Relationship Reboot: Put Down the Laptop
Tell me if this sounds like a familiar scenario in your home: you get back from work and turn on the TV while you make dinner. You and your significant other watch your favorite show while eating, then retreat to either side of the couch to finish up some work and answer a few emails. By the time you look up from your screens, you realize it’s almost time for bed. You check Twitter in bed before setting your phones down and turning off the light.
If you’re like me, you probably find yourself feeling disconnected from your partner the more you’re connected to everything and everyone else on your downtime. Of course, life happens and it’s not always feasible to spend an entire evening looking deep into each other’s eyes, but it’s impossible to ignore the fact that staring at a little screen all night has an effect on your relationship.
In fact, back in 2005, a study suggested that cell-phone usage can have a negative impact on stress levels and relationship satisfaction—and remember, this was two years before iPhones could suck you into a three-hour game of Angry Birds.
So, your challenge this week? Make a pact with your partner to spend the weekend unwinding together…and then figure out how to make that actually happen. Hire a babysitter. Make sure that work project is finished up by Friday afternoon. Do a little housework during the week so you can skip it this weekend (…or just skip it entirely. We won’t tell). Then, when Friday night rolls around, unplug.
Of course, the point of this exercise isn’t to bore you to death together—if you love watching a favorite show together or playing an online game, knock yourselves out. But keep the focus on time spent together, without the distraction of checking your emails in the middle of movie, without reaching for your cell phone the second you wake up, and without acting, however unintentionally, like your gadgets take priority.
And the best part of having a few gadget-free hours this weekend? It may give you some extra time for another relationship reboot…like making a bucket list together, or crossing something off of it.