Picture this: A couple sits on the couch, their dog between them, their kids sound asleep upstairs. They're watching a DVR'ed Daily Show, or half-watching, because both their laptops are open. They're checking work emails, scanning Facebook, writing blog posts, or surfing sports scores. Every now and then one will say something to the other, usually with a murmured "uh-huh" in reply, without taking their eyes from their laptop screen.
Sound familiar? It does to me ... it's the scene in my house almost every night. Technology is a wonderful thing, unquestionably. Wi-Fi, smartphones, and laptops mean that we don't have to be tethered to the office to be productive, but it also means that we're never quite off the clock, either. Throw in the fact that we keep up with our friends mostly through Facebook, Twitter, or email, and that adds up to a lot of screen time and not a lot of face time with our partner. And it's increasingly causing problems in relationships.
Couples find themselves slowly drifting apart and not realizing it because they are so often in the same room but not together. Some people discover their spouse's Facebook friendship with someone has spilled over into "real life" and become a full-blown affair ... sometimes conducted while they are sitting right next to their spouse watching a movie. And this is kind of a sad image: A couple lying in bed next to each other, each playing Scrabble against a computer on their phones instead of hauling out the board game and spending the evening interacting with each other.
So how do you keep all your tech devices from driving a wedge between you and your partner? First of all, examine your own feelings: Are you always tied to your laptop because you are hiding from the truth? Do you still feel the same about your partner?
If you still love your partner just as much, but you've fallen into some bad habits, counselors advise treating your partner with the same respect as you would your boss. If your boss came up to talk to you, you wouldn't keep surfing the web and not even look at her, so do the same for your partner. If you really can't be interrupted, let him know, and close the laptop and disconnect when you're finished with your task.
Set tech-free, disconnected times when neither of you pulls out your phones or opens your laptops: In the car, maybe, or in your bedroom, or during dinner. You'll find that you don't, in fact, need to be connected every second of every day to stay on top of things.
And finally, find time to tend your relationship as much as you do your FarmVille plot. Your relationship is worth a few withered crops, right?
Do you find technology coming between you and your significant other?
Image via Yutaka Tsutano/Flickr