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Couples Should Unfriend Each Other To Have A More Fulfilling Relationship

Couples Should Unfriend Each Other To Have A More Fulfilling Relationship

What is the best way for couples to stay close to each other? Talk to each other. Not through Facebook or Instagram or texting, but through face to face communication.

Those are the words of Ian Kerner, a counsellor who specializes in couples and sexual counselling. In an interview with Public Radio International (PRI), Kerner talked about how technology like Facebook and Instagram are posing real issues with relationships, and that a great way to handle it is to turn that all off.

Tuning Out

Kerner observed that couples frequently hold side-by-side conversations with their cell phones and laptops, and that “they’re not having direct face-to-face conversations because they’re also on an iPhone or a gadget, so they’re partially vacated.” Often, the only time where the couples actually have a face to face conversation was when they were speaking with Kerner at therapy.

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Kener said that studies show that even the mere presence of a technological device nearby, even if it is off or silent, can change the texture of a conversation. It distracts people and thus worsens relationships as couples worry that they are not being listened to.

Kerner does not think technology inherently hurts relationships. In the interview, he mentions one couple who used video games like Minecraft and Nintendo titles to bond as an example that technology can sometimes be used for good relationships. The Pew Research Center found that 21 percent of cell owners or internet users in a committed relationship “have felt closer to their spouse or partner because of exchanges they had online or via text message”. In addition, 74 percent of couples reported that the Internet had a mostly positive effect on their relationship with just 20 percent claiming a mostly negative effect.

One of the key aspects to understanding how technology can hurt relationships is something which Kerner calls “technological compatibility.” If a wife loves to be on Instagram and Facebook all the time, but the husband is more old-fashioned and only really uses the Internet for work-related purposes, then this can raise tensions.

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One example which Kerner cited was a family where the wife used Instagram to show photos of absolutely everything, whether friends, special events, or day to day life., against the advice of home security companies When the family went on vacation and got ice cream, she then started trying to get everyone in a proper position to photograph the family with their ice cream.

The husband, who just wanted to eat the ice cream, snapped in public. He caused a scene, cursing her out in front of the children “about just wanting to eat his [bleeping] ice cream.” It was fundamentally a difference between a wife who was happy to use technology all the time and a husband who was less comfortable with the idea. Kerner noted that he has seen other instances where the husband does not want to be on Facebook or have his kids to have a Facebook account, which invites further acrimony.

Further Research

Lisa Pollack of the Financial Times pointed out another issue of technological compatibility. Another Pew Research Center poll showed that 62 percent of individuals believed that using your cell phone at a restaurant is not okay. But this means that 38 percent of individuals believe that using your cell phone at a restaurant is okay. So when someone from the 38 percent goes on a date at a restaurant with someone from the 62 percent, that one issue can seriously damage a relationship.

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So how can couples actually fix this problem? Kerner believes that the best thing a couple can do is to go on a “digital diet” and use that time gained to start repairing relationships. He also observed that spending some time away of those devices could improve one’s sexual life as well.

“People go to bed too tired to make love… And yet they’re spending hours a day on social media, on blogs and on Netflix. Maybe we really need to figure out how to turn off that faucet.”

So unfriend your partner, close the computer, and go outside with him or her. If that makes for a better relationship, it will certainly be worth it.

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Featured photo credit: woodleywonderworks via flickr.com

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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