In many ways, modern technology has changed the way people communicate with one another. Unlike the past when phones were not readily available and mails took weeks and sometimes months to get to their destinations, people can now get in touch with one another at the touch of a button. Text messaging, emails, instant messaging chats and social networks now generally allow for faster and more efficient communication and so help build relationships.
The implication is that in our fast-paced world where the majority of husbands and wives work and are separated throughout the day, those who desire to be constantly in touch with each other can do so without much stress. Issues that need urgent attention do not necessarily have to wait till couples are back from work in the evening (or dead of night) before they are resolved. The fire of romance with one’s spouse can be kept burning even while one is away from home.
In our time, it is quite common for career or business to take people to other parts of the country or world on a regular basis. This means leaving the home or one’s spouse for a brief period or sometimes for long periods of time. Thanks to modern technology, it is quite possible to keep marriages together in spite of long distances. Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangout and other video chat platforms give couples the next best alternative to each other’s company: the chance to see and hear each other.
In the words of Laura James, “More immediate than snail mail and more affordable than international phone calls, technology is invaluable for keeping marriages together no matter what the distance.”
Now, much as modern technology can help strengthen relationships, it also has negative impacts.
It erodes the thin line between work and home
Today, the fact that one has closed from an office no longer automatically means that one has closed from work. With the advent of computers, the Internet and cell phones, people can – and are often expected to – address work issues from home. This undoubtedly limits family interactions and sometimes causes conflict between spouses.
It erodes private boundaries
Many employ modern technology in increasing numbers to communicate with their friends, acquaintances and people unknown to them, even at odd times. So it is possible for a man or woman to be in the same room or even on the same bed with his or her spouse without necessarily ‘being there.’ Text messaging and online chats often engage the attention of some so much that they are oblivious to the fact that their spouse is sitting or lying right next to them and needs attention. A lot of those messages or chats are about issues that do not necessarily add anything to their lives and so can actually wait. In this regard, the new technology is making it more and more difficult for some to give undivided attention to their spouse.
It leads to increased expectations and conflict
With the increasing use of modern technology, people often expect an instant reply to communication from their spouse. A delayed reply – or no reply – can lead to suspicion and anger.
It sometimes provides an escape from reality
It is sometimes attractive to look for an escape route whenever there are issues in one’s marriage, instead of confronting them headlong. Unfortunately, technology offers an easy route. Dissatisfied and troubled spouses seek succour in virtual relationships. And the internet seems to offer the secrecy they desire as it allows them to make ‘faceless’ connections without the fears associated with face-to-face contact.
It can be a ready cheating tool
With modern technology, it has become much easier for those who have the tendency to cheat on their spouse to do so. It is amazing that some can exchange amorous messages with their lovers or secret admirers right under the nose of their own spouse. Cases abound of married men and women who, in search of fun on chat forums or social media platforms, met people with whom they ultimately ended up in bed.
It exposes to risky adventures
Without any doubt, it is partly the anonymity and assumed low risk that have made Internet dating and social networks popular. Some, including married men and women, have met their untimely death in the hands of people they met online or chat forums. Ironically, that seeming nice man or woman online can in reality be a monster or murderer.
It can put strictly private matters in the public domain
Status updates, tweets, posts etc which reveal moods and what is on one’s mind often tell a lot about the state of one’s marriage.
For your marriage to benefit maximally from modern technology, therefore, there is a need to set clear boundaries. Unfortunately, many are not aware of or have no regard for the rules of the game when it comes to this technology. Even where such rules do not seem to exist, I believe it is good, with the cooperation of your spouse, to determine how it should be used in your home and lives.
Without mincing words, there are some situations where the use of modern gadgets are a distraction and so should be avoided, particularly when:
i) spending time alone with your spouse or family;
ii) discussing an issue you or your spouse considers important;
iii) involved in a heated debate with your spouse;
iv) taking a leisurely walk with your spouse;
v) enjoying a romantic dinner;
vi) getting intimate or in a romantic mood;
vii) conveying a heartfelt apology; or
viii) attending a social function with your spouse.
If the call or message is so important that it cannot wait, make it snappy and let your spouse in on it.
It is important that you draw a clear line between your work and home life. This could mean switching off the smart phone or any such device and ignoring your evening emails till the following day. It is equally important that you give your partner complete attention when you interact privately and keep your gadgets away to avoid distraction. God will give you the grace to always do what you know is right.