sex and relationships

Put down that screen!

How to stop your phone ruining your relationship

Don’t let your phone come between you and your partner

A baby’s arrival is one thing but the time you spend on your smart phone can be responsible for coming between you and your partner

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New parents may feel their new arrival, however delightful and welcome, can at times, come between them and their partner. A child is a third person in your previously two-person relationship and it can some effort to keep everyone from feeling side-lined or even rejected. But there’s something else that is often felt to come between partners, and that’s your digital device – your phone, tablet or laptop.  

Social media has been a boon and a blessing in so many ways but as with so many things, too much of a good thing can turn around and bite you. So how can you manage your smartphone so it helps rather than harms your relationship and family life?

Especially if you’re on your own at home with a new baby, there will be times you use your devices to connect – with your partner, with your friends, with the outside world. This can be a vital lifeline, to keep you plugged in with others, to get advice and support or give you a break when you feel stressed or tired. But you really do have to take care that face-to-face contact with those around you doesn’t suffer. These are the best ways to make your use of social media and other digital offerings positive.

Remember, your partner needs you!
Check in with each other when you’re apart, but when you’re back together put that device aside. However much you might like chatting with friends or keeping an eye on what they’re doing, when your partner is there make face to face connection with them your first choice. Chat, laugh, share what you’ve done and thought about in the day and make plans for your time together. Whilst it might not be easy to agree a ‘no phones’ in the evening rule you could at least agree not to use your phones for a set hour or two each evening. 

You baby needs you too!
Eye to eye connection with your baby is not only pleasant for them – it actually contributes to brain development. You may think watching a screen or hearing a story or song through a device would be entertaining and educational for them, and within certain limits it is. But seeing your face, hearing your voice and reacting to you is the most important influence on them. 

Don’t believe all you see!
All those things you see on your friend’s or even acquaintance’s or stranger’s social feeds can be depressing. You can easily get the idea that everyone else has a better time than you and handles life so much more effortlessly. But don’t we all offer an edited profile in public? They’re almost certainly as chaotic and untidy as you!

Begin as you mean to go on
As your child grows you really are going to have to decide rules and boundaries around digital use – how much screen time, what access and when. If you start putting the rules in now between you – such as, no screens ever during meal times and leaving mobiles outside the bedroom – it will be second nature when your child is old enough. Make your rule that you should prioritise partner and child first, family and friends next and others after that – and face to face is always the best. 

Suzie Hayman headshot

Bounty “Sex & Relationship” articles are written by expert Suzie Hayman. Suzie is agony aunt for Woman magazine, a Relate trained counsellor, and an accredited TripleP (Positive Parenting Programme) parenting educator.  She makes frequent appearances on TV and radio and as well as writing 31 books, Suzie writes features on parenting, relationships, sex and couples counselling, for a wide range of national magazines and newspapers

Put down that screen!