National Association of Marriage Enhancement

Cell Phones: Intimacy Killer or Relational Blessing?

Smart phones have now been a part of our normal lives for a long time now. If you don’t have one, you are in the minority. Those of us who do have them know how incredibly addictive they can be. It often feels like an extra body part, an extension of ourselves. We also know how in touch it keeps us – texting throughout the day, saving our memories on social media and calling one another on the way home from work. So here is the question: Are phones intimacy killers or a relational blessing? The answer is both. It is important to study the role that cell phones have in our marriage and how we can make sure they provide an effective, supportive role in our marriage.

Ways cell phones can kill intimacy:

1. Bedtime usage The temptation is to scroll through your newsfeed, check your emails one last time or maybe get in one last cell phone game before bed. Newsflash: your bed is a great place to have sex! Phones are a distraction from sexual affection.

2. Dating your phone We have all seen a couple that is on a date and it looked like most of the dinner they spent looking at their individual phones then at each other. Dinner is a great time to connect over conversation. Phones often stop that from happening.

3. “I promise I’m listening.” If your spouse says, “are you listening to me?” Chances are you are not looking at him or her. The best listening habit is to look at one another because listening is more than just hearing. Great listeners notice expressions and give affirmation cues to let the spouse know they are truly hearing them.

Ways cell phones are a relational blessing:

1. Sharing your day Sometimes one spouse has to travel for work or is on a long shift. Cell phones help connect marriages in a day-to-day way that was not possible for generations past.

2. Sending sweet notes Handwritten notes are sweet, but in our modern day, we can send sweet things back and forth throughout the day. An “I love you” and a “thank you for helping pick up the kids” nourish your marriage, even when you are not in the same room!

3. Recording memories One of my husband’s and my favorite things is the social media app, Instagram. I love sharing pictures with friends and family, but even more so, I love when we look back on what we posted a year ago and jog our memories together about the fun times we had.

As you can see, there are positives and negatives to our cell phone driven culture. You can reap all the benefits and protect your marriage by creating healthy boundaries. Limit bedtime usage; don’t put your phone on the table during dinner; make efforts to increase eye contact. Cell phones are often keeping us from intimacy and important conversations, but its time to put the phones down and have a very necessary conversation. Talk about establishing limits and boundaries so that cell phones can be a blessing in your marriage and not a source of conflict.

Tell us. We want to hear from you! Have you ever established any boundaries on cell phone usage? If so, what have you chosen to do in your marriage?

We are excited to have Joshua Straub at IMC 20, our fall marriage conference; he will be doing a workshop on the Screen Balanced Family. For more on this topic, check out this blog, “What my Iphone Stole From Me,” written by Christi Straub.