Is the unfiltered use of your phone, taking away from the depth of your relationship with your spouse, with others, and/or with the Lord?
In this blog post, I want to address the increasing addiction to – and ignorance of – our phone use, and its sneaky way of creating a divisive wedge in our relationships. This is something that has been a reoccurring issue for Audrey and I, so I am not here to tell you we’ve got it all dialed…. I am hoping to share some thoughts, convictions, and ideas surrounding phone usage and its potential to inhibit our relationships (specifically with our spouse and with the Lord) from thriving.
Are you married to your Smartphone?
We have replaced our innate craving for silence and stillness, with entertainment and frankly, our iPhones. When an opportunity for silence and stillness presents itself in our lives, we are quick to fill it with the thousands of voices on our Facebook feeds, e-mails, and text messages. Our brains now crave stimulation, when what we actually need (in order to live at peace) is silence and stillness.
The world we live in is rampant with distractions vying for our attention at any given moment. We live in a constant state of stimulation – in our cities, airports, workplaces, homes, and in the palm of our hands… We are prone towards consumption rather than contentment. Multitasking is no longer a skill that some possess, but rather a standard and norm.
We fall into the trap of doing more, reading more, posting more, buying more, “liking” more, and sharing more, and we forget to just BE. These efforts may have increased our width of knowledge/skill, but they have compromised our depth of intimacy in relationships.
Our phone usage is the biggest and most obvious interruption to/distraction from, moments of quiet contentment with our spouse, friends, family, and/or the Lord.
A recent study done by Informate Mobile Intelligence estimated that the average American checks their social media 17 times a day, and averages around 4.7 hours total time spent on social media per day. Considering that the average American is awake for 15 hours a day, that is approximately one-third of your day spent on your phone! That’s insane…
We joke about this, but this reality provokes serious ramifications. We cannot deny that we have become addicted to our phones… I would argue, our phones have actually just fed our pre-existing addictions. For example, perhaps you are a workaholic, now you can literally work 24/7 without driving to the office. Perhaps you are addicted to gossip, you no longer have to wait for the latest magazine to release, just swipe right. Maybe you are addicted to shopping, no need to drive to a store and wait in line, just enter your credit card info. Or maybe you’re addicted to pornography, don’t worry you can now look at whatever you want whenever you want without anyone else seeing it…. I hope you sense my sarcasm here…When I say we are addicted to our phones, I am really saying that our phones are making it seemingly impossible to break or overcome any addictions, bad habits, or sin in our lives.
Our phones are enabling and intensifying our weaknesses. In an effort to break this addiction, we need a whole lot of self-discipline, and we need to re-learn how to be contently quiet and still. (1 Corinthians 10:13) We need to create room for moments of intimacy in our marriages, and with the Lord, rather than spending ever spare moment on Instagram.
It’s no wonder that the anxiety and depression rates are through the roof. So many people long for peace, but aren’t willing to change in order to receive it. Isn’t it funny how we want the reward without the sacrifice? We want peace and contentment in our relationships, but aren’t willing to just be silent and still?
Convicted?! We are…
“Okay Jer, what does any of this have to do with marriage or relationships?” Well, if one-third of our day is spent being consumed with, and distracted by our phones, what did we used to do with all that time?! Might I suggest that we used to spend that time in the here and now – we used to have actual face-time with people, and I’m not talking about the Apple version…. I would like to make the bold proclamation that our phone usage has a lot to do with the frailty of all of our relationships today – parent-child, boyfriend-girlfriend, and/or husband-wife.
Jesus was the perfect model of how to have a healthy and intimate relationship. He specifically modeled this in His relationship with the Father, but I think the principles are the same for all relationships. We must spend quality time, in order to have quality relationships.
Jesus was constantly found praying, meditating, and spending quality time with the Father. He found strength and peace in those moments of stillness, and His relationship with the Father flourished because of it.
