According to the Pew Research Center, nearly two-thirds of adults in the United States own a smartphone. For adults under fifty, this climbs to roughly 82 percent. However, even in the 50-64 age group, more than half have phones that are connected to the Internet. Across all owners, 46 percent say they couldn’t live without their smartphones.
With smartphones and other devices now keeping us constantly “connected,” some experts have warned that people’s personal relationships are suffering as a result. If your spouse’s love affair with constant connectivity is interfering with your marriage, their warnings may hit particularly close to home.
How Spouses Bid for One Another’s Attention
Dr. John Gottman, a nationally-recognized researcher in the fields of marital stability and relationship analysis, has popularized the concept of using “bids” for spouses to get each other’s attention. A bid is a simple, indirect attempt to engage in a discussion. For example, if you or your spouse says, “I didn’t sleep so well last night,” or, “Wow, what a beautiful day,” these are often intended as bids to share feelings and have a meaningful conversation.
Dr. Gottman says that spouses respond to bids in one of three ways. These are (i) “turning toward” the bid, (ii) “turning against” the bid, and (iii) “turning away.” Turning toward a bid involves responding positively and engaging in a conversation, while turning against means reacting negatively, and turning away means ignoring the attempt to engage.
How Connected Devices Stop Spouses from Connecting at Home
Other researchers have applied Dr. Gottman’s “bid” concept to examine the effect of mobile devices on marital relationships – and have concluded that spouses who are glued to their cell phones and tablets are more likely to either turn against or away from their partners’ bids for attention. This, according to Dr. Gottman, is a risk factor for divorce. According to Gottman’s research, spouses who get divorced after six years or less turn toward each other’s bids only 33 percent of the time, while those who remain married after six years turn toward each other at an 86 percent rate.
Fighting the Urge to Stay “Connected” at Home
If you or your spouse has trouble disconnecting at home and you want to try to make a change, experts have several suggestions. One of these involves instituting a rule that you both stay off of your phones at home. It wasn’t that long ago (remember early 2007?) that we lived in a world without ubiquitous smartphones, and experts suggest that making an effort to return to the days of old can be one of the best ways to create more time and focus for marital relations.
If you want to give it a try, experts suggest setting an example and leaving your phone at the door.
Beller & Bustamante, P.L. | Divorce Attorneys in Jacksonville, FL
Attorneys Rebeccah Beller and Mina Bustamante provide experienced legal representation for divorces and other family law matters in the greater Jacksonville area. If you are considering a divorce, or if you are concerned that your spouse may be thinking about ending your marriage, we encourage you to contact us for an initial consultation.