By Keren Kanyago, Crosswalk.com
Have you noticed the new posture we all seem to have these days? Phone in hand, back hunched, head bowed, and eyes glued on our phones! Look everywhere: in the mall, schools, church, parks, restaurants, at home, etc. It's hard these days to find people engrossed in face-to-face conversations, making eye contact, and studying each other's facial expressions. Even when we dart out for coffee dates, we line up our phones on the table and constantly peer at them.
Look, there are already plenty of challenges that spouses have to muddle through in marriage - and now we have smartphones thrown into the mix! Ignoring the person you are with and instead getting engrossed with your phone has a name. It is called phubbing. One study found that phubbing increases marital dissatisfaction, leads to depression, and generates low satisfaction in life.
We get it. Smartphones are convenient, entertaining, and even addictive. They bring technology and information to our fingertips. We can't fathom life without them. Little wonder that we get nervous when our phones run out of charge. It's worse if they get damaged or lost. We feel empty and incomplete. And we can justify all the good things we are doing with our phones, can't we? Checking work emails, scribbling notes, paying bills, checking maps, taking photos, listening to podcasts, etc.
Despite the good things our phones enable us to do, it's no secret that they have grossly minimized human interaction, especially with those we love. And here's the irony, we often put off interacting with our loved ones and instead spend hours on end scrutinizing the lives of strangers or mere acquaintances. As a result, our partners feel rejected, disrespected, and unvalued. Here are seven ways in which smartphone addiction could be ruining your marriage.
1. It Injures Trust
You are lounging on the balcony with your spouse, but you seem to be all alone - they are hooked to their phone—a smile here, a chuckle there. You can't help but wonder who they are communicating with. "Are they cheating on me?" you may wonder. As a result, your trust in them starts to taper off.
Furthermore, relationship experts warn that many married people are knee-deep in emotional affairs nurtured through their smartphones. They may not necessarily be in full-fledged marital affairs, but that could be a matter of time - a ticking bomb. Don't allow your spouse to second guess your commitment to them. Don't let them compete with your phone for attention. Let your heart be where your treasure is (Mathew 6:21).
2. It Is Disrespectful
"How did your presentation go? I prayed for you." Jane said to her husband, who was sprawled out on the couch, scrolling through his phone. "It was great," David responded without looking up. Jane was gutted. "You couldn't even be bothered to say thank you?" she hollered back. He was clearly not interested in chatting with her, and she felt utterly disrespected.
Your spouse deserves crystal-clear communication. They get upset when your phone distracts you from engaging with them. They detest hearing you spew out incoherent, disjointed statements because you are fixated on your phone. They feel disrespected and hurt.
They deserve undivided attention and proper face-to-face communication. They need you to make eye contact and listen to them intently. Isn't that how you both fell in love in the first place? So the next time you are with your spouse, remember to put away your phone and give them respect.
3. It Creates a Vicious Cycle in Marriage
Let's say your spouse perpetually tries to get your attention with little success because you are always engrossed in your phone. They finally give up and leave you to your own devices - literally. But they also need something to lull the pain your rejection has caused them. Guess what they turn to? Their phone!
Consequently, your phones replace your conversations and companionship. The rift between you widens, and your marriage begins to decay. To escape from the disillusionment that your marriage is causing you, you both dig deeper and deeper into the "smartphone rabbit hole." The vicious cycle you are trapped in knows no end.
4. It Can Be a Serial Timewaster
"I will just take a peek at my Facebook feed for three minutes." you may tell yourself. Before you know it, a whopping hour has elapsed. You are now scrolling mindlessly, majorly due to the fear of missing out (FOMO) and lack of self-restraint. Meanwhile, you have postponed going on a date with your spouse because you feel pressed for time. Yet you unknowingly waste lots of time scrolling thoughtlessly on your social media platforms.
Paul urged the Corinthian church to walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:15-16). We would save ourselves from lots of turmoil if we paid heed to Paul's admonition where our use of phones is concerned. When misused, phones are serial time wasters. Couples could instead use that precious time wasted scrolling mindlessly to connect with each other, pray, pore over the Scriptures, read books, exercise, or even squeeze in some shut-eye.
5. It Breeds Resentment
Watching your spouse consistently choose their phone over you is a punch in the gut. It's as if your presence means nothing to them. The offended spouse feels disrespected, disregarded, and unheard. They figure that whatever their spouse is doing on the phone or whoever they are communicating with is more important than them. This breeds resentment and threatens the health of the marriage.
6. Smartphone Addiction Is Dangerous
Do you reach out for your phone first thing in the morning? Do you carry your phone everywhere you go (even to the restroom)? Do you lose track of time when scrolling on your phone? Do you feel incomplete when your phone is not within reach because it acts as your clutch? When going through a rough patch, do you turn to your phone for comfort? These are some signs that you could be addicted to your smartphone.
Just like various other addictions in life, smartphone addiction has ravaging effects. It leads to mental health problems like depression, anxiety, stress, and emotional instability. It also causes the person to become irritable and defensive. They may also develop a short attention span, become unproductive at work, feel fatigued and develop sleep problems. Furthermore, studies show that people addicted to their phones are more predisposed to road accidents. You don't want to haul these ravaging issues into your marriage so learn to put your phone down.
7. It Sets a Bad Example for Your Kids
Whether you realize it or not, your kids are watching you intently. They see how you prioritize your phone over relationships. Perhaps they struggle to catch your attention because you are always hunched over your phone. Apart from ruining your relationships, you are also ruining their lives.
This is because they will likely replicate the same behavior with their smartphones. It's been rightly said that kids will do what you do and not what you say. Besides, it will be hypocritical for you to try and dissuade them from phone addiction in the future if they grow up seeing you addicted to yours.
Keren Kanyago is a freelance writer and blogger at Parenting Spring. As a wife and mom, she uses her blog to weigh in on pertinent issues around parenting, marriage, and the Christian Faith. She holds a degree in mass communication with a specialty in print media. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram and/or shoot her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.