Could you turn off the phone to save your relationship?
Couples who lead happier, sexier relationships don't text. They don't gamble online, they don't pick fantasy football teams. They don't spend a lot of social network time on their hand held devices. They take the time instead to increase their physical and emotional connection with their actual real time partner. Not surprisingly, these same couples have more sex, and better sex than most couples. And they work through their conflicts by talking openly about their feelings, and communicating honestly.
Couples who text less often have more direct, real, honest connection. Too much texting can disconnect you from your partner and make real time confrontation and communication more diffcult. For couples where infidelity is a potential or current problem, watch for signs that texts increase or are used to moderate your day-to-day life. Texting can be fertile ground for dishonesty. It is easier to lie to your partner through a text; to hide what you are really thinking and feeling in a text message.
A cheater can more easily deceive their partner when they send a text. A deceived partner can't read body language, or see into their partners eyes when they get a text message, an Instant message or an email. Although the risk of misreading something said this way is great, it is even more likely that texting and emailing can be used to perpetuate dishonesty in a relationship. Lying to someone's face is much harder, for most of us, than sending a quick text; "Late sry c u soon."
Technology's impact on our personal relationships is not all negative. We can stay perpetually connected through real time Facetime, IM'ing and Snapchat and Instagram. Even the names imply there is no waiting when you really want to see your partner's face. But being in a relationship in this complicated digital age gets more and more complicated every day.
Some couples that I see in my therapy office take a technology break. Joe and Mark, together for ten years and self-proclaimed technology addicts, commit to once a month turning off their phones or leaving them at home for a day. They report in my session with them that all day long they check their pockets, patting themselves down, convinced they hear a ringer. Continuously checking throughout the day, they eventually calm down and begin to refocus their attention. "By the end of the day," Joe says, "This is usually the best thing that could have happened to us. It's like a wake up call."
For many a time out from technology is an honest way to wake up a distant relationship, a new way to be remember what's important in a marriage and a great way to stimulate important communication. After the session, Joe and Mark leave my office. They reach out to one another as they walk down the hall. For the first time in a long time, they have both hands free.
Dr. Tammy Nelson is a licensed sex therapist and relationship expert and the author of "Getting the Sex You Want" and "The New Monogamy" and while she is not working toward global relational change, she can be found at: www.drtammynelson.com
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