Looking Away From Our Phones and Back At Our Spouse
There have been so many nights, too many to count, when I realize that three hours have passed in which I have been so glued to my phone that I haven’t said one word to my husband. And although I’m not intending to, in those three short hours, I have actively ignored him, neglected the importance of time spent with him and placed my own needs and desires above his. On days when we can’t talk or text much before he gets home, I quickly realize that I don’t even have an idea as to what he did that day. I have made a choice to pull us apart, little by little.
In the moments that we are not actively growing closer to our husband or wife, can’t it be said that we’re growing further apart?
Learning about one another, in any relationship, begins with attention:
Attention to our spouse, attention to their likes and dislikes, attention to their love languages and attention to their personal needs. But in our world, distractions are continuously interrupting this crucial attention. This very basic prerequisite for “love” can seem impossible to give or to get.
We live in a culture of distraction, one in which so many of us have to be doing more than two things at one time in order to feel satisfied or productive. This means that sitting face-to-face with our husband or wife and having a conversation without anything in our hands, or any background noise on the TV, is becoming nearly archaic.
When we come home from a long day, it’s likely that we have every intention to talk to our husband or wife about our day, to hear one another out, to reconnect and refresh or even to hash out the petty argument that we had the night before in order to move forward. We do intend to grow closer.
But does it happen?
Instead, we pick up our phones. We tell social media about our days. We hear other people out (many that we hardly know) as they share their lives on different social media platforms. We take in information from sportscasters and give them our undivided attention. We drown one another out with Facebook clips, video games or a season of Netflix.
We are having an emotional affair with technology. Yet, in this type of “relationship”, your spouse is now competing with perpetual stimulation for just a moment of your time. They are battling the world for your affections and competing with more attractive, more intellectual and more emotionally-enticing people. They have to win out against information that is very often much more interesting than what they ate for lunch.
Once this becomes a nightly routine, rather than just one evening of alone time (which can be healthy and necessary), you are making a choice to grow further apart from the person that you chose to marry. God designed marriage so that when we say our vows, we become one. Our relationships should be a reflection of the interaction that we have with God Himself, lived out with a heart of selflessness and servanthood. It should no longer be “you” time that you seek out, but “us” time.
If we do the same thing every single day and stare at our phones or only watch TV shows together, we are making an active decision to allow our marriages to become redundant and stagnant.
You absolutely do not need a romantic date night out with a babysitter in order to reconnect with one another. These generally mundane evenings give you the perfect opportunity to break out of your every day routine and display affection.
Husbands: Love your wife. Lead your wife. Pursue your wife. Date your wife.
Wives: Enjoy your husband. Listen to your husband. Choose to appreciate his hobbies. Learn about his likes and dislikes.
Here are a few practical ways to implement this into your evenings together:
1. Spend 30 minutes together reconnecting when you both get home. Turn off your phones. I have to put mine in a different room (yes, I’m totally admitting that I have zero self-control), turn off the TV, and if you have kids, let them play – they will get used to ‘daddy and mommy time’ and that is such an important thing for them to see. Sit down together and talk.
Again, you and your spouse are one; you need to make a choice to care about the things that they care about. No matter how trivial their concerns and thoughts may seem to you at the time, your spouse is important to you which makes their concerns important as well.
2. Make an ordinary Monday through Thursday night special for one another. Take turns planning a ‘date night’ during the week. Play a board game, work out together at home, bake a dessert with her, learn how to play his favorite video game, have a glass of wine on the porch and talk about your dreams and goals, have a dance off and laugh with one another, take a walk, read a book.
My husband and I love to read books together. It’s one of our favorite things to do on these weekly date nights. The books that we read create many conversations that we wouldn’t normally have and it challenges us to be better to one another. If you’re looking for some books, we highly recommend, “You and Me Forever” by Francis Chan or “This Momentary Marriage” by John Piper.
3. Take the time to talk to one another about your marriage and ask hard questions.
“How can I be a better husband/wife to you?” “How can I serve you better?” “What have I done lately that has made you feel unloved?” “What is one thing that I can do every day to help make our marriage even better?” “In what ways can I make you feel more desired and respected?”
Although some of the answers may be hard to hear, it is important to respond with grace and understanding. Acknowledge that we all fall short and have areas for growth. I always appreciate when my husband will tell me hard answers because I know that they are just as difficult for him to say as they are for me to hear. Questions asked during a quiet and enjoyable time like this give the opportunity to communicate about important things outside of a heated argument. Oftentimes, even if something that we truly feel is said aloud during a disagreement, the tone or context can quickly destroy any opportunity for receptiveness or growth.
4. Go to bed together. Pursue intimacy. It’s likely that you will find that the comfort created during your time together on a ‘date night’, with conversation, fun and cuddling, leads to a feeling of togetherness.
Imagine how different your marriage would look if you did any of these things for even three nights a week!
Your marriage is your priority and your first ministry. Putting away our selfish desires, which includes “checking out” after a long day, will benefit our marriages in ways we couldn’t have imagined. We have the gift to come home to someone whom God has given us to share this rollercoaster of a life with.
Why are we letting that waste away?
If your husband or wife continues looking at Facebook or checking emails and texts even after having this conversation, don’t grow bitter or angry. Lead by example with love and grace. Set your phone down and just sit with them, without expectation. Before they leave for work, kindly request thirty minutes of their time once they get home. Let them know that you want to hear about how their day went. It may take time, but you will slowly create a new habit together.
By living life through our phones, we are lacking that intentional focus that says, “I am going to give you my attention now. You are home and I see you. You, as my spouse, are important to me. I am devoting these hours to you because I want to show you that I appreciate you and love you.”
Let us put down our phones and put an end to this emotional affair. A great marriage will not come by hoping for it. It’s the combination of a lot of the little things like this, and some very big things, that add up to create a healthy, strong and joyful marriage.
“Be completely humble and gentle; Be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2-3