Don’t let technology ruin your marriage

By Susan Vogt
Marriage has been around for a long time, but just as there are new perils from modern technology, we can use these same tools to strengthen it. First the perils. Did you know that:
• 30 percent of married people deceptively use online dating sites.
• Pornography is more accessible than ever through the internet.
• Using a computer or surfing the net – even for valid purposes – can rob a couple of valuable face time and create an internet widow(er).
BUT, did you also know that:
• 70 percent of couples who both own cell phones, contact each other once a day or more, compared to 54 percent of couples who have only one or no cell phone.
• Telecommuting allows some spouses to work at home – at least some of the time – thus easing the struggle to balance work and home responsibilities.
• Purchases, errands, and research that used to take a lot of time driving around town to do can now be done electronically thus saving time that can be spent loving each other better and caring for our neighbors.
With technology bringing us such a mixed bag, take time to evaluate how you use the new tools that are now available. Here’s a self-assessment inventory to get you started.
Cell phones
1. Do we use cell phones primarily for:
• Safety – Help, the car just broke down.
• Convenience – Honey, would you pick up some toilet paper on the way home.
• Connecting – Just want you to know I’m thinking of you while on this Hawaiian business trip
• Information – Where is the nearest gas station?
• Business – I’ll be arriving at your home to fix the refrigerator in the next 20 minutes.
2. Are we happy with the way we use your cell phone(s)?
3. Do we practice cell phone courtesy, i.e., not answering a call when talking to someone in person, silencing the phone when in a meeting, church, or public event, not annoying others on public transportation?
4. Do we practice cell phone safety, i.e., not talking or texting while driving?
5. Are we happy with the amount of money we spend on cell phone service?
Computers, the internet
1. Are we satisfied with the location of the computer(s) in our home and the amount of time that each of us spends on the computer?
2. How has the computer/internet been a benefit to our relationship? Has it ever been a bone of contention?
3. What do we consider appropriate or inappropriate computer/internet use? Are chat rooms OK? If an old girl/boy friend ever contacted one of us, how should we handle it? Are computer games stealing time from our relationship? Are any sites off limits?
4. Trusting relationships are built on transparency. Do we know each other’s user name and passwords for various accounts? Do we have an understanding that it would be fine for either spouse to browse through the other’s computer?
5. Some couples use a photo of their spouse or family as a screen saver at work. Not only does this remind you of each other while you are apart but makes it clear to co-workers that you value marriage.
6. Just as families often stay connected by using services like Skype to communicate with far-flung children or parents, so spouses can Skype each other when on business trips.
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