What would our lives be like without technology? If we needed directions somewhere, we’d have to find a physical map. If the power went out, we’d have to go searching through cupboards to find a flashlight. If we wanted to know the difference between an alligator and a crocodile, we’d have to go to the library and do some research. Technology has made our lives significantly easier and it can make our relationships better if we know how to leverage it.

Leaving bad habits behind can help, too. Spending too much time on our phone when a spouse needs us to be present can mean missing great moments or feeling less connected. But when used intentionally, technology can help us find new ways to build more meaningful relationships. In fact, research has shown that technology can help couples manage conflict better, communicate better, and feel closer to one another.

Here are five ideas for using technology to strengthen your relationship with your special someone this year:

Send Short Love Notes

Technology is a wonderful way to keep in touch when you have to be away from your spouse all day. Sending an “I miss you” text only takes seconds but can create long-lasting positive feelings. Time your texts well so they reach your spouse when they have time to savor them, such as over a lunch hour. Like those love notes you used to handwrite, sending and receiving sweet personalized texts can create those same kinds of positive feelings.

Also, technology provides us with a way to laugh together even when we can’t be together. Maybe some of your texts while they are gone include an inside joke or messages, pictures, or videos that will provoke a shared chuckle. Sending funny things to your spouse not only gives you both the opportunity to laugh together but also shows your spouse that you are thinking of and hoping to make him or her smile. The marvelous research finding about sending “love note” texts is that while it does benefit the receiver, sending the love text can increase relationship satisfaction even more for the sender.

When You are Together, Engage in Technology Together

Using technology separately while physically together can sometimes cause conflict. If a wife wants to tell her husband about her day but he’s too invested in watching the trailer for the latest hit move, she will feel neglected. If the husband learns that a close best friend just got engaged as he’s scrolling on Facebook, but I’m too invested in my own Instagram posting to rejoice with him, he will feel ignored. How do you fix this problem? Look for ways to use technology together.

Couples who use technology together can feel more connected in their relationship. For example, couples can watch TV together at the end of a long day. They can scroll through Instagram laughing at funny memes together. They can create videos on TikTok, watch YouTube, or create tweets together. These tech shares can be a springboard to great conversations and memorable time spent together. Fortunately, there are a multitude of options to explore for ways to engage in technology use together that can result in sharing laughter and spending quality time together.

Follow Each Other on Social Media

Apart from the typical calling and texting to stay connected, a fun way to be involved in your spouse’s life is to comment on and “like” his or her posts. This can give you an opportunity to support your spouse by showing that you appreciate the things your spouse shares. In this way,  you can play an active role in his or her life both online and off.

For example, try posting to celebrate your spouse’s birthdays, anniversaries, or other accomplishments. Send flowers for a special occasion, but also be sure to proclaim your love for your wife on Facebook. Wish your husband happy birthday on Instagram with a meaningful collage of pictures to show him and all your interested friends that you’ve enjoyed many wonderful moments with him. Find ways to celebrate the small ordinary moments of life that show how much you value your everyday life together.

To be most effective, be sensitive to what kinds of postings will benefit and stay away from anything that might embarrass them online. If it’s embarrassing to your spouse when you brag about them on social media, this nice intention might be more likely to backfire. If your spouse doesn’t have an Instagram or Facebook account so you can’t wish them happy birthday in a place they would see it, don’t forget to write and deliver a meaningful card.

Set Yourself Reminders For Sending Encouraging Words

Technology can be used to send messages conveying support at key moments. If your spouse has an important event coming up, you can set a reminder on your phone to be sure to send encouraging words right when your spouse may be needing them the most. Gary Chapman, author of the best-selling novel, The Five Love Languages, lists encouragement as one of the love languages, stating that “one of the most effective ways to help your spouse is to offer encouraging words.” Especially if this is a love language for your spouse, you can do it in person, but a well-worded email or text can also do the trick.

Your well-timed words can help him or her to feel less nervous or more confident. A message like “Good luck in your job interview!” or “Your presentation is going to be fantastic!” can show your spouse that you are aware of the important things going on in his or her life. These words are just one more way to show your spouse that their success is important to you too and that you are always there to back them up and share great moments.

Know When to Set Your Phone Down

Couples who use tech to their advantage know that sometimes phones and other tech can get in the way of relationships—so they have decided together what the tech culture of their marriage looks like. They set boundaries about when phones are welcome and when they are not, and then respect the lines they’ve drawn. One couple finds it very relaxing at the end of the day to sit next to each other on the couch just catch up on the things they’ve missed on social media, occasionally showing each other posts that we think are funny or interesting. However, they’ve also agreed that during dinner phones are off-limits to promote more meaningful conversations together. If an urgent call comes up during these protected times, they check before answering to make sure the spouse feels acknowledged and consulted. Clear boundaries add respect to the relationship and remind the spouse that they are more important than other commitments or the non-urgent notification.

Wisdom and experience also can help couples to recognize that some topics of conversation—especially about tricky or sensitive issues—need to be handled in a face-to-face interaction and are off limits for discussion via technology. For example, issues related to financial difficulties, relationship problems, or major decisions benefit from the richer interaction possible when a couple is together. It can be hard to convey tone over text, emails don’t allow a rapid back-and forth discussion to clarify ideas, and even a quick phone conversation misses the body language that could help problems be solved without miscommunication or misunderstandings. Physical touch during hard conversations can soothe a partner, so be intentional and be together when needed to make the most of your problem-solving moments, setting aside some “phone-free” zones or times. Knowing when to opt in and when to opt out makes the time with technology even more meaningful for building strong relationships.

Before we had sophisticated technology, couples got to speak to each other in the morning before work and at the end of the day before bed. In today’s world, the effort it takes to make a romantic gesture is far more available, simple, quick, and inexpensive. In sum, we have more ways to say “I love you” than ever before. So, go ahead, take advantage and find a way to make your spouse’s day.

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