Can Tech Actually Build a Marriage?

Love in a world of apps

By June Yong | 18 February 2020

Technology has gotten somewhat of a bad reputation; we blame tech for everything from children’s restlessness and inability to pay attention, to spousal neglect.

But can tech actually bring some benefit to a marriage? As Daphne*’s story shows, the answer may be yes.

 

Sam* and I did not have many disagreements before we got married. But after marriage, we found it a struggle to resolve our conflicts. Each time I would explode from my pent-up emotions, and he would retreat.

One night, he was doing an overnight shift at work, so I was alone with the children at home. By accident, I found out that he had lied to me about a long-simmering issue (something to do with his hoarding habit). I couldn’t call him at work as it was late and I didn’t want to wake the children up, so I sent him a long and angry WhatsApp message.

Surprisingly, he replied with an equally long message, apologising and explaining his actions. This was the first time he had explained himself, and the first time I had a glimpse of his feelings and struggles. The messaging went back and forth for about an hour or so, and it was the most open conversation we had ever had.

One thing I learnt from that conversation was that he felt like he didn’t dare to talk to me as I was constantly angry and he didn’t want to make things worse—this was why he retreated. Plus, he doesn’t like to speak much so he found it difficult to express himself verbally, especially to an angry wife. With messaging, he was able to think through more carefully and craft his response in a way that expressed how he really felt.

Since then, there have been a few more instances where we’ve settled conflicts via messaging. This strategy has helped us somewhat…I feel we are more like a team now and are able to deal with situations together.

He also feels more understood, and is more willing to share his feelings and how I can support him.

 

Daphne and Sam have been married for about 10 years, and are in their late 30s to early 40s. They are both introverts, which might explain why text messaging worked well for them.

With messaging, he was able to think through more carefully and craft his response in a way that expressed how he really felt.

The wonderful world of WhatsApp

I could relate to certain aspects of their story, especially the part where she would explode and he would retreat. This phenomenon, known as stonewalling, is where one party (often the male) feels overwhelmed by the avalanche of emotions and seeks solace in his or her inner cave.

When I feel frustrated at not being able to connect with my husband, I would tuck myself away in my room, and silently process my upset.

Reaching for the phone and furiously translating all my negativity into text strangely help to soothe my anger and remove its raw edge. Sometimes after typing it all out, I would not send it, choosing instead to save it as an email draft, for another day and time when we are able to sit down calmly and resolve things.

Reaching for the phone and furiously translating all my negativity into text strangely help to soothe my anger and remove its raw edge.

But WhatsApp isn’t just helpful for couple conflicts; it’s also handy for sharing sweet thoughts or helpful articles.

When my husband is going through a stressful period at work, I am mindful not to message him about trivial things during the day. But if I chance upon a Bible verse or inspirational quote relevant to his situation, I will send it along.

When he travels for work, the video call function works well too. It gives the kids peace of mind to be able to see him, and also catch glimpses of the city he is in!

Mad about each other or Netflix?

One way we relax at home is to watch Netflix after the kids go to bed. We don’t do this every night but sometimes we do find ourselves working our way through a series.

But is Netflix actually beneficial to a couple?

According to a study, sharing TV shows, movies, and books can actually boost the quality of a marriage. It is associated with greater intimacy and confidence in the relationship, especially if the couple does not have many mutual friends in real life.

So it turns out you need not feel guilty about the occasional Netflix binge—provided it’s used to build common ground with your spouse.

Get in sync

Here are some simple techy ideas you can use to strengthen your love-bond:

  1. Google calendar
    This is helpful in synchronising our calendars so that we can see each other’s activities for the week. This is helpful for me especially as I know when he’s not coming home for dinner.
  2. Wunderlist
    This app is handy for people with lots of to-do lists. Fill one of those lists with dinner venues and romantic ideas that you can refer to when you are planning a date night.
  3. Evernote or Google Keep
    Evernote appeals to those who like to plan or take notes. We personally use this to plan for trips or home projects, and occasionally share our notes from the books that we read.
  4. Blinkist
    Blinkist provides summaries of best-selling non-fiction books, allowing you to read and learn something new every day. (You can cover the summary in about 15 minutes!) I find it useful because if I chance upon something good, I can share it with my spouse, and he will be able to read the same material on his lunch break or when he has some free time.
  5. Games
    If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. You may not see yourself as much of a gaming person, but if your spouse enjoys a particular game, it says a lot if you make an effort to learn and join in the game play too!

 

As with everything else, moderation is key when it comes to using technology at home. So when you find the right apps that work for you—whether in resolving a quarrel or building common interest—do use it wisely!

I like to use this as a personal gauge: If the technology or app helps me to better communicate with my spouse, or better understand him, I know it is a keeper.

* Names were changed for the couple’s privacy.

 

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© 2020 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.

 

 

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