Is Technology (Especially Texting) Ruining Your Marriage? A few etiquette rules to remember when you hear your phone chimes with a new text message—and other technology etiquette tips to save your marriage. BY DIANE GOTTSMAN
Are you and your spouse ignoring each other because of your surrounding technology?
“ The bottom line is this: your actions are much more powerful than your words.”
What does it mean to spend "quality time " with your spouse? The answer may vary depending on who you ask. There is, however, one consistent comment that I routinely continue to hear, "Technology is killing the romance." Imagine curling up next to your spouse, wanting his or her full attention to talk about the day, vacation, weekend plans or life in general while he or she sits in front of the television and plays a lively game of Scrabble on the cell phone. Like the rest of society, couples are relying more on electronic messaging to convey their thoughts, but there should be some etiquette boundaries between you, your spouse and your technology.
First of all, texting should not be your primary means of communication. While it feels great to receive a quick text in the middle of the day to let you know you are on his or her mind, if the message is longer than a tweet (140 characters), pick up the phone and call.
Another place your cell phone should be put away is at the ballpark or tennis court. "Family time" is not watching your son or daughter play a sport while you text or play a game on your cell phone. Actually, watching your son or daughter at a sporting event does not officially count as "family time" if you spend no other time together with your family—it simply becomes another sports event rather than quality time together.
Multiple distractions while texting only add further insult to the spousal relationship when you do things like texting while talking, while watching TV, while accepting incoming calls, while catching up on work that wasn't completed at the office, while playing games, while checking the sports scores and the weather.
This behavior sends a very clear message to your spouse—and kids—that they are not as important as your technology.
It might sound ridiculous, but here are a few other times to avoid texting and taking phone calls, which I’m guessing most of the people reading this article have broken:
* When involved in a heated debate with your spouse * When taking a leisurely walk with your spouse * When enjoying a romantic dinner * When having sex * When you are conveying a heartfelt apology * At your child's dance recital, baptism or wedding * When you are celebrating your anniversary * When you are relaying bad news * When you are relaying good news * When engaged in one to one conversation with your spouse * When visiting someone's house for dinner * At a movie or the theatre * At a church service * Weddings and funerals
And the list can go on and on...
I was recently at a dinner party where two adult men sat next to each other on the couch, simultaneously playing games, one on his cell phone and the other on an iPad. They were totally disengaged from the rest of the dinner party, oblivious to their surroundings and all of the efforts the host had put into making the dinner party a success. One of the wives was complaining in the kitchen while several of the other guests were visibly "put off" by their behavior—thus the incentive for this article.
The bottom line is this: your actions are much more powerful than your words. Your message is perfectly clear when you are more excited about winning a game of Scrabble on your brand new iPhone than spending time with your significant other or sharing a meal with friends.
Diane Gottsman, a nationally recognized etiquette expert, is the owner of The Protocol School of Texas, a company specializing in etiquette training for corporations, universities and individuals, striving to polish their interpersonal skills. You can reach Diane at 877-490-1077 or www.protocolschooloftexas.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @: www.twitter.com/DianeGottsman.