Heartbreak

Divorce Attorney Warns Couples That Phubbing Is Legit Grounds For Divorce

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Couplefully engaged in their phones instead of each other

Phubbing is a word coined some time ago by combining the words "phone" and "snubbing". As it relates to marriage and other romantic relationships, it is the practice of ignoring one's spouse or romantic partner to pay attention to one's phone or other mobile device.

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Phubbing leads to marital dissatisfaction ... and potentially divorce 

A few signs your partner's phone is habitually phubbing 

  • Does your spouse check their phone every time it rings, even at the dinner table?
  • Are they constantly looking at their phone while you are having a conversation with them?
  • Do they take their phone with them everywhere they go, including the bathroom (no pun intended)?
  • Are they half-heartedly listening to you while they are texting someone else?
  • Do they bring their phone to bed and use it while lying next to you?
  • Does your partner start to use their phone when there is an awkward silence or lull in the conversation or as a means of avoiding an uncomfortable conversation?

Well, guess what? If you answered yes to any of these questions you are being "Phubbed." And it has caused many people to say "What the Phubb" or more to the point "How the Phubb do I stop this"?

   

   

This phenomenon is the direct result of modern technology, social media sites, programs, games, and apps which have taken over our lives through oversaturation and addictive algorithms designed to keep us glued to the screen of our phones. Some recent statistics bear this out:

Said differently, we are all constantly being enticed, solicited, and encouraged to ignore people physically present around us, including our friends, lovers, spouses, and intimate partners, in favor of interacting with our virtual "friends", "contacts" "influencers" and "celebrities", with their photo-shopped appearances and curated lives.

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What's the harm to the "phubber" and the "phubbee"?

Studies by researchers, social scientists, and even divorce professionals have concluded that phubbing is adding a great deal of stress to our individual lives and is negatively impacting our marital and romantic relationships. One study found that phubbing decreases marital satisfaction.

Conflicts over phone use were the driving force of this decline in marital satisfaction. One woman who was constantly phubbed by her husband likened it to getting slapped in the face. Another wife said it more directly: “When your marriage fails because somebody didn’t want to come in second place to a [phone] screen, don’t cry about it.”

Similar studies found that spouses who phubb each other experience higher rates of depression, resentment, and isolation. While phubbing, in and of itself, may not directly lead to divorce it certainly can become the tipping point that pushes the relationship over the cliff.

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Just to put it in context, a recent study found that the urge to check social media is stronger than the urge for physical intimacy.

How to stop phubbing, before it becomes grounds for divorce

The question then becomes how do we stop this deleterious, destructive, addictive behavior? It starts with having an open and honest discussion with your spouse or significant other about the effects of their phubbing - i.e. what it is doing to him, her, and your relationship. But don't stop there.

Get clever, not mean

One woman took the clever next step to highlight and stop her husband's behavior. The fed-up wife created a reusable adhesive sticker called the “Phone Phlag,” which she slaps on his phone anytime he becomes spellbound by his cell — a strategy that has proved helpful in curtailing this activity and adding levity to an otherwise serious problem. She even turned this into a business opportunity by selling phone phlags on Etsy.

couple cuddle in hatchback of car while camping

Photo Vadym Hunko vis Shutterstock

Create no phone zones

Make your dinner table, bedroom, and car no-phone zones, and put the phones and tablets away when you are there. Also, you can create No Phone Times like evenings out, date nights, vacation days, etc. You can even do this by simply turning off your phone or using the phone feature "turn on downtime until tomorrow."

No matter how attached you are to your phone, remember the words of the spouse who said: “Are you going to be laying on your deathbed, wishing that you had more time with your phone?" I don't think so!

Warning: If you are reading this while your spouse is in the room or talking to you, put the phone down and step away from the table! 

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Ronald Bavero is a divorce attorney, legal educator, and author of the critically acclaimed, five-star book, “An Elephant Doesn’t Marry A Giraffe – Everything I Learned As A Divorce Attorney.” He also maintains a website of information and valuable articles about the process of divorce and separation.