Did I really just suggest you unplug this summer? But how will you keep track of your favorite team or see the never-ending vacation pictures of friends and family? With so much going on during the summer, how could you possibly unplug and why would you even want to?
Here’s one really good reason…for the sake of your relationship!
Opportunities to connect with your partner are missed everyday due to the number of ‘quick’ glances you and your partner take towards the nearest screen. I know it’s a hard habit to break, but hopefully with the right motivation and a little practice you and your partner will be well on your way to a happier, healthier, less distracted, and recharged relationship.
Screen time, especially cell phones, have created a reality where you don’t have to talk to or interact with other people, even your spouse, in any real way in order to feel connected. When you ‘like’ or comment on a status, you feel connected, but are you really? Often times, you are connecting to other people through social media while sacrificing true connection and time with your spouse. STOP IT, put the phone down and slowly walk away. With summer in full effect and the warm weather begging you to get outside, it is time to focus on your relationship more than your phone or tablet.
If you’re like most of us, you have probably admitted to yourself or others that you need to spend less time plugged in. The hard part is figuring out the first step to curbing your screen time then finding the dedication and motivation to stick to your plan.
Here are a few tips to help you put down the screen and leave it down.
- Create a device docking station where screens go to rest while you and your partner connect in a different part of the house.
- Put your device on silent. When it isn’t beeping or vibrating at you, it is much easier to ignore.
- Ask your partner to observe and make note of your device use. Note, you may not like the feedback, but it can be illuminating to see how often you actually are on your device.
- Set a device-free time slot in your day. Maybe it could be no phones during dinner or no devices after 8pm.
- Schedule device-free dates.
- Reward yourself for successful device-fee relationship recharging activities. Rewards can be your preference, maybe its cake and ice cream, or long bubble bath, maybe its really good sex with that partner you just reconnected to.
OK, now that we have identified several first steps to unplugging, what are you going to do with all your extra time.
This can be the scary part. You have decided to unplug and now it is just you and your partner staring at one another. What are you going to do to fill the time? What are you going to talk about? Do you even have things in common anymore? I know, it’s enough to trigger an anxiety attack. Take a deep breath. I am here to help make unplugging and recharging your relationship easier and less anxiety provoking.
First things first, give yourself a break and lower your expectations just a bit. Just because you’re not staring at a phone, doesn’t mean that you need to spend hours staring into each other’s eyes discussing the meaning of life. It really can be as simple as sharing a snack and talking about the weather. Putting too much pressure on moments that are met to bring you closer to your partner will likely blow up in your face, creating more of a separation.
Here are a few low pressure recharging activities.
- Take a walk around the neighborhood (with or without the family dog).
- Do a dinner date outside of the house. It can be Elway’s fancy or Qdoba casual.
- Sit by a fire.
- Go for dessert or bring dessert to the house (I’m thinking Cold Stone Creamery or Yogurt Land).
- Check out that new brewery in the neighborhood.
- Play a board game or cards (never underestimate the connection that can stem from healthy competition).
- Spend a night away from home in a hotel, camping, or a cute little B&B.
- Finish a project that has been on ‘the list’ for awhile.
- Take a cooking class or a martial art class.
- Climb a 14er or smaller mountain if desired.
- Have a day in to just lounge and be together.
This is a relatively short list, so please alter and add to it as you see fit. The most important thing to remember about this list of suggestions is that everything should be done without your phone, tablet, or other device. These are activities to be completed while unplugged.
Unplugging will not instantly or magically transform your relationship. It will allow for more genuine and engaging moments to be shared between you and your partner. So…what will be your first unplugged couple experience this summer?
About the Author
Amber Groves is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and infertility specialist at The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. She helps couples, families and children to have the calm and peaceful lives they want in their relationships and family. In her spare time, she is the mother of one inquisitive toddler and a busy little baby.