Technology is everywhere. From cellphones to tablets to computers and television, it is inevitable that technology somehow interferes with your intimate relationship. This is because, like your need for quality time or your preference for an organized household, you and your partner will differ on your preferences for technology use and what qualifies as improper interference.
The influence of technology is not going away, so it is important that you find a way to make it an asset rather than a sore spot on your relationship. Use the following tips to take control of technological interference in your relationship.
1. Find the link between tech use and your values.
Our preferences for technology use often reflect deeper values or insecurities we hold about relationships. For example, you might feel that your partner checking his or her phone while on a date with you means you are boring or that he or she cares more about something (or someone) else. Another example, you feel loved when your partner watches a certain show with you and look forward to it every weekend (see, not all technology influences are negative).
Try to highlight the positive and negative impacts of technology in your relationship. Take some time to really parse through its influence on your day-to-day interactions. Ask yourself what you appreciate and identify behaviors in your partner or yourself that you want to change.
2. Determine your hard and soft lines.
It’s never okay to text while we are driving. It is okay to watch TV at meals sometimes, but let’s try and have at least a couple of meals per week that are tech-free. It means a lot if you check on me at least once per day by text.
Whatever your rules are, you certainly have them, and some rules will be more flexible than others. It is helpful to be as upfront as possible about them to your partner to avoid passive aggression, defensiveness, and needless conflict. Help your partner understand what most frustrates or inspires appreciation in you and why.
3. Establish tech-free time.
The actual quantity of time that suffices will vary from relationship to relationship, but every partnership requires time where you can be with your partner and only your partner. Keep technology from interfering with your daily or weekly check-in’s and any serious discussions. When your partner wants your attention, it is your responsibility to follow through and not fall victim to the draw of technological distraction.
Be direct in requesting your partner’s full attention, and be respectful when such a request is made of you. As many benefits that technology can offer, it is also a monumental distraction. Keep your phone in the other room if you have to, just find a way to maintain your focus exclusively on your partner at least some of the time.
4. Stay flexible.
Remember, different perspectives and preferences for technology use are not about who is right and who is wrong. This is about finding a balance that works for your specific relationship. You are trying to understand your partner’s values and meet his or her needs, and this will require some flexibility on your part to please your partner and maintain healthy boundaries.
Be careful about comparing yourself to other relationships. What works for them may not work for both of you, and vice versa. Your openness and willingness to find where you can compromise versus where one of you needs to change reflects a desire to foster a healthy relationship. In the end, this shared goal will help your relationship thrive.