“It’s 3:00 am, why are you checking your email now?…because you want to see if your vacation notification is working?”
“The blue glow from your lap top in our bedroom is really attractive, but turn that stupid thing off!”
“Are you listening? I need to tell you something important…oh, I see, you are listening and are good at multi-tasking”
“Do we really need to store the remote under your pillow?”
“You want me to text you? I thought we might actually have a conversation here at the restaurant.”
“Yes Wikipedia is interesting and no, I don’t want to know how many varieties of mold have been discovered in the last 10 years.
“Honey, we don’t need to set the GPS to get to my mother’s house. What do you mean you are searching for an alternative route that takes longer?”
Smart Phones, Lap Tops, iPads, Kindles, Smart Watches, Downloads, GPS Navigators, Video-Game Consoles, Monitors, MP3 Players, etc., etc.
Sound familiar? Technology has invaded our culture, our lives, our relationships. Relentless, technology marches on with the newest, coolest, sexiest gizmo never more than weeks away from release. These concerns are more and more a part of the complaints I hear in the couples therapy room.
I have to say, when it comes to technology, I feel a bit like Gollum in the Hobbit, remember him, the character with a split personality – one part talking to the other part with a love/hate thing. My internal conversation is about technology. “My precious iPod, you are amazing, I can use G mail, Google calendar, use Microsoft Word, read books and sync it all wireless with my netbook. I can even deal with angry birds and land airplanes – best score 57 safe landings ….wait, go away, I know you want me all the time – you call to me all the time.Yes you are clever and seductive…yes precious I can listen to any artist I like on Pandora radio…WAIT (Whew)! “
There is a sort of “use your powers for good” concept here. Undoubtedly, technology has made our lives easier in countless ways. Yes technology can make our work easier. The “dark side” is summarized in a session I had with a couple recently. Both partners expressed the toll technology has taken on their relationship. One partner stated that, “We have never been more connected, and yet more lonely”
Given that we ultimately have to learn to deal with the realities of technological innovation in our daily lives, how might couples manage the challenges of technology and the impact on their individual lives and their relationship? John Gottman’s research on relationships lead to the “Sound Relationship House” model. Happy stable relationships have three different parts of the relationship going well: the friendship system, conflict system, and the meaning system. It’s this last category that best addresses the technology issue. Questions in this last component deal with what gives the couple meaning, the kind of life style, values, roles each person sees for a happy and healthy relationship. GOAL: ADAPT TECHNOLOGY TO YOUR LIVES, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND ( ADAPTING YOUR LIVES TO TECHNOLOGY)
Have a Conversation With Your Partner About Technology
- What are the ways I think our involvement with technology sometimes interferes with our relationship?
- What do I like about how we manage technology in our lives?
- How might we adapt our technology and use of technology to better match what we value in a life style as: Individuals? A couple? A Family?
Remember, connecting with your partner will sometimes mean walking away from those seductive electronic sirens beckoning us for “just a little bit longer”.