Coping with Financial Stress

When Tech Gets in the Way of Marriage

Healthy boundaries can strengthen the marriage connection

By Sue-Ann Lee | 16 November, 2018

“Give me a second, I really need to reply to this email.”

“Hang on, I’m almost done reading this document.”

“Sorry, I have to take this very important call.”

“I can’t talk to you because I’m busy doing work on my phone right now.”

Earlier this year, my husband and I found ourselves frequently making such statements. With the both of us doing most of our work from home, we rely heavily on our devices to get things done. Without clear boundaries in place, the lines between work and our personal and family time began to blur.

Before we knew it, we were interacting less with our children and talking even less to each other. The more time we allowed ourselves to spend on our devices working, the shorter our fuses seemed to be. We found ourselves snapping at each other as well as the children, especially if we were interrupted while replying work-related emails or messages at the dining table. Our use of technology not only crept into mealtimes, but general family time as well. We would be peeking at our phones while watching television with the kids or even when playing board games together.

Ironically, we were (and still are) advocates of setting limits on our children’s use of and exposure to technology, but not “walking the talk” ourselves. The increasing emotional distance we felt as husband and wife showed in our lack of communication, and this trickled down to our relationship with our children and in turn, our children’s relationships with one another. We clearly needed a tech-detox!

So, my husband and I sat down with each other and worked out acceptable and realistic boundaries for tech use. Here’s what we agreed on:

  • We would check in our phones after work in the evenings and on weekends.
  • Technological devices were banned from the dining table.
  • We would refrain from using our phones during date-nights.
  • If we really had to deal with urgent work matters, we would communicate it clearly with one another and set a time limit to get it done.

Setting clear boundaries helped us to better define our work hours and with this, we found ourselves more productive and efficient as we strived to get our work done within the set time.

Setting clear boundaries helped us to better define our work hours and with this, we found ourselves more productive and efficient as we strived to get our work done within the set time.

Because we were less inclined to work all hours of the day, we not only savoured the newfound time we had for ourselves, but found we had more time for our marriage and our children as well.

Truth be told, it was not at all easy in the beginning. There were still times when technology encroached into our together time, but we acknowledged that we are a work-in-progress and refrained from putting ourselves on an extended guilt trip.

We just kept each other on track by reminding ourselves of our intentions and goals – to be a tech-enabled but not tech-enslaved family.

We just kept each other on track by reminding ourselves of our intentions and goals – to be a tech-enabled but not tech-enslaved family.

We also relished the first fruits of our efforts. By being disciplined with checking in our devices when we weren’t working, we were better able to tune in to each other’s feelings and moods. Being free from the distraction of technology gave us many opportunities to appreciate our time together.

The small steps we took to set healthy boundaries around technology in our home have indeed been invaluable in restoring our enjoyment of each other’s company and our family time. We certainly hope the kids appreciate and notice the difference too!


© 2018 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.

Do you wish to connect more deeply with your spouse? Connect2 is a marriage preparation programme for newlyweds to address common marital issues and challenges. Find out more at www.family.org.sg/c2.

Sue-Ann Lee is a mother of three spirited and hilarious children who have nicknamed themselves, Rainbow Skye, Chubbs Salami and Fatt Spaghetti. Writing about her parenting experiences brings her great joy as it allows her to relive the many precious lessons learnt along the way.

 

 

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