No, this is not one of those silly online surveys.
I’m not asking you to own up to any secret crushes, or fantasies of pre-commitment days.
Nor am I asking you to start worrying about your partner’s time away from you. Or why he or she smiled so sweetly at that good looking woman or man.
But I am asking you to think about something that pulls you away from, and puts distance between you and your partner.
You jump when it calls you.
It disrupts your conversation.
It interrupts your dinner.
It distracts you when you are driving.
It holds you transfixed in its power, sometimes for hours.
You feel you cannot live without it.
You’ll do anything to tend to its needs.
You are at its beck and call.
It tears you away from anything you are doing.
You drop anything you are doing to tend to it.
It follows you on vacation.
It follows you everywhere. Even into the bathroom.
You are practically its slave.
And no, its not your child(ren).
So what does a smartphone have to do with fidelity?
Let me explain…
Love and commitment are at the heart of every marriage/common law/serious relationship.
There is an understanding that you are there for each other, that you can trust each other, that you communicate openly and honestly with each other.
And that you give each other your full presence and attention when you are together.
Once children arrive on the scene, it becomes infinitely more challenging to follow through on that understanding. Babies consume your time and energy, and your heart. While they bring you closer because of your shared love for your baby, partners (especially Dads) can feel misplaced.
Being in a long term committed relationship with kids, it can be hard to find the time to give your partner your full presence and attention.
Yet giving your full presence and attention is what is needed, even if its for five minutes at a time, to keep the communication open and flowing.
And keeping the communication open and flowing makes the arrival of children a relationship builder, not a relationship destroyer.
BUT – for more and more couples, that precious connection time is taking a backseat to the “precious” smartphone. We allow it into our lives and allow it to distract us from everything.
We risk the lives of ourselves, our children and others, to answer the phone call or the email/text notification when we are driving.
The absolute statistically greatest cause of traffic accidents is Distracted Driving.
And the use of electronic devices tops the list for distracted driving offenses. It even outranks tending to children!
We also put our relationships at risk by feeling compelled to answer the phone call or email/text notification when we are engaged with our partners.
I would venture to guess that “Distracted Relating” will soon prove to be a significant cause of relationship breakdown.
Distracted Relating is a form of “infidelity”.
Being a slave to your smartphone notifications gives your partner the message that “Yes you are important but… my Facebook friend, neighbour, text message… fill in the blank… is MORE important than you, and that’s who I really want to be with.”
According to relationship counsellor Allysa Seigel,
“infidelity is any action that violates an implicit or explicit agreement between two people, thereby undermining the relationship. The action may be physical or emotional in nature.”
From my perspective, allowing all those really meaningless, or low meaningful interruptions to take precedence over focused time with your partner, violates the agreement you have to nourish your relationship.
So what can be done to address this?
Take the Valentine’s Day Infidelity challenge:
On Valentine’s Day, when you and your partner are together. TURN OFF YOUR SMARTPHONE(s) FOR TWO HOURS!!!! (Shutting off your smartphone while you are sleeping doesn’t count but you get bonus points if you do).
Yes, shut it off.
See how you do. See if you feel like you are in “withdrawal”. See how it impacts the time the two of you spend together. (See how it impacts the time you spend with your kids too!)
Not sure what to do without your smartphone turned on? It really doesn’t matter. Just being with each other without it “between you” will be an experience in itself (and that’s a real turn on!)
But one thing I do recommend is to take the time to look into each other’s eyes, and remember how much you love each other. (I wrote about ‘How to rekindle the romance after having kids’ in this blogpost)
Allow yourself to let the love resurface through all the tiredness, chaos and disruptions of parenting – without the electronic distractions.
You chose to become a couple and to have children together.
Don’t allow your smartphone to be a relationship disrupter.
Remember that you are each, each other’s Valentine.
Happy Valentine’s Day!