Recently I saw a news article that reported statistics of how detrimental the amount of time we spend looking at screens (i.e., smartphone screens, computer screens, tablet screens) is to our face-to-face relationships. Hmm, I said. I wonder if that’s really accurate. So I started to keep watch over myself.
I took note of the intensity with which I gazed into the eyes of a friend or family member.
I rated how often I even noticed what was happening around me in real life: could I rest my eyes on something in nature, could I marvel at something another had created, could I admire something beautiful.
I discovered, much to my sorrow, that, indeed, there was almost a film over my eyes. I no longer connected strongly through eye-contact, if I made eye-contact at all.
Marriage is not all about eye contact, certainly, but oh how much we miss about this most important and beautiful of relationships if we aren’t able to really see the one we’ve married! We miss basic cues, yes, but we are also unable to communicate attentiveness and care if we can’t look long at our loved one when he or she speaks to us. We miss the satisfaction of seeing a face light up, or a sigh of relief, or the wondrous surprise at being understood.
If our eyes are glazed over by the computer’s glare, the love that is the foundation of married love becomes more and more fragile. We might become aware that we are more eager to look at our phones or return to our internet surfing than we are to show kindness, listen to a story, wait upon a troubled heart. We retreat, then, into a world that revolves around the constant stimulation of our curiosity via the all pervasive internet, and thus isolates the other person who is shut out.
So here are four things you can do to make sure this doesn’t happen to you:
1) For two days keep a log of how much time you spend on the internet or looking at your phone. Be honest. What do you discover?
2) Be intentional about making eye-contact whenever someone else speaks to you. Stop everything and direct your gaze at the one who is speaking. Silently, admire what God has created and the gifts he has given to the other person.
3) Put curfew hours. You need to come back home to the physical/spiritual world at certain hours to give quality time to your spouse and family. Use your phone only for calls during this time and shut down your computer.
4) Plan times together with your spouse that are uninterrupted dates. Only answer the phone unless it is an emergency.
by Mary Cathryn Tames