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35)
“Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:16)
“In those days, Jesus went out to the mountain to pray, and He spent the night in prayer to God.” Luke 6:12
How many of your men have wives with “quality time” as their love language?! My guess would be, majority of you…Most women rank high on “quality time” according to Gary Chapman’s, “5 Love Languages Test.” Quality time does not mean, being together and on your phones, working, scrolling social media, and texting other people.
The problem with the overuse of our phones is that it eliminates our ability to be listening and fully engaged in our relationships.
Remember, where we spend our time, is where we spend our love.
We must be willing to exercise self-discipline with our phone use, and rediscover the peace the comes from undistracted, unstimulated time with those we love. I am hoping this blog post, encourages you to be consciously aware of your phone use. Below, I’ve offered just three examples of healthy boundaries to set on your phone usage. I would also encourage you to come up with your own and discuss them with your spouse. Talk about how you can create space for silence, stillness, and ultimately – depth and intimacy in your relationship with your spouse (and Jesus).
3 Healthy Boundaries to Set for Phone Usage:
1. Create a no device time every day.
Maybe for you, that means putting your phone on airplane mode when you go to sleep, and not turning it back on until you have spent time with the God in the morning.
2. Build a rhythm of quietness into your routine.
Maybe for you, that means setting aside a time each day (perhaps on your commute to work) to turn off notifications, turn off music, turn off news, and just ask God what He might want to speak to you. Or maybe you decide to spend some time in silence with your wife each evening.
3. Choose certain activities where you leave your phones behind.
For example, going for a walk? To a friends house? On a date-night? Leave your phones at home. It’s shockingly refreshing.
In my experience, one sign of a healthy relationship is the ability to be with that person, and not have to say a thing. Comfortable silence. I believe there is something special that happens in the souls of two people when they are intentionally together to do just that – be together (quality time).
In perspective, I think the same is true with our heavenly Father. Often we feel like we need to talk when we pray, or we need to hear from Him, and if we don’t, then the “hangout” was unsuccessful. Not true.
Sometimes all that is needed is our time, and everything else is understood. Time is a precious commodity, so why do we waste it so carelessly? Jesus wants your unhindered time more than anything, and so does your spouse.
Unhindered and undistracted time with your spouse is a quintessential ingredient to a healthy marriage (or any type of relationship for that matter).
I am reminded of an interview done with Mother Teresa. When asked what she asks God when she prays, she replied,“I don’t talk, I simply listen.” The confused interviewer then asked, “Well, what Does God say?” Mother Teresa replied again with, “He also doesn’t talk. He also simply listens.”
After some silence, she said, “And if you can’t understand the meaning of what I’ve just said, I’m sorry but there’s no way I can explain it any better.”
The idea is, to truly reach the depths of a relationship, we must be willing to just be with them. And it might not make sense at first. But I have a feeling it is something that must be experienced to be believed. There is something special that happens when people intentionally use the most valuable resource they have, time, and spend it with one another. Time uninterrupted by social media notifications and blue screens that keep us consciously and subconsciously in a state of entertainment and distraction.
I’m not saying I’m perfect at this, because I AM NOT. I am sharing my honest convictions and thoughts after realizing this to be a struggle in my own life and marriage. The addiction to my phone is something I want to break in order to spend more quality time with my Savior, and wife. At the end of my life, I would much rather have spent 4.7 hours or 1/3 of my days with my wife, than with my phone.
***Phones are amazing tools. Auj and I do a large portion of our work from our phones. We use them often and daily for our ministry, our mission, and to connect with others. We take lots of photos, and maintain many long distance relationships through our phones. They are a great tool and a blessing. But all tools can be overused…. My intent in writing this article is not to bash iPhones and say we should all throw the baby out with the bathwater. No, Rather, I hope to encourage you to think and reflect honestly about the unhealthy ways that you use your phone. What boundaries can you set on your phone usage in order to allow more room for depth of intimacy in your relationships – specifically, with your spouse?
We would love to hear some of the boundaries you have set on phone usage in the comments!