“The telephone is the greatest nuisance among conveniences, the greatest convenience among nuisances.” – Robert Staughton Lynd (1892-1970)
When Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, one of his goals was to keep people connected. Through his invention, in a time when traveling great distances was much harder than it is today, people could more easily keep up with family and friends who lived far away. Through the invention of the internet, the cell phone, tablets, and social media, we are now instantly connected to the entire world. But if you’re connected to everyone and everything else all the time, are you really connecting with the person sitting next to you? It’s time to take a break from the rest of the world and focus on your marriage and your spouse. The world will keep spinning, even if you aren’t watching.
IT’S HARDER THAN IT SOUNDS
Michelle and I took our first out of town trip without the baby since John Francis was born in December. I planned a quick overnight trip to Houston to go to an Astros game. Over the past couple of months, I’ve been a little too consumed with work and not as present in my marriage as I should be, so I knew planning this trip that I was going to leave my phone at home in Lake Charles.
Well as we all know, the devil’s always one step ahead, and we only made it to the end of the neighborhood before I remembered that instead of printing out the baseball tickets, I had downloaded them to an app. And instead of printing the hotel reservation, I had received it by email, which was also on my phone. So I hung my head, defeated within the first 2 minutes, and marched back inside to grab the greatest convenience that I didn’t want.
After getting past the initial defeat, my experiment was a success. I left my phone, turned off, in Michelle’s purse and only used it for the game and the hotel info…and of course, an obligatory picture so that we could remember our getaway.
I confess, however, that I had this constant nagging feeling that I was missing an email, a phone call from a current or prospective client, or the most amazing Facebook post ever posted. This tells me that I need to disconnect more often. When I’ve gotten my marriage to where I want it to be, I’ll feel that same nagging feeling any time I’m doing something away from my wife rather than when I am with her.
THE IMPACT OF SOCIAL MEDIA AND ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATION
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, LinkedIn, Google+, Snapchat, Tumbler, YouTube, Vine, WhatsApp, Pinterest, Vk, Xing, Email, RSS Feeds, and the three new social media sites that will be invented in the next 24 hours. These companies are so successful because we have an innate desire to know what our friends are up to.
The last time I went to a professional baseball game was with my dad about 20 years ago. The scene was a lot different this time. Everyone around us was on their phones the entire game. It wasn’t enough that the Astros played a great game, with several home runs and a grand slam. It wasn’t enough that these people had paid whatever amount they had paid to sit in these seats right by the field. It wasn’t enough for them to spend this time and this experience with the friends and family they came with…they had to be connected to what was going on everywhere else.
And this is true in my life just as much as I’m sure it is in yours. But when we are hyper-focused on what is happening in everyone else’s life, can we really be focused on what’s happening right next to us, in our own life? If we are allowing ourselves to be consumed by the desire to be connected with everyone and everything in the world, can we really be allowing ourselves to be consumed with affection for our spouse? Are we losing sight of what’s the most important thing in our lives…our marriage?
SURVEY SAYS…SMARTPHONES ARE RUINING RELATIONSHIPS
According to a poll conducted Brandon McDaniel of The Pennsylvania State University and Sarah Coyne of Brigham Young University in Utah, 62% of women said that technology interfered with their relationship. Whether it’s by surfing the internet or social media while spending time with your spouse, or by interrupting face-to-face conversations with them to answer or send a text, it’s clear that people are putting their phone ahead of their marriage, and this can only have negative consequences on their relationships. How can you be truly invested in your marriage, truly invested in your spouse, if you are so invested in anything else?
BE INVESTED IN YOUR MARRIAGE
I read a fantastic article the other day by Kevin A. Thompson, about what he believes it the number one cause of divorce. I won’t reveal too much because I think it’s worth the read and Kevin Thompson’s a better writer than me, so it should be read in his words. But the gist of the article is that the greatest cause of struggle in marriage is not being actively invested in the marriage. How can you be truly invested in your marriage, truly invested in your spouse, if you are 100% invested in anything else?
If we are so invested in our work that we are answering texts or emails or calls while we are away from the office and at home with our spouse, then are we actively invested in our marriage? Just as it’s important to take care of business during business hours, and to take care of it well, it’s important to take care of our marriage after hours. It’s important to invest in the feelings, hopes, and dreams of our spouse. It’s important to know their struggles and the things that have affected them during the day. It is absolutely necessary, if we want our marriage to survive, that we become fully invested in its survival, and that requires work and dedication and dying to self for the sake of another.
“The telephone is the greatest nuisance among conveniences, the greatest convenience among nuisances.” We will likely never go back to a time when the world isn’t literally at our fingertips. The convenience and the need for instant gratification are too great. But picture yourself in five years either married and holding hands somewhere with your wife, or alone on the couch with your phone in your hand, and decide which of those pictures you want to be reality. Now put down your phone and go work toward that reality.
Written By: Sean Corcoran – Lake Charles, Louisiana Family Law Attorney