that it contains high levels of blue light which interferes with the sleep-supporter hormone, melatonin. When we don’t get a good night’s sleep, we’re more likely to engage in conflict with our partner, less adept at resolving these conflicts, more likely to made poor food choices and less inclined toward sex.
Minimizing technoference can be easier and more successful if you choose specific strategies and roll them out one at a time as opposed to trying to overhaul your entire lifestyle or trying to change everything at once.
I’m going to share some of the strategies that work for my clients, but you don’t have to do them all. I suggest you try one at a time.
1. Have a phone-free dinner. In the past, we didn’t have to go out of our way to take a tech-break, but leaving the phones at home (or in the car if you’re dining at home) is a simple way to ensure that you’re present and connected to your partner — instead of being connected to your 300 “best friends”.
2. Go for a walk, bike ride or drive without using your map app. Technology is grand and can help you to see more relevant places in a shorter period of time, but it can also detract from discovery and the excitement of the unknown. Once in awhile, whether you’re on vacation exploring a new city or simply wandering the streets of your own neighbourhood, opt to leave the map at home (or just keep the app closed) so you can discover new streets, cafes,