July 15, 2024

By Heidi Comes

Experts agree that communication in relationships, especially marriages, is one key to their success. Open lines of communication, providing feedback and active listening are all necessary to keep a couple on the road to a healthy marriage. 

Seems simple enough, but many couples often let one little thing get in the way of that healthy communication: their smartphone. 

Just like in all areas of life, technology has come slamming into the boundaries of marriage and presented all sorts of challenges for couples, especially in the realm of communication. A device such as a smartphone, meant to facilitate communication and bring connectivity to those far from us, has managed to create walls within our homes. By picking up our phones and scrolling through social media or checking our fantasy football line-up one more time, it has become too easy to distract and distance ourselves from those we love the most. 

The enemy has intentionally disguised the trap by convincing us that we are connecting with people in our lives when we look at their photos on Facebook. What we don’t see is that we are isolating ourselves from those right in front of us, especially our spouses.

Captivated by a smartphone

There is something so powerful about being desired. As a married person, it is thrilling to know that someone is waiting for you, is choosing you and is captivated by you. This is the spark that keeps a seasoned marriage from growing cold. It isn’t about the grand gestures, exotic trips or lavish gifts. It’s those moments when we feel chosen and thought about—when the one we love sees us and we know it.

Sadly, our devices are stealing away those moments. Our attention is captivated by something impersonal. It’s tough to make eye contact with our spouse across a room when we are staring at a screen. Instead of looking for those opportunities, too often we take the spare minute we find ourselves with to do a quick check on our phone to see if anyone has shared anything new or if that email we were expecting came through. 

Two people sitting in the same room just feet away from each other can be lost in their own world with people and events happening miles away. It creates a whole new challenge for couples to find themselves captivated by their spouse instead of their device. 

It is easy to convince ourselves that we deserve the downtime. Family life, marriage and careers are physically and emotionally demanding. Everyone needs time to unwind and relax. 

By our human nature, we need times of decompression. We need space to settle our hearts and minds before jumping into the next big thing. We were created this way. The lie is that we find that decompression in a device. 

Those quiet moments our soul longs for can’t be satisfied with the silent, but all too visual noise our smartphones provide. We will not find rest and peace in our devices. 

Almost all spouses can agree that allowing each other the freedom to unwind and relax is important, but most would also agree that seeing our beloved lost in their smartphone leaves us feeling forgotten and alone. 

Changing the narrative

This isn’t about shaming or blaming; it is about encouragement and love. Those with total control over their habits are the exception. We have all seen it when we are out in public: a family out to eat at a restaurant, a table of friends or even a couple on a date night, and everyone has a device in their hands. When we see it we cringe; we may even be repulsed by it. But do we recognize it in ourselves? 

As Christian couples, we are not immune to the pitfalls of the enemy. And we shouldn’t be blind to the fact that it is indeed the desire and intention of the Devil to destroy what is good. Even those with the best intentions need reminders to lay down their device and engage with what is right in front of them. 

So how do we take back control? How do we change the narrative? 

Start simply. Grand plans rarely come to fruition. “I will not pick up my device at all tomorrow!” This sounds noble but most likely isn’t practical or even achievable. Try to have open discussions about phone usage at times when neither spouse is currently holding theirs. Most of us are much more open to a discussion when we don’t feel like it’s a lecture in disguise. 

Together think of small ways you can begin making big changes. Some examples may include:

  • Before I look at my phone for the day, I will engage with my spouse.
  • When my spouse is in the room, my phone will stay in my pocket, or better yet, in another room.
  • If we watch a show together, our phones will be on silent.
  • Date nights, phone free.
  • While riding in the car, I will visit with my spouse, not mindlessly scroll. 
  • I’ll use my phone with intentionality, sending messages of love to my spouse throughout the day.

Simple steps in the right direction will produce positive outcomes. It will take repetition for our spouses to recognize the changes we are making. Be patient, both with yourself and your beloved. Sometimes there is hurt that needs healing, and that doesn’t happen overnight. Don’t give up even if your efforts go unrecognized initially.

This type of change requires a continued commitment to being the best version of ourselves every day. It is through the sacramental grace of marriage that we are able to lay down our selfish desires and persevere in love. As you put continued effort into being better, you can trust that God’s grace will sustain you and bless your marriage.