Photo Credit (Text Mine)
My husband loves it when I say irritating things like this:
“Oooobviouslyyyy you love your phooooone more than you love meeeee.”
I love it when he says annoying things like this:
“Maybe your ears would work better if your eyes weren’t plastered to your phone.”
Yeah, some days we have a phone problem. Some mornings our eyes are still blurry with sleep, and instead of smooching each other and inhaling that aromatic morning breath, we fumble around for our phones. To be fair to me, I’m just looking to see what time it is…and get distracted…forever. He, on the other hand, is probably doing something utterly pointless, like checking the weather.
Some times we’re driving down the road and I’m ignoring a van full of totally tubular people (my slang is stuck in the 80s) with my face in the phone because I have to know. Know what? Absolutely nothing of importance, but my behavior tells my family that the current nothing of importance is more important than they are.
It’s time to stop.
When my husband first planted that smart phone in my hand, I wrote out a printable decree. Here it is:
My Cell Phone Decree
- This phone is now and will forever remain merely an electronic device, not an appendage or extra bodily organ.
- This phone has no ring finger and no wedding ring, so it will not usurp the one who does wear the ring.
- This phone came out of a box, not out of my womb, and it will be treated accordingly.
- This phone will be set face down, silenced, or turned off when real eyes seek mine.
- Because this phone receives its meals in a charging station, it will not be welcomed at the family dinner table.
- Because this phone does not speak properly, it will not be involved in any family conversations, except when invited with these words: “I don’t know; let’s look that up,” or “That’s a good question; let’s call Grandma.”
- This phone will be put away before bed; all drool will be reserved for my own or my husband’s pillow, not for electronic devices.
- This phone may be used for Bible reading, but only if Bible time is not interrupted by Facebook, texts, bleeps, beeps, or any other non-human sound.
- When in public with me, this phone will not keep me from looking into someone else’s face.
- Ultimately, this phone is just a phone, and it will never come between me and another human being. Ever.
And I broke the decree.
To be fair, I didn’t break all of the points. I never broke number fo–, um, thr–, oh…hmmm…I never broke number eig–. Blast. I didn’t break number 11, okay?!
Yeah, I have a problem. And so does he.
What’s the cure? Limits. Discussing and setting limits. More specifically limits that express your priorities. Joshua Straub calls it an e-nuptial agreement. (You can download Joshua’s e-nup free right here, or write your own.)
Of course, we all get a little judgmental when called out on our cell phone over-usage, mostly because deep down we know we overdo it, but somehow that addictive little electronic device lures and satisfies us…or at least we think it does. Strangely, this area needs to be approached delicately.
Here’s how to bring this topic up with a spouse or teen:
- Wait until neither of you is on the phone and both of you are calm.
- Confess that you spend too much time on your phone and want to spend more time together instead.
- Explain how you plan to do that–feel free to use one or all of the points on my decree above or Joshua Straub’s e-nup.
- Do what you said you would do.
- Wait until neither of you is on the phone and both of you are calm again.
- Kindly ask that your spouse or teen join you in spending less time on the phone, and explain what that would mean to you and your relationship. You might also explain how it feels when your relationship is trumped by the phone. Don’t say “you always” or otherwise sound accusatory, but refer them back to how they may have felt when you were addicted to your screen, and how much more alive and connected you feel now. (Don’t actually say “connected,” because you’ll sound like an insurance agent, which only works for selling insurance.)
- Pick one area from my decree or the e-nup to work on and build from there, such as no phones at the dinner table; optionally, jump in with both feet an tackle the whole thing at once.
- Enjoy the increased time together…but make it worthwhile.
Replace your phone time with chatting time, cookie-baking time, good time. Live life again, rotate your neck, look up for a change, remember the seasons, stick your head out the door to check the weather, buy a watch to check the time, and get one of those funky phones for your house with a cord that attaches it to the wall, so it cannot physically invade every aspect of your life.
Print my cell phone decree here, sign it, and hang it on your refrigerator for a daily reminder of where electronic devices should rank in life.
I’d love to hear your tips on taking control of your cell phone time.
P.S. I wrote this a few months ago. By turning the sound off on my phone when with others, keeping it in its charging station, and removing my personal Facebook account from my phone, I find myself less connected to the digital realm, and more connected to my cuties and my hottie. Plus dinner’s on time more often. Score!