In the 21st century, technology has become an integral part of our daily lives, offering convenience and connectivity. However, the ease that comes with using our devices also brings challenges, especially when it comes to nurturing the most important relationships, such as our marriages. As we delve into the intricacies of Christian marriage, let’s explore the concept of maximizing moments and managing technology.
“So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
~Psalm 90:12 (ESV)
When Tech Becomes Habit
A recent poll revealed a startling statistic: the average adult in the United States will spend the equivalent of 44 years of their life staring at a screen.
Average Daily Screen Time for US Adults:
- Smartphone Usage: 4.5 hours per day
- Television Screen Time: 4.5 hours per day
- Laptop Usage: 5 hours per day
- Gaming Device Time: 3 hours per day
While technology is meant to serve us, it often takes control, replacing valuable face-to-face time with our spouses and families. Finding balance is essential.
The Problem of Technoference
Enter “technoference,” a term coined to describe the interference technology imposes on face-to-face interactions. Picture a scenario at a restaurant where, instead of engaging in conversation while waiting for the order, both partners reach for their phones. Sadly, this likely reflects a reality faced by 81 percent of Americans who own smartphones.
Technoference and Your Marriage
Dr. David Schramm, a Family Life Specialist at Utah State University, delved into the impact of technology in the most intimate spaces for interaction. According to the survey respondents:
- 62 percent acknowledged technology as a significant issue in their families
- 43 percent reported that their spouses use tech in bed regularly
- 25 percent believed it interfered with their sexual relationship
- 59 percent felt their spouses were excessively on their cell phones
- 70 percent perceived technology as a disruption to family time
- 45 percent identified it as a substantial issue in their marriages.
In light of the survey findings, Dr. Schramm puts forth a straightforward yet profound recommendation: prioritize communication by talking more, reducing phone usage, and being fully present in the moment.
To support this idea, he has championed two initiatives for couples:
- “Kick Technology Out of Bed” emphasizes making the bedroom a screen-free sanctuary.
- “Kick Technology Off of the Table” encourages couples to establish a no-screen zone at the dining table, traditionally reserved for intimacy and interaction.
Tech-Wise Commitments for Christian Marriages
Andy Crouch’s book “The Tech-Wise Family” provides valuable insights for navigating technology within Christian marriages. Five key commitments stand out:
- Rhythm of Work and Rest: Establish intentional, distraction-free face-to-face time daily, weekly, and annually, mirroring God’s design for work and rest.
- Purposeful Screen Use: Use screens with a purpose; discourage substituting screen time for boredom by planning alternative activities such as reading a great book, playing a board game, starting a craft or hobby, visiting a neighbor, experimenting in the kitchen, or exercising.
- Car Time is Conversation Time: According to Sherry Turkle’s book Reclaiming Conversation, meaningful conversations typically take at least seven minutes to occur. In the initial moments, we often cover routine topics like weather, daily updates, and schedule changes. However, around the seven-minute mark, conversations tend to deepen. Let’s commit to utilizing car time intentionally, breaking through the seven-minute barrier to foster more meaningful connections.
- Transparency in Online Activities: It’s crucial for spouses to share passwords and for parents to maintain total access to their children’s devices. The internet poses risks, notably from predators and explicit content. Recognizing our vulnerability, especially considering that 30 percent of internet traffic involves pornography, emphasizes the wisdom of accountability in our online activities.
- Show Up for Life’s Big Moments: In life’s significant moments, it is essential to be physically present. Often, we become programmed to reach for our smartphones from morning to night, creating an artificial disconnection from reality. Real life is continuous, not subject to on-and-off switches, and genuine love manifests through consistent presence. The call is to invest our time in meaningful connections with one another, making intentional choices rather than letting technology dictate our relationships.
In the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), we are reminded to steward everything God has given us, including our marriages. Without proper boundaries, technology can steal precious moments and hinder the multiplication of blessings in our lives. Today, let’s commit to taming our tech habits, increasing face-to-face communication, and living a genuinely connected life in a digitally disconnected world. May our marriages thrive as we maximize our moments and wisely manage our tech.
DREAMarriage is a ministry called by God to encourage, equip, and empower husbands and wives to enjoy an abundance of true love found only in the sacred marriage covenant.