Smartphone and social media addiction has become the other partner in many relationships. It’s the enemy of authentic love that gradually dries up intimacy and connection in many marriages. Cape Town-based divorce and family law attorney, Bertus Preller published the top 10 reasons why marriages are dissolved in South Africa back in 2012 based on records of divorce actions instituted in 2011.
“Addiction” in that study was number five, and “social networks” was in fourth place. He broadened his explanation of addiction beyond just drugs and substance abuse to include internet as an enabler of pornography.
We were quite perturbed, though not surprised, that smartphone and social media addiction, which was still an emerging trend back then, could already be officially cited in court papers as reasons for divorce and particularly ranked as fourth out of 10 reasons already then.
The devastation in the eyes of frustrated partners we seat with during our coaching sessions around smartphone and social media addiction is too sad to articulate. We compiled a list of some tell-tale signs that you or your spouse may be addicted:
The mere presence of a cell phone during an exchange has been proven to negatively impact connection, authenticity, quality of conversation, and closeness in romantic relationships.
You can imagine the detrimental effects smartphone and social media addiction has on human relationships. We’re aware of partners in relationships that get so frustrated with the other that they consciously want nothing to do with social media.
If you’re feeling worried, neglected, or depressed over your spouse’s smartphone addiction, it’s time to address the matter head on. Just like helping someone with a drug addiction, it won’t be easy for them to even acknowledge they have a smartphone and social media addiction problem. Chances are, you’ve already confronted your spouse many times about this to no avail. Addicted individuals often respond in a defensive manner when confronted, which is counterproductive to the recovery process.
Communicate in an empathetic and non-judgmental manner how your spouse’s addiction is affecting you and your relationship. While in it, refocus them back into why you married them and the purpose of marriage altogether. Emphasise on your spouse’s positive qualities that are apparent without smartphone use. This will help minimize chances of them being defensive and feeling criticized. You may also commit to a number of self-regulation methods like setting time periods in which smartphone use is forbidden and committing to overnight charging your phones in a different room than your bedroom.
Overall, it’s important to remember that you must foster a loving and caring environment if you would like your spouse to respond positively. This kind of environment will create trust moving forward.
The spouse that spends countless hours on their smartphone and social media at the expense of valuable personal interaction, creates a permanent disconnect that’s difficult to repair. And it has unintended consequences like rejection, abandonment, jealousy, competition, bitterness and loneliness. The lack of trust smartphone and social media addiction causes is easily capable of even leading to the dissolution of the relationship.