The last week of April (April 29 – May 5 this year) is being celebrated nationally as screen-free week I which people are encourages to turn off the TV and other screens at home. This is being sponsored as a healthy choice for parents to make for their children, but the truth is going screen free for even one week may be the healthiest choice you can make for your relationship and your sex life.
Some of the most common cases I see in my couple’s therapy practice are couples coming in who have a stable agreeable relationship but for whom sex has faded into the deep background. They talk about how sex has become boring or routine, or that sex happens so rarely now it has become awkward. They often can remember the last time they did something new together, sexually or otherwise, and may feel that their relationship and themselves as individuals have lost their juiciness. One of the questions I always want to explore with these couples is, “What are you doing with your free time (however minimal) besides having sex or connecting with each other?” And what I usually hear in response involves watching hours of TV or logging in to Facebook or playing video games or online shopping…you get the idea, it has to do with sitting in front of a screen.
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Screens are one of the biggest distractions we have and they are nearly always available. The truth is at the end of a tiring day, it is a lot easier to sit down and veg out in front of the TV or Pinterest. It is sometimes easier to check posts on Facebook than to have a real conversation with someone live and in person. And it is easier to find some porn where you can fast forward to the parts you know you like than to negotiate a sexual experience with another person. But what is easier in the moment, does not necessarily make us happier. The craving for genuine connection is still there and there is nothing lonelier than feeling isolated while in a room with people you love.
Going screen-free for one week can allow you to refocus on your partner and the kinds of interactions you want to have. Not being able to fall back into the comfortable patterns that fill our time requires us to be more creative. Taking away the distractions of screens asks us to get to know each other again by filling the time with conversation, doing things together, and maybe leisurely, not rushed sexual play. Think about this, when you were first dating you probably didn’t connect by staring at screens together. When you got to spend time together you probably wanted to focus on each other. Going screen-free teaches us how to do that again.