Let’s all be honest for a moment: Most of us are a bit addicted to scrolling through our phone. Unless we’ve made a habit of not doing so, it’s far too easy for our first action of the day to be reaching for our phone on the bedside table, or to stare at it throughout our lunch break, or to fall asleep scrolling through our Twitter feed.
But there’s nothing more annoying than when a person’s cell phone has practically become an extension of themselves, almost like a limb, and we’re forever competing with their phone for even a modicum of their attention. There’s a fine line between someone checking emails before dinner or scrolling through Instagram here and there or listening to a podcast during a workout, and being unable to even put their phone down for half an hour.
And it’s even worse if that person is your husband. So what should you do if his scrolling has gotten out of hand, and it’s become impossible to get his attention when his phone is his constant companion?
Sit Him Down and Tell Him Exactly What You’re Feeling
Chances are, he’s not fully aware of how far he’s gone with his phone obsession — if picking up his phone and opening up his social media has become so second nature to him that he doesn’t even notice he’s doing it, then he won’t be able to see how unhealthy his obsession has gotten.
Allot some time to sit down with him and let him know that you’ve noticed he’s been on his phone a lot more lately, and it’s been frustrating for him to be lost in his phone when you’d prefer to have his attention.
Help him understand what it feels like for you when he picks up his phone in the middle of your story at dinner, or when he scrolls on the couch next to you instead of paying attention to that new episode of Stranger Things, or when he’s always listening to a podcast when you’re home together — whether you feel dismissed, unimportant, disrespected, or forgotten.
Help him understand what you feel like when he picks up his phone: dismissed, forgotten, disrespected.
Be careful not to get accusatory when expressing this, instead thinking of it as just letting him in on what’s been going on for you: “I know this isn’t your intention, but when you pick up your phone to check your Instagram notifications instead of listening to what I’m talking about, it makes me feel dismissed.”
Try To Identify What’s Causing His Phone Addiction
We don’t all become addicted to our phone for the same reason. Some get obsessed with hopping on social media, counting every new like and follower they get. Others get a little too used to mindlessly scrolling. Many can hardly put it down because they’re constantly getting new work emails they feel the need to tend to.
As you talk to your husband, it’s best to try to pinpoint where this unhealthy attachment comes from. Is it due to his own lack of self-control and self-awareness, or does he feel constant pressure to be available to his boss? This can help us extend empathy and express concerns that are tailored to his particular situation.
Suggest That You Get out of the House Together
Being stuck in a day-to-day rut of getting up, going to work, getting home, and going to sleep — and doing it all over again the next day — makes it much easier to get stuck in a rut of looking at our phone far more often than we should. After all, it’s a simple way to feel like we’re connected to the outside world without even having to get up from the couch or the desk.
If your husband hasn’t been getting out lately, suggest taking a walk after dinner, going for a drive around a pretty neighborhood, or spending Saturday afternoon at the park. Come up with a way to shake up his routine and get him out of the house. It’s more difficult to pull out our phone when we’re sitting by a beautiful lake than when we’re lying on the couch at home.
Designate a Time of Day That’s Phone-Free
Telling him why you’re concerned about his phone usage is a good start, but we can’t just stop there. His phone has become a habit that’s going to be incredibly difficult to break if he doesn’t have specific intentions regarding how he’ll break it.
If he’s really struggling with not picking up his phone even after you mentioned your concerns, suggest that you both come up with a time of day that’s totally phone-free. Maybe having some time in the morning together to wake up, talk, and start the day off right is important to you, or maybe reconnecting over dinner at the end of a long day is what you value most.
Leave your phones in another room and focus on being present for one another.
Designate a timeframe that you’ll both leave your phones in another room and focus on being present for one another, according to what would make sense for your relationship’s unique needs.
Plan a Weekend Trip with Limited Phone Access
If your schedule and budget allow it, take things a step further — plan a weekend trip where you’ll both only use your phone for 10 minutes each day, checking emails and replying to important texts, but not doing anything that isn’t essential or time-sensitive.
Fill up the day with a fun adventure, a hike, a swim, dinner, a movie, or window shopping, helping him see how freeing it can be to function without a phone in his hand at all times.
It’s no fun to have to compete with your husband’s phone for his attention. Try to express concern and set boundaries around phone usage, while also remaining empathetic and sticking to your own phone rules.
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