Today, electronic gadgets that previous generations never dreamed of are an integral part of everyday life.
Over the past decade, the technological advances have come so quickly that most of us can’t keep up.
Many of these tools are aimed at making communication easier – such as smartphones, video calls and messaging – and provide the ability to connect with anyone, at any time, in any place.
It’s quite ironic then that electronic communication, something that is intended to promote communication between people, is causing so much conflict in marriages.
Few people would argue that interrupting a conversation with your partner to check a text message isn’t annoying, but for many couples, electronics have become a major barrier that damages relationships.
A study by researchers at Brigham Young University found that “technoference” – those everyday interruptions and intrusions due to electronic devices – not only damages relationships, but can have a significant effect on your partner’s psychological health too. By surveying 143 women that were either married or cohabiting, the study revealed that high levels of technoference were associated with lower relationship satisfaction, lower life satisfaction and depression.
Tips to set limits on technology
Having access to the latest technology isn’t bad, and using technology doesn’t have to be harmful to your partner or cause marital conflict. The way to strike a balance is by monitoring usage and agreeing on limits with your spouse. Here’s how.
- Evaluate the scope of the problem. Does technoference cause daily conflict at home? Does it keep you from spending quality time together? Talk about how screen time affects your relationship. You might be surprised that you each have a different view on the subject!
- Agree on what’s necessary. Because technology is often an essential part of our lives, discuss what usage is necessary (such as a firefighter on call or an employee who works at home). Acknowledge the demands associated with these responsibilities.
- Agree on what’s OK and what’s not. Discuss how you can balance everyday work and family obligations that require screen time while reducing intrusions into your relationship. Set limits on electronics usage by agreeing on a reasonable amount of time to use electronics a day.
- Create technology-free zones. Another way to set limits is by designating certain areas (like the bedroom and kitchen) and times (after 9:00 PM or while on a date) where electronics are not allowed. In this way, you can spend quality time together each day without the threat of interference.