Are you married to your cellphone? Confession Time! Guess who interrupted “Date Night” to post on Facebook? Now, don’t get me wrong. The underlying goal was to promote Date Nights and Black Love along with the fact that my husband was looking mighty fine. However, one thing led to another (like an affair) but this time, it was in an affair with my cell phone. I started with a simple posting but then got sucked into those “pop up notifications.” As if that was not enough, I then ventured into my email to ensure I wasn’t missing any opportunities. Lawd help me!
According to a recent study, Asurion found that the average person struggles to go more than 10 minutes without checking their phone. And of the 2,000 people surveyed, one in 10 checks their phones on average once every four minutes. I bet you have an urge to check your phone now, don’t you? Clearly, we are struggling and according to these numbers, I’m in good company.
So, why are we addicted to our phones? Well, when those notifications for emails, texts, or phone calls go off, our bodies get a shot of dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, a chemical responsible for sending messages between the brain and different nerve cells of the body that are connected to the pleasure systems of our brain, and therefore motivates us to seek out certain behaviors. So it seems that we get an immediate satisfaction that stimulates our brain’s reward centers with every notification alert. And as we become more addicted to that instant gratification, our marriages can suffer as a result.
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So, are you married to your cell phone? Here are five signs you could very well be.
5 Signs You Might Be Married to Your Cell Phone
1. Cell Phone Separation Anxiety – Do you grab for your phone as soon as you open your eyes in the morning? Do you reach for it over coffee and/or breakfast? Do you carry your cell phone everywhere? Do you respond to every notification alert?
2. Spousal Negligence – Do you find yourself carelessly passing time on your cell phone while neglecting or if you want to keep it lighter…not attending or ignoring your spouse?
3. Ready, Set, Respond…Respond…Respond – Do you find yourself reading and answering text messages, emails, tweets, from sun up to sun down? Do you answer texts even when it means interrupting other things you are doing? Does time on your phone take away from quality time with your spouse OR what could be quality time with your spouse?
4. Spousal Warning – Does your spouse (friends and family too) complain about the constant frequency of your technology use?
5. Digitally Distracted – Do you text, email, tweet, or surf the internet while engaging in other activities that require your focused attention and concentration (e.g. driving, working, school, etc.)
I’m willing to say every spouse at one time or another has been guilty (myself included)…it is just a matter of consistency or should I say consumption? So don’t guilt trip yourself too hard. Rather, take heed to the following helpful tips on how to avoid digital distractions and focus on your marriage:
Tips to Divorce Digital Distractions:
1. Spousal Inquiry – If you want to know if your cell phone and technology are impacting your marriage, just ask your spouse. They will be sure to let you know their feelings and/or concerns.
2. Technology Time – Allow for quality time interacting with one another with no technology. Set blocks of time with and without technology. This can help communicate to your spouse that he/she and the marriage is top priority to you.
3. Dinner Disconnect – Absolutely no cell phones at dinner as this gives you an opportunity to connect with your spouse and to have an open conversation without digital distractions.
4. Switch Settings – Kick those automatic notifications to the curb on your cell phone, laptop, and/or tablet so that you don’t receive any automatic notifications. Speaking from experience, I know this can be hard, but this can help you become less addicted to the “dopamine drug.”
5. Mornings Matter – Many individuals check email and/or social media before they are even out of bed in the morning. Commit to the first 30 minutes of your day being dedicated to doing more positive things, such as having breakfast or coffee with your spouse, working out, work on self (improvement) — all without picking up your cell phone.
6. Unplug – At least one hour before bedtime, power off your cell phone and devices. Blue light waves are transmitted through our electronics, which can cause eyestrain, headaches, physical and mental fatigue, and inability to sleep at night. In addition, if your electronics aren’t distracting you, you create more of an opportunity for cuddling and other physical affection…remember sex?
Technology is not inherently bad or good for your marriage. It’s how you use it that determines whether it’s bad or good. Be intentional about technology and use it to better connect with your spouse and improve your marriage while being mindful and committing to the above tips.
BMWK, are digital distractions harming your marriage?