There are many things that challenge the strength and integrity of a relationship. Anything from stress to the untimely reemergence of an ex can put a strain on an otherwise healthy partnership. Going into a relationship, most people are aware that there will be challenges. I dare say that as a relationship continues to grow that the people within it begin to expect and embrace the rough patches; after all, tough times breed character within a relationship. I can certainly say that my marriage is stronger due to the challenges my husband and I have weathered. When obvious, external factors attempt to penetrate the membrane of a relationship they are more readily dealt with, for they are somewhat expected. But what happens when the imposed threat to a relationship is a modern necessity so ever-changing that you are left utterly confused and feeling defenseless?
Technology: both a blessing and a curse. It’s quite peculiar that the devices that are meant to connect people tend to act as a barrier instead. Cell phones, tablets, and PCs are all considered communicative devices of productivity and global connectivity, yet somehow we are a society disconnected. Several reports now indicate that the most highly used global form of communication is the text message. With 8.6 trillion text messages being sent per year, the separation is apparent. In a world where access to technology is equivalent to access to opportunity, the use of smart devices is mandatory. So how do we navigate through technologies’ land mines and maintain our loving relationships?
Speak up! If you find yourself in a precarious situation where technology has played a critical role in the breakdown of your relationship, share this concern with your loved one. Only when a problem is acknowledged can you both begin to make the adjustments needed to move through the rough patch. Avoid being dismissive, and be open to a discussion where both sides of the experience can be shared.
Establish rules and respect your partner. In the time of Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking outlets, it’s very easy for communicative breakdowns to occur and trust issues to emerge. Establish a set of rules with your loved one that allows for both social freedom and comfort. Be respectful of your relationship and your mate’s feelings, and remember that no amount of a social networking is worth the relationship that you’ve pledged to honor.
Set boundaries. There’s always one more email to send or read, one more status to update. But there comes a time when you must put the cell phone or tablet down. Step away from the touch screen; I repeat, step away from the touch screen. Give yourself a curfew and make it a rule in your household that all devices be surrendered after a given time. Have dinner with your partner knowing that the time you spend together around the dinner table is sacred and meant just for you. Your mate will appreciate the consideration.
Keep it old school, sometimes. There is nothing wrong with a good old fashioned phone call. Make time to call your significant other; the sound of your voice will almost always be more soothing than a lifeless message of 160 characters or less. Romance that special someone with a handwritten letter, a memento they will keep forever. I’ve never heard of anyone with a keepsake box full of old emails. Handwritten letters are definitely the more romantic way to go.
Embrace technology by making it work for you. When used properly, technology isn’t all bad. The occasional, loving text message or email can offer a pick-me-up to an otherwise mundane day. Sing your loved one’s praises in an overly-sweet, semi-embarrassing Facebook status or Tweet. Use your tablet or mobile device to book a last minute dinner reservation at your favorite restaurant. Be creative, but know that at some point the technology ends and you begin. Be a present and active member in your relationship.
How has the presence of modern technology impacted the way you relate to your significant other? Are there specific rules that you apply to your relationship in light of the ever-changing techno-sphere? Continue this discussion with us on Facebook.
This article is intended for general education purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional counseling or medical care. If you are interested in seeking professional counseling, please call The Stone Foundation at 410-296-2004 or visit our website for more information.
Melissa Brooks-Cuffee holds two Bachelors degrees from Towson University: one in Psychology, the other in English. She is a member of the Psi Chi and Lambda Iota Tau honor fraternities, and is currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Baltimore. Melissa has assumed various administrative roles within the healthcare and mental healthcare field and maintains the positions of Administrative Assistant and Scheduling Coordinator at The Stone Foundation.