Today, technology and communication seem to go hand in hand, which can be a double-edged sword. The same cell phones and gadgets that keep us connected to far-away family and friends are conversely the very things that strain our personal associations. When staying connected has you feeling disconnected, it is important to seek a balance to protect your relationship from becoming a casualty of technology.
Statistically, it is becoming more difficult for people to have personal, meaningful connections because of high-tech advancements and our dependence on them. According to Pew Research Center, 96 percent of Americans now own a cell phone. Additionally, almost 75 percent of adults in the U.S. have computers in their homes.
Couples often seek guidance to navigate the rough waters of drifting apart as a consequence of technological distractions. At Laurie Grengs Counseling, we want to help. Here, we look at how technology can affect relationships and offer tips to help you and your partner stay the course in this electronic age.
Technology has made it easier to stay in touch, but electronic preoccupation is a real and growing issue. These types of distractions remove people from in-the-moment interactions with loved ones, and even the smallest clashes can lead to feelings of unhappiness.
Whether you or your partner spend five minutes here or ten minutes there on a gadget or with a game, that time adds up and quickly slips away. Before you are aware, you have lost a good portion of your day or week. Those cumulative minutes mean less opportunity for you to focus on building and maintaining your relationship.
INTERFERENCE AND INSECURITY
Couples have reported many instances of technology-related conflict, most of which include interference during leisure time, meals, or face-to-face conversations. When emails and text messages take priority over vacations, family dinners, or focused interactions, a person needs to take an honest look at his or her priorities.
Social media also is a noteworthy culprit, as it frequently paints an unrealistic expectation of success. Exposure to a constant barrage of the best and most exciting pictures, experiences, and stories from friends or followers easily can trigger feelings of jealousy and depression, or the fear that you are missing out on the fun being had by others.
Technology has put these measures of self-worth literally at our fingertips. This can adversely affect your health, your outlook, and your deep connections to loved ones.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
The way in which you communicate need not rely on technology. This way of thinking can be difficult to absorb, since cell phones and gadgets have become an extension of who are. Do not be afraid to let electronics and social media take a back seat to your definitive voice and your physical emotions.
Keep yourself present in the moment. Have a discussion with your partner to set hard and simple rules so technology use does not overwhelm your lives. Use timer apps to limit the minutes you allow yourself to spend on social media or participating in online gaming. Create tech-free areas in your home, including the dinner table and the bedroom.
Break the habit of comparing your life to those on social media. No matter what you see, no one is perfect. Trying to measure up against someone else’s seemingly flawless existence is an exercise in futility. Remind yourself daily of the things for which you are grateful. Studies have shown that doing so helps lead to greater feelings of happiness.
Consider stepping away from technology for a time with a self-imposed gadget-free day or weekend. Free your mind from the stressors associated with electronics and instead focus on your relationships and inherent happiness. Learn to re-center yourself and enjoy life without distraction.
ADVICE IS JUST A CALL AWAY
Whether it is a handheld device, a desktop or laptop computer, or even the television, electronic interference is everywhere. Technology can create tension but also brings people closer, so how do you know when and where to draw the line? If you and your partner feel overwhelmed by the advances in technology and its effect on your union, contact Laurie Grengs Counseling today.