It’s getting more and more difficult for us to go into restaurants lately. The reason? It has to do with something that has become a real pet peeve with us. It makes us a little sick to our stomach to see that this is being entertained more and more every day.
Here it is. Too many people are spending too much personal time on their phones. This is no exaggeration; everywhere you look, couples, and families are not present with each other. They’re paying more attention to their phones than they are to each other. Please don’t tune us out here. Very few people want to acknowledge it (probably because it can be convicting). The next time you’re in a restaurant or any public place look around. See if what we’re saying here is exaggerated or untrue.
Pet Peeve Leading to a World of True Disconnection
We did! We stopped in at an eating place the other day and I/we looked around and were so disturbed. Husbands and wives, children and sometimes entire families were sitting at tables together and yet they were on their phones “talking” through text to others, ignoring their family members. I wanted to yell out, “Be present with the one(s) you’re with! Do that later when you’re alone.” (I’m sure Steve was a bit worried that I would do that. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve done something like this—especially when I see people littering. That’s another pet peeve!)
But I regress. Here’s a related “one liner” that could happen concerning digital invasions. “One day I’ll look up from my phone and realize my kids put me in a nursing home.” We’re 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).” Ouch! Hope this isn’t true for you. We’ve been making it a point to make sure this isn’t true for us. (Just like anyone else, we can slide into giving into this digital temptation too.)
Here’s the Problem:
“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)
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, rather than the norm. We hope you understand that.
Priorities Beyond This Pet Peeve
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?
We read something related that Steve Cooper wrote (in a “Huffington Post” article). He wrote:
“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.
Pet Peeve Turned into a Marriage Tip
You can probably imagine the marriage tip we want to give to you. Please don’t tune out; this is so, so important. Here is the marriage tip:
BE PRESENT! We can’t say this strongly enough… please BE PRESENT when you’re out and about in public places. We’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 Against This Destructive Pet Peeve
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: 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. Give each other grace to check phones here and there. But don’t allow it to eat up your time together—especially your intentional time.
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.
In closing, concerning this pet peeve that leads to emotional disconnection:
Here is a prayer we have hanging in a picture in our home. It is the prayer of our heart and relates to this issue in every way. We need to keep growing our love in such a way that nothing divides us, including digital invasion. We hope you will embrace the following as a prayer in your heart and apply it in your marriage relationship:
Lord, help us to remember when we first met and the strong love that grew between us. Help us to love in practical ways so that nothing can divide us. May our words be kind and our thoughts be gracious. May we remain humble enough to ask for forgiveness and wise enough to forgive.
Lord, help us!
Cindy and Steve Wright
— ADDITIONALLY —
To help you further, we give a lot of personal stories, humor, and more practical tips in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS to Grow Your Marriage. We hope you will pick up a copy for yourself. (It’s available both electronically and in print form.) Plus, it can make a great gift for someone else. It gives you the opportunity to help them grow their marriage. And who doesn’t need that? Just click on the linked title or the picture below:
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