Disconnect between couples, emotionally, physically, and mentally is something I see frequently in my practice. When technology is affecting relationships there is often clear distress between the couple. They discuss what they would like their partners to do more of to help feel connected. While this is a necessary part of reconnecting, I find that couples often avoid the concept of removing items or distractions that contribute to this disconnect from their lives. Not surprisingly, smartphones and other electronic devices are the most popular distractions of choice!
Some effects of these distractions on our everyday lives are: a lack of mindfulness, lack of communication, and stress and separation anxiety. All of these side effects contribute to disconnect from our partners. So, if you are interested in enhancing your relationship and improving your connection with your partner, here are some tips I often suggest to my clients:
4 Ways to Prevent Technology From Impacting Your Relationship
1. Have a device-free hour
Okay…so if you think you might go through some withdrawals during that hour and it feels overwhelming, start with 20 minutes and gradually build up to an hour. This isn’t meant to be anxiety-inducing, but a positive time for you and your partner (or family) to put the phones and electronics away and have some quality time.
2. Turn off the notifications a half-hour before bedtime
This will help create a positive bedtime routine for you and your partner, which can also greatly improve intimacy and feeling connected. Additionally, the combination of being stimulated by the phone and the potential of it waking you up throughout the night has negative impacts on sleep – so turning off the notifications can also improve your sleep!
3. Find an activity to do together
Binge watching Game of Thrones doesn’t count – sorry! Once a week, choose an activity that you enjoy doing together, and make time for it. Some examples are cooking, exercising, going for a walk, or going to a museum.
4. Become present
Lack of mindfulness is one of the big impacts of using our smartphones. Have you ever had that moment where you think “how did I get here?” despite having been walking down the city streets for about 10 minutes? Or, “what did my partner just say?” There are different techniques you can do (besides putting the phone down) to become more present. One great option is incorporating a meditation practice into your life – there are some great guided meditations for beginners. Some other methods you can do is focus on your breathing or other sensations in your body; you can also take a moment to take in your surroundings – what are you hearing, seeing, smelling, etc. Becoming present and mindful is not only useful for you to become more connected with your partner, but maybe even more importantly, you become more connected to yourself.
What I would suggest is starting with one of these four tips. Once you feel you’ve been able to successfully incorporate one into your routine, then add another, and so on. It’s easy to get caught up in our day to day and sucked into our devices but taking that extra effort to disconnect from our electronics and connect with our partners can make all the difference for a happy and healthy relationship.