Do you feel like your spouse is always on his or her phone, computer, tablet or other gadget? In an age when technology has become a part of everyday life, and seems almost impossible to avoid, checking phone notifications has become second nature. The amount of time that you choose to spend with your technological devices and on social media has a direct effect on other areas of your life, including your marriage.
When it feels like your spouse is spending more time with his or her phone and friends on social media than with you, you might start to feel lonely and frustrated. Social media use doesn't have to come between you and your spouse — and you shouldn't let it. If feeling shut out by Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. is something that you can relate to, keep these three things in mind.
John Gottman's research has been shown to accurately predict early divorce in couples. The first horseman in Gottman's Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is criticism. Criticism is defined as judgment or expressing disapproval based on a person's actions that you perceive as faults or mistakes. Criticism can lead to defensiveness, which leads to arguments and hard feelings.
So be careful about how you approach the subject of your partner's social media use.
Avoid saying things like, "You never pay attention to me anymore! All you care about is what's going on on Facebook!" or "Which do you love more, me or social media? Because your Twitter followers seem more important than our relationship." Statements like these may cause your spouse to get defensive and can lead to hurt feelings and more conflict in your marriage.
Do have a conversation about it
Avoiding criticism doesn't mean that you should avoid all conversation about your spouse's social media use. Chances are, your spouse might not realize that his or her media use is being perceived as a problem. To you, it might seem like your spouse checks social media every second of every day. But to him, it could seem like he is simply catching up on the news or other life events for the first time that day, due to a busy work schedule, school or home life.
When you're ready to discuss your spouse's social media habits with him or her, use "I" statements. You might say something like, "I was hoping that we could put our phones away during dinner and talk tonight." or "I thought we'd planned on spending quality time together tonight so I was hurt when you spent most of the night on your phone. Can we try this again tomorrow and turn both of our phones off?" Your spouse will be more open to what you have to say, and the "I" statements will help her see things from your perspective.
Do set boundaries
Once the discussion has been started, you are both in the perfect position to set boundaries for future social media use. Boundaries protect relationships from things that have the potential to cause conflict or tear the relationship apart. Setting boundaries for media use in your marriage will ensure that you are both on the same page with your expectations. Knowing what those expectations are will prevent situations in the future that lead to heated conversations and disappointment.
When setting boundaries, think of times in the past when social media has gotten in the way of your relationship growth, interrupted quality time, or caused arguments between the two of you. You might consider the following:
All meals together will take place unplugged from technology.
Phones will be put on silent and remain out of sight during planned quality time.
No technology allowed in the bedroom after a certain hour.
During conversations, all attention will be focused on the speaker and phones must remain put away.
Like anything else in your marriage that might be problematic, excessive social media use should be addressed. If you don't say something, your spouse might never realize that it is a problem or change his or her habits. Social media doesn't have to be an obstacle in your relationship, even in such a technology-saturated world. Start the discussion with your spouse today; your marriage will thank you.
Amberly is currently pursuing a degree in Family Studies. She is passionate about inspiring couples to make their marriage a priority throughout every stage of life with traditions, communication and quality time. "Make time for the people you love!"