Speaking Point: Through the 30 plus years of coaching and counseling couples, I have always been in wonder of the ever changing dynamics of issues that are concerning couples of that era. Issues of infidelity with other people, alcohol use, finances (that’s always been a biggie), and the kids are all examples of the" tried and true" concerns people wind up having to confront as they work to have a healthy, lasting relationship.
In today's era, these issues are only complicated by the growing technological nature of the world we live in. Work has become a 24-hour accessible experience. Technology allows us to be in contact and stay in contact every moment we will allow for. So what does this have to do with couples and relationships today? Let me try to explain...
Speaking Point: There are some days during my work week that I see 9 couples in my office a day, each for an hour of couples counseling where I attempt to help coach them through their concerns. And... 9 out of 9 times, one or both of my guests have their cell phone implanted into their hand, cemented so firmly that I keep a welding gun in the top drawer of my desk just in case we can't get it unattached. And... at least 7 of those 9 sessions... these words are uttered by one of my guests..."WILL YOU TURN THAT THING OFF, FOR GOD'S SAKE?"
Speaking Point: In 2010, CBS reported that by 2011, there would be over 5 billion mobile subscriptions in force in the world. Recently, OfCom Research revealed that users are engaged in over 8 hours of media time on their handheld devices per day. And research indicates that today’s couple spends on the average of only 2 1/2 hours per day with their significant others. Ok, lets see what happens if we put all this information together. The typical adult is awake 17 hours a day, at work for 9 of them which leaves 8 hours left for personal time. The average adult uses his/her cell phone for over 8 hours a day; and of that 8 hours, spends 2 1/2 with their partner. What’s wrong with this picture?
Speaking Point: Relationships need focus and time and attention. Each person in a relationship needs to know that there is one person on this planet that values them enough to get up each day with the priority of making them feel special. The cell phone has become the proverbial "other woman" or the lopsided attention that some parents give to their kids, at the expense of their relationship. When the priority of waiting for an email or phone call, texting someone else other than who you are in front of, or checking the Internet for your favorite teams updated score, is greater than giving your full attention to the person you say you love, something is dangerously wrong.
Speaking Point: Dangerous... yes, dangerous! Why? Because relationships, like all living things, need to be nourished and nurtured and given full attention or they die. You cannot succeed in having your partner feel special by your efforts when you are talking to them while looking into the palm of your hand. Emotional intimacy requires eye contact, physical touch (not just sexual) and a strong willingness to show up and be present to the moment you are in. And you cannot be in two moments at the same time. When you touch your Blackberry more than you touch your lover, something is seriously wrong.
Speaking Point: Love is the "willful act of sacrifice" of one person for the other. The operative word here is "willful" not sacrifice! Each member of the couple-hood must willfully choose to show up to the moment and give effort. Not because they are told to, but because they choose to. You must choose to put down your phone and pick up her/his hand! The world is moving faster everyday, and there will be a new electronic device or something that will be woven into our daily lives. Each of us must create all the boundaries necessary to protect the relationship we are in from the temptations around us. We don’t play with others when we are committed to playing with our partner. Fidelity comes in all forms today.
Speaking Point: So put down your phone for those two and a half hours a day and pick up your partners hand, look them in the eyes and stay in the moment that is private to the two of you. And at the very least… as is said in my office everyday by someone... "WILL YOU TURN THAT THING OFF, FOR GOD'S SAKE!!!!