It is easy to get caught up in the demands of life to find we are living our lives narrowly focusing on work or home, and we forget or neglect ourselves and our marriage. Don’t allow the daily grind to become the focus to the exclusion of your marriage.
Finances, Work (in and out of the house), Sex, In Laws and Children are the five big areas that dominate conflict in most relationships… and now we’ve added Technology.
Couples use technology in the little and large moments. They negotiate over when to use it and when to abstain. A portion of them quarrel over its use and have had hurtful experiences caused by tech use. At the same time, some couples find that digital tools facilitate communication and support. A majority of those in couples maintain their own separate email and social media accounts, though a smaller number report sharing accounts and calendars. And fully two-thirds of couples share passwords.
Technology as a source of conflict
Whilst most of the qualities that help sustain a good relationship have not changed – commitment, effective communication, constructive conflict and patience, honesty and forgiveness amongst others – there is strong evidence that couples are using these technologies to enhance their relationships. Both the opportunities and threats associated with the use of internet and mobile technologies by couples and the use of them must be understood and considered to ensure programs are relevant and meaningful to meet the evolving needs of couples in all their life stages.
For generations, commentators have worried about the impact of technology on people’s stress. Trains and industrial machinery were seen as noisy disruptors of pastoral village life that put people on edge. Telephones interrupted quiet times in homes. Watches and clocks added to the de-humanising time pressures on factory workers to be productive. Radio and television were organised around the advertising that enabled modern consumer culture and heightened people’s status anxieties.
Inevitably, the critics have shifted their focus onto digital technology. There has been considerable commentary about whether internet use in general and social media use in particular are related to higher levels of stress and conflict.
Such analysts often suggest that it is the heaviest users of these technologies that are most at risk. Critics fear that these technologies take over people’s lives, creating time pressures that put people at risk for the negative physical and psychological health effects that can result from stress.
Smartphones have moved front and centre, across many of our relationships for better and in some cases, for worse. A recent study looked at the relationship between the presence of mobile devices and the quality of face-to-face catch-ups (Deloitte Global Mobile Consumer Survey, 2016). The results, not surprisingly, found that conversations in the absence of mobile devices were rated as significantly higher compared with when the individuals communicating had access to their mobile devices.
The debate is beginning to intensify in business and social settings as to what constitutes appropriate smartphone behaviour. The rules are not written and what one mobile consumer might think is appropriate, another might deem abhorrent.
When phones were first released the act of taking a call or even looking at your phone at a restaurant was a no-go zone, compared with today where the standard protocol is to take a photo of your dish, to post it online for your friends to join in your dining experience. It seems that as much as we love our smartphones, our adoring connection with them is creating distances and disharmony in many of our closest relationships.
Nearly a third of Australians admit to having had an argument about mobile phone usage with their partner and 1 in 5 do so at least monthly. If we are not careful our most favourite device could become our most divisive device.
Specifically, the survey found that a quarter of Australian 18-24 year olds noted that their excessive use of smartphones had caused disagreements with their partners. For 25-34 year-olds the proportion was even higher, at 36 per cent.
While stress is not associated with the frequency of people’s technology use, or even how many friends users have on social media platforms, the use of technology is often associated with conflict between couples. Our connection with them is creating distances and disharmony in many of our closest relationships.
Through continued communication, commitment and loyalty we can tackle the ups and downs of our relationship together. If you and your partner ever feel overwhelmed by the ensuing discussion, we encourage you to seek out professional support. Call us.
Tune in next week for more tips and ideas.
Tune in next week for more tips and ideas related to family of origin… or contact me Shane Smith firstname.lastname@example.org or @ www.intentional-relationship.com
#PREPARE/ENRICH is a customised online assessment tool that identifies each couples unique strength and growth areas. Based on their assessment results, a facilitator provides feedback sessions, helping couples to discuss and understand their results while teaching them proven relationship skills.
For more information on PREPARE/ENRICH or to simply set up a couple on the tool, please contact: www.prepare-enrich.com.au or call today (02) 9520 4049 #prepareenrich #strongerrelationships