Turn Off Your Stupid “Smart Phones!”

Here are the rules in my marriage for technology-free time.

Posted Nov 17, 2013

Modern technology, meant to keep us all connected, creates distance in couples even when we’re not aware of it. Every couple needs to have technology-free time to experience each other with full, undistracted attention.

People become convinced that they have to take that call while they’re on the beach, and that they’ll advance more quickly at their job if they’re available on email at all times Rarely is this entirely or even mostly true.

Nor do you always need to be checking the news, the score, your email, or anything else. And calling or texting a partner unnecessarily when he or she is out with friends is not just rude. It's potentially hazardous to the relationship. We all need some mate-free space.

Consider following Rule #38 in Marriage Rules.  Sit down with your partner and make rules for technology-free time.

Here's the rules in my marriage:

1 iPhones off and out of sight during food preparation and eating meals. No answering land lines either.

2. No taking calls when we’re in the middle of a conversation or we have people over. Calls can be returned later.

3. If it’s absolutely necessary to take a call, do so out of earshot from others.

It’s especially important to unplug from technology if your partner complains about it. A client of mine made a significant improvement in his marriage when he informed his wife that his new rule was “No technology of any kind for two hours after leaving work and coming home to you and the kids.”

The change was especially meaningful because his wife, for good reason, was highly reactive to his BlackBerry. She once threw his BlackBerry in the toilet when she really needed his help getting dinner ready and he wouldn’t stop texting his brother. This action comes with a “Don’t try this at home” tag, although it did get his attention.

These days, it’s good to have “time out” rules from, say, anything you’re prohibited using during takeoff and landing in an airplane. Only after you’ve become disciplined enough to carve out technology-free time, will you realize how the seductive lure of technology can separate you from your relationship—and from yourself.