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HELP FOR THE FAMILY | MARRIAGE

How to Keep Technology in Its Place

The use of technology can either benefit your marriage or undermine it. How is it affecting your marriage?

 What you should know

  • The wise use of technology can benefit a marriage. For example, some husbands and wives use it to keep in touch with each other during the day while they are apart.

    “A simple text message that says ‘I love you’ or ‘I’m thinking about you’ can mean a lot.”—Jonathan.

  • The unwise use of technology can undermine a marriage. For example, some people use their devices constantly, which diminishes the time and attention they can give to their spouse.

    “I’m sure that there have been times when my husband would have felt more inclined to talk to me if I hadn’t been using my phone.”—Julissa.

  • Some people say they can have meaningful discussions with their spouse and use their device at the same time. According to sociologist Sherry Turkle, that is “the myth of multitasking.” Evidently, the so-called ability to multitask is not exactly a virtue. She says that in reality, “our performance degrades for each new task we add to the mix.” *

    “Having a conversation with my husband is rewarding, but not when he’s multitasking. Multitasking sends the message that he would be just as happy to be with his device only.”—Sarah.

The bottom line: The way you use technology can help or can hurt your marriage.

 What you can do

Establish priorities. The Bible says: “Make sure of the more important things.” (Philippians 1:10) Ask yourself, ‘Does the time and attention that my spouse and I give to our devices rob us of the time and attention that we should give to each other?’

“It’s sad to see a man and a woman using their phones while dining at a restaurant—two people stuck to their devices. We don’t want to be enslaved to technology and forget what is most important—our relationship with each other.”—Matthew.

Set limits. The Bible says: “Keep strict watch that how you walk is not as unwise but as wise persons, making the best use of your time.” (Ephesians 5:15, 16) Ask yourself, ‘Could I set aside a specific time to read and respond to nonemergency messages instead of impulsively handling all messages as they arrive?’

“I’ve found it helpful to put my phone on silent mode and then respond to messages at a more convenient time. It’s rare that an incoming call, a text message, or an e-mail is a dire emergency that needs an immediate response.”—Jonathan.

If possible, leave work at work. The Bible says: “There is an appointed time for everything.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1) Ask yourself these questions: ‘Is my job invading the privacy of my home by means of my smartphone? If so, how is this affecting my marriage? What would my spouse say?’

“Because of technology, we have the ability to work at any and all times. I have had to make a special effort to avoid constantly checking my phone and handling work-related issues when my wife and I are together.”—Matthew.

Discuss the use of technology with your spouse. The Bible says: “Let each one keep seeking, not his own advantage, but that of the other person.” (1 Corinthians 10:24) Talk to your spouse about how each of you uses technology and what changes, if any, should be made. You can use the discussion guide in this article to get started.

“My husband and I are very honest with each other, and we speak up if we feel that the other one is using the phone or tablet too much. We both recognize that this can be a problem, so we give careful consideration to each other’s viewpoint.”—Danielle.

The bottom line: Make sure that technology is your servant, not your master.

^ par. 13 From the book Reclaiming Conversation—The Power of Talk in a Digital Age.