In the first blog of this series, we examined recent research into the strain technology weights on the relationship between lovers. Being hyper-connected to your phone was found to be correlated with reduced levels of relationship satisfaction, falling out of love, an increased tendency to be less satisfied with life overall, and higher depression rates. On a survey of college students (the cohort found to be most dependent on their smartphones), a significant link was found between higher levels of dependency on smartphones and higher levels of relationship uncertainty.
Detaching yourself from your phone and truly unplugging when you are with your loved ones will improve your life – enabling you to cultivate deeper connections and maintain them. Cecile Andres, a leader in the Voluntary Simplicity movement, reports in her survey that North American couples spend an average of just 12 minutes a day talking together. A growing body of psychology research is examining how increased reliance on technology affects our closest relationships, particularly when used during meals and intimate experiences. In a Harris Interactive poll, one-third of adults interviewed reported having used their phones while on dinner dates. More worrisome, nearly 20% of smartphone owners ages 18 to 34 reported having used their phone while having sex!
So how do you have a healthy, balanced and loving relationship in a digital world full of noise and distraction? Strategically plan “device-free time” with each other. Disconnecting digitally will help you connect personally with each other. Check the status of your relationship rather than the status of your social media feed.
This means you’ll be entirely present when eating with other people. You’ll be able to soak up the dining experience – completely aware of the food and flavors in front of you.
Get some space from your devices while at home. This way you’ll be distanced from your device and able to enjoy the evening and morning with your significant other, without the temptation of checking your notifications and emails right before bed or first thing in the morning.
Engage in outdoor activities with your significant other, leaving all electronic devices at home. While you’re enjoying nature and the beautiful sights, you won’t even notice you left it behind (and also getting some exercise while you’re at it).
Plan parts of each weekend in which all devices will be off-limits. Creating a schedule that works for both of you will increase each person’s likelihood of sticking to the plan and can help break the compulsive need to be online 24/7.
Spend ten minutes each night writing in a journal. Each partner should reflect back on their day – discussing their highs and lows, future goals, and immediate needs. Staying connected and close to your partner is important. This practice creates a space to share special moments and to actively help each other in achieving goals.
The things people post on social media are heavily curated. Most people are not going to post about their failing relationships. Don’t compare your relationship to the image people display of theirs, stopping outsiders from introducing doubt or making you wonder why your relationship isn’t as great. The most important thing is how you feel about each other, not how you look compared to others.
Have each partner print pictures from the last year and make a scrapbook highlighting your joint travels, achievements, and adventures. Taking the time to craft something with your partner will spark conversation, reflection, and laughs. It will also highlight how much fun you have together and your joint memories.
Working together to help the less fortunate is an amazing way to come together and help a cause you are both invested in. Tip: websites like VolunteerMatch can help you find local volunteer opportunities that appeal to both you and your partner.
Get dirty (in the soil that is). As a couple, decide what seeds to plant, travel to a plant store for all your new plant needs, prepare the soil, and get working! Spend dedicated time each weekend together nurturing your growing plants.
Spending time in the kitchen cooking with your partner will have you working together to decide what to make, preparing the ingredients, and executing on an amazing meal! You’ll get to savor the flavors you both worked on together and have a more meaningful dining experience