Building Your Dream Relationship: Step 4: Unplug

Building Your Dream Relationship: Step 4: Unplug

A few weeks ago, at the beginning of a session of marriage counseling in Wake Forest, NC I walked in my office to see both of my clients sitting quietly and checking their phones. How often do you see couples sitting together, but both of them busy with their smartphones? Too often, right?

Some of us still remember those times when you would go for a dinner and simply enjoy your meal and time spent with your partner without taking a series of pictures and posting them on Facebook or Instagram. These days, however, whatever you do, wherever you go…it simply doesn’t count if you don’t share it with the rest of the world. Do you have the same feeling?

As human beings, we long for connection. We all know that loneliness can have serious negative effects on our emotional, mental, and physical well-being. You may think that in this hi-tech world with accessible internet and social media expansion, we don’t ever have to feel alone.

However, this still doesn’t mean that we are not lonely. Instead of developing close, personal connections with people around us, we build interactions with virtual ‘friends’ on social media. As a replacement to the intimacy of our relationships, we share the details of our personal life with millions of people in the virtual world.

Technology and specifically smartphones have been slowly ruining our relationships and our health for the last several years. Studies show that technology can cause sleep troubles, give you headaches, lead to obesity, ruin your relationship, and literally change your brain. You still have doubts? Let’s see what does science say.

Technology can Disturb Your Sleep

According to the National Sleep Foundation, 90 percent of us use technology in the hour before we go to bed. Research shows that excessive tech use, particularly right before bedtime can have an adverse impact on our sleep cycles. Why? Well, firstly, thanks to the glowing light that’s emitted from screens. Most of the devices emit blue light which can keep our body from producing enough melatonin (hormone that helps us fall asleep).

Also, using technology in a way that is stimulating right before bedtime (video games, business calls) can stimulate the brain and release adrenaline, which makes falling asleep quickly practically impossible.

Technology Destroys Relationships

A study by Oxford University have shown couples who keep in touch overly via technology tend to have less satisfying marriages. The study surveyed 3,500 couples who used social media. The results suggest that couples who used five or more electronic channels of communication experience an average of 14 percent less relationship satisfaction than less electronically connected couples.

One of my clients says he gets frustrated each time his wife spends more than a few minutes on her phone. Smartphones cause the distractions which may lead to problems in a relationship – as your partner’s dependency on technology increases, relationship satisfaction decreases, according to Matthew Lapierre, assistant professor of communication at the University of Arizona, who studies this topic.

Also, iPhone did a study a few years ago that showed that merely having your phone out in sight while talking to your partner and friends decreases your empathy, connection, and personal power.

Furthermore, many studies show that technology may cause you to suffer from withdrawals, give you headaches, and literally change your brain.

Research shows the technology is actually rewiring our brains, between the multitasking and the addiction we feel when we’re without it. In addition, studies have demonstrated that social media use may negatively affect your self-esteem, trigger anxiety and depression, and promote feeling of isolation and loneliness.

How to Unplug?

Keep the Phone Out of the Bedroom

To save your relationship, you need to actively decide to stay technology free during the first and last hour of your day. So, at least one hour before bedtime, turn of your devices and devote time to each other.

Turn of Wi-Fi

When he wants his family to spend some quality time together, he simply turns off Wi-Fi in their house. Pick the time of the day and make it Wi-Fi free. Use this time to chat face to face, cuddle, make a meal together or simply hang out.

Share Your Tech Time

One study showed that using technology when your partner is around doesn’t always to have a bad thing. For example, if you play interactive games together or watch a movie, you may have more positive thoughts about your relationship and give you a greater sense of attachment.

Be Transparent about Technology with Each Other

This doesn’t mean you need to share all your passwords with each other. However, transparency about your tech behavior is important in building the mutual trust and confidence.

Summary

Benefits of technology today are undeniable. However, studies show that excessive device use may negatively impact your health and your relationships.

I hope this information helps you to better understand why is important to switch of your hi-tech devices and turn to each other instead . If you have any questions, do not hesitate to give me a call at (703)347 3200 and schedule an appointment in my Wake Forest office.

ABOUT AUTHOR

Irina Baechle,LCSW is a founder, owner, and a licensed therapist at IrinaBaechleCounselingLLC. She specializes in helping distant couples and anxious singles build truly connected and meaningful relationships. She currently offers online and in-home counseling services to residents of Virginia and North Carolina (and most countries abroad). Click here to schedule your free 15 min consultation. Follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Youtube for useful tips and resources.

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