Overcoming Distractions in Marriage: Technology

The next time you’re eating out, look around the restaurant to see how many couples and families have their phones out.  Most of us have been guilty of bringing our phones to the table at one time or another.

As great as technology can be, left unchecked, it can become an insidious distraction in many of our families and marriages. Here are a couple of challenges technology can create and some suggestions on how to overcome them.

Technology can easily disrupt our conversations, fragment our consciousness, and make us physically and mentally unavailable to connect with our spouse and our children.  A recent study conducted at the University of Illinois and published in the Journal of Family Psychology, examined 109 families’ dinnertime routines.  Researchers observed that when families gathered for dinner at night, they spent nearly half of their time distracted by electronic devices, toys, and tasks that took them physically and mentally away from the table. 

Technology distractions include texting, internet shopping and searching, laptops, iPads, smartphones, TV and smart devices that stream digital content, and video gaming.

God can certainly use technology for good in our lives; however, if we aren’t careful technology can become a distraction that gets in the way of the fuller (better) life Jesus promised us (
John 10:10b).  God tells us that self-control, or discipline, is one of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).  We should allow the Holy Spirit to work within us to help us regulate our time spent with technology.  Here are several suggestions for managing technology and its potential to distract us from our spouses and our children.


1. Make meals a ‘technology-free zone.’ 

Regardless of whether you are dining at home or in a restaurant, as a couple or family, make a habit of leaving smartphones in the car or another room. Without your technology in-sight you won’t be tempted to look at it, respond to phone calls, or text messages. Creating a boundary around the short time that you’re dining together is a great first step in creating intentional space for communicating with each other. Share the events of your day. Talk about your calendars, upcoming events, or weekend plans. Talk about anything – just talk without the distraction of technology.

2. Create barriers between work and leisure time. 

Today, more than ever, it is particularly difficult for many working spouses to unplug from work.  Text messages and emails represent a clear and present threat to our leisure time – particularly if you’re connected to your office through technology.  Make it a rule that when you are home, and off the clock, that you will set aside work distractions and leave texts and emails unanswered until the next working morning.  At the least, if your position requires that you remain somewhat connected to work, schedule work with specific start and end times in fairness to your spouse and family.

3. Limit time spent video gaming. 

Video game addiction can be a serious disorder and experts believe the signs and symptoms mimic other addictive compulsive disorders like pornography, exercise and sex addictions. Earlier in my marriage, I spent several years seriously addicted to online video gaming. This distraction can be overcome through self-discipline, prayer, and the help of the Holy Spirit. Take control of this distraction by creating limits around how much time is spent ‘online.’ Set daily and weekly limits as to when, and how long, gameplay occurs. 

4. Establish limits on ‘binge watching’ digital content. 

My wife and I have been guilty of binge watching several popular shows over the past few years. While this may seem like a harmless ‘guilty pleasure,’ it can gobble up huge amounts of time spent actively doing things together (like taking a walk) with your spouse or your children. Binge watching before bedtime can also affect your sleep – both time and quality.

5. Make the bedroom a technology free zone.

Several years ago, we removed the television from our bedroom. Bringing technology into the bedroom can impact a couple’s ability to connect both emotionally and physically. Who want’s that?  But television isn’t the only bedroom distraction. Consider leaving your phone(s) in another room, or create privacy settings on your phone to limit notifications between sleeping hours, and don’t check your phone throughout the night if you wake up.

What other ways can you create intentional, technology free, distraction free time with your spouse?

Talk about limiting technology distractions with your spouse and share with each other your expectations for technology in your marriage and your family.  Another suggestion is to check out the
RE|ENGAGE program at ALIVE.  Couples attending re|engage learn ways to balance distractions, purposefully connect, communicate more effectively, and conflict in a more productive manner.  You are invited to check out the program the first Wednesday of each month at the Central Campus.