I just read a “one liner” that stated, “One day I’ll look up from my phone and realize my kids put me in a nursing home.” I’m thinking the same can be stated another way, “One day I’ll look up from my phone (or computer) and realize my spouse has left me (mentally and/or physically).” We’re thinking that this person needs to be present in his or her life. And we need to be present in our marriage.
That thought leads to one of our pet peeves. It seems that everywhere we go, people are either talking or texting on their phones. It’s as if people can’t be present where they are.
This is particularly problematic when we see this in public. This is where a husband and wife (and sometimes children) are out together (at a restaurant or somewhere). We often see one, or more, or all are on their electronic devices having some type of conversation with someone else. I want to yell out, “Be present with the one(s) you’re with. Do that later when you’re alone.”
The problem is:
“We are tempted to think that our little ‘sips’ of online connection add up to a big gulp of real conversation. But they don’t. E-mail, Twitter, Facebook, all of these have their places —in politics, commerce, romance and friendship. But no matter how valuable, they do not substitute for conversation. The drift from conversation to connectivity —from ‘talking to texting’ —should be a concern for any married couple and any parent.
Other technologies —particularly television —have distracted us from conversation for many years, but recent advances give us the option to replace it. How can you develop and maintain a strong relationship with your spouse or anyone else in your family if you aren’t talking to each other?” (Dave Boehi, from the Familylife.com article, “Are We Replacing Conversation With Connectivity?”)
As the Bible says, “there is a time for everything under heaven.” That includes being occupied on our digital devices, even when they invade the time we should be spending with our spouse, with focused attention.
Now, we understand that sometimes a phone call or a text comes in where you need to tend to it. If it’s an emergency or it’s from someone you’ve been trying to get a hold of for a while, you need to take advantage of the connection. But that should be more of a rarity, than the norm, if it is interrupting time you should spend with your spouse.
If we don’t make our marriage relationship a priority where we show we’re present with our spouse physically, mentally, and emotionally, some day we may find that our spouse will no longer be interested in being with US physically, mentally, emotionally or any way.
We didn’t marry one another to ignore each other. We didn’t vow to make everything and everyone else more important than our spouse. So why is it okay to be rude and ignore the person we vowed to “love, honor, and cherish?” Why should we put them off time and time again by texting and talking on the phone to anyone who contacts us?
I read something related that Steve Cooper wrote (in a “Huffington Post” article).
“The relationship of technology and marriage has a long history. Probably at some point during the Stone Age a woman was frustrated because her mate wouldn’t step away from the fire and come to bed. More recently, televisions became places of congregation for couples and families. Today, our unions are intertwined with smartphones, tablets, social networks and more. The current tech du jour is Facebook. The question we have to ask is, are these tools good for marriages or bad? The answer: potentially both.”
Now, we’re not going to go into the “good and bad” of these tools. Many of us are aware of them. But unfortunately, too many spouses allow the “bad” to invade their lives and their marriage relationships.
We can’t say this strongly enough… please BE PRESENT when you’re out and about in public places. I’ve had GREAT conversations with people in grocery store lines and public places when they weren’t gabbing or texting on the phone. It’s amazing the ministry opportunities that can be had when we’re present and attentive when we’re out in public. We miss those opportunities to allow God to minister through us in public when we’re on our digitally invasive devices.
And we’ve had GREAT conversations as husband and wife, when we’re away from our home. But if one of us is on the phone or a mobile device, that opportunity is cut off and sabotaged.
Electronic devices can become addicting if you aren’t careful. You can become an information and digital social junkie, jumping to feed your curiosity.
Winning the Battle
So, what is the best way to battle a digital addiction?
“Ask your spouse what they think of your digital use. They know your digital habits probably better then anyone else. I encourage you to take a digital fast together once a week or once a month. Fasting will reveal what you are most addicted to. Start praying today together as a couple about becoming better stewards of your digital technology. Don’t waste your real life on a virtual life.” (Dr Sylvia Hart Frejd, from the book, Digital Invasion, The: How Technology Is Shaping You and Your Relationships —a book we HIGHLY recommend you read)
PLEASE make it your mission to be with your spouse when you have both purposed to do so. Don’t let the tyranny of the urgent, and curiosity, as far as checking your mobile devices, invade and interrupt the precious time you intentionally set aside for each other.
You DO set aside “intentional time” for each other, don’t you? If not, today is a good day to start making that happen —just as it did before you married. Make sure you are present with your spouse in every way you can and in every way you should make it happen, so your relationship grows to reveal and reflect the love of Christ.
Cindy and Steve Wright