We welcome Scott Means back to share on our monthly series on marriage. You can read last months post by Brad Aldrich here.
You will have the opportunity to hear both the Aldrich's and the Means at HOPE AT HOME 2012. Registration is now open-- we'd love for you to join us. If you would like to have people stand with you in prayer and faith as a parent and be filled with a renewed sense of who God is and what He alone can do in your family, then this is the conference for you!
My inspiration for this post came from a blog post that my wife, Jenni, recently put on her Facebook wall, How to Miss a Childhood from the Hands Free Mama blog. This fabulous post addresses the reality that too many of us are often more connected to our cell phones and computers than we are to the real relationships in our lives. The author, Rachel Stafford, encourages her readers to hang up their phones and go “hands free” where their kids are concerned; to instead grasp what really matters.
Jenni, my wife, was quick to point out that the same holds true for marriage.
As a marriage writer and blogger (I blog at Journey to Surrender) I feel a significant pressure to maintain my online presence in order to better ensure “success” in the blogosphere. There is some well-known advice for how to build readership and to increase your following as a writer: post on your blog at least twice a week, engage your Twitter followers daily, keep your Facebook page active and interesting, read and comment on other blogs, and do as much guest-posting as you can on related blogs.
On top of trying to do all this, I also have to keep up with my personal email, Facebook and Twitter activities. In addition, I happen to keep my calendar, to do list, budget and daily devotional readings on my phone. And of course there is the occasional Words With Friends or Sudoku game.
Do a Screen Audit
Since reading the hands-free article above, I have been much more aware of how I have slowly been sucked into an electronic vortex. A substantial portion of my waking hours is consumed with writing, social media and other activities associated with my blog life as well as my personal life. Between my phone and computer my hands and my gaze are constantly engaged with some type of screen.
My wife and I were amazed to discover how often we immediately and instinctively grab for our phones during every free minute, seeking out that latest Instragram photo, Facebook post, tweet or next game move. So we made a decision to be much more deliberate about being “hands-free” in our marriage. We’ve realized that instead of holding, gazing on and engaging with our phones during our time together, we can actually do the same with each other. We are now much more aware of how many opportunities we have missed to connect with each other.
The next time you are riding in the car together, instead of picking up your phone, spend that time getting caught up on your day. Ask each other meaningful questions. Heck, even talking about the weather is better than idly passing time texting or playing a game of Plants vs. Zombies!
Waiting for a table at a restaurant? Pocket those phones and hold hands instead. Whisper sweet nothings to each other. When your table is ready, keep the phones out of sight and gaze longingly into each other’s eyes. Talk about your future; reminisce about the past. Engage!
If your bedtime routine includes scrolling through your phone to check your email or catch up on Facebook, think instead about how you might better put your hands to use. If you were to go hands-free at bedtime and instead give each other your full attention, perhaps you would find the opportunity for a little more marital hands-on [wink].
Virtual vs. Real Intimacy
I often say that intimacy comes from being fully known and yet completely loved. When we consistently hide behind our cell phones and computer screens, even if we are virtually engaging with hundreds through social media, it can actually stand in the way of the interpersonal interaction that builds intimacy in your marriage. Since being more intentional this past week about putting down our phones, Jenni and I have actually experienced a noticeable increase in intimacy. By purposefully disconnecting from our virtual lives, we’ve noticed that we are better connected to each other.
I encourage you to spend the next week being acutely aware of how much time you spend with your attention focused on the screens in your life. Make a concerted effort to hang up, turn off and unplug from your electronic gizmos and use the time you gain to focus on your spouse. I can almost guarantee that you’ll sense more intimacy in your marriage as a result.