Your Phone & Your Marriage
I’ve read many articles about the impact that smartphones and screentime have on our children and teens. However, they are not the only ones impacted by screentime. More and more, research suggests that screentime also impacts the quality of our marriages. In fact, 44% of married Americans under the age of 35 report their spouse is on the phone too much. This drops to 34% of married Americans between the ages of 35 and 55.
Perhaps more troubling, excessive phone usage interferes with the quality of a person’s marriage. One in five (21%) of married adults who believe their spouse is on their phone excessively report being unhappy with their marriage and having an increased worry of divorce. In addition, couples who report that screentime and phone usage pose a problem enjoy less sexual intimacy and fewer “date nights” compared to those couples who do not report a phone problem. (Statistics taken from More Scrolling, More Marital Problems.)
Overall, excessive phone use and screentime can rob you of a healthy, joyous marriage if you do not manage it wisely. Fortunately, you have the power to manage your screentime and its impact on your life. Consider the findings of a study from Swansea University. This study examined “the effects on physical health and psychological functioning of reducing social media usage by 15 minutes a day.” The participants were divided into three groups. One group reduced their social media usage by 15 minutes a day. The second group was asked to do something other than social media for 15 minutes a day. The third group simply continued social media usage as they normally would.
Ironically, the group asked to reduce social media by 15 minutes a day actually reduced their use by 40 minutes a day. The group asked to do something other than social media ended up increasing their social media usage by 25 minutes a day. The group asked to change nothing increased social media usage by 10 minutes a day.
More importantly, after three months those who reduced their social media usage exhibited a 15% improvement in immune functioning, a 50% improvement in sleep quality, and 30% fewer depressive symptoms. If reducing social media usage will impact an individual in these ways, imagine what it might do for your marriage. In fact, each of these improvements will impact marital quality in its own way through less irritability and more energy.
With all this in mind, here is a challenge (if you choose to accept it). Commit to reducing your social media usage by 15 minutes a day and use that time to connect with your spouse. Replace 15 minutes of social media usage with 15 minutes of conversation with your spouse, 15 minutes of snuggling with your spouse, or 15 minutes of holding hands with your spouse while you take a walk. Try it for the next month and discover a whole new level of intimacy in your marriage.