Some couples can't remember the last dinner they shared without a text message, Facebook status, or email interrupting their date — and they're shocked to find that months or years later, their dependence on tech has driven a wedge between them. "I've seen countless couples who feel distant from their partners because one always has to have a phone or computer screen in front of them," says Alisa Ruby Bash, Malibu-based licensed marriage therapist. "When we are more interested in the comments on our Facebook page than our own spouse, it is time for a reality check."
If you're worried your time with tech is ruining your relationship with your spouse, here are four signs to spot:
1. Your partner has asked you to put a device down.
We may think our partners are being dramatic when they bemoan our social media addictions. But it's more likely that our partner's aren't being petty — they're truly bothered by the amount of attention we give our phones, says Bash. If our partners have expressed unhappiness with our smartphone use — but "we have not respected their feelings or refuse to change our behavior" — that's an especially clear sign that tech is ruining our relationship, Bash says.
2.__ You're not getting enough sleep thanks to checking your smartphone for social media status updates, emails, texts and more.__
"Not getting enough sleep because you have to check Facebook or play World of Warcraft will have a negative impact on your marriage," says Lesli Doares, marriage coach and author of Blueprint For a Lasting Marriage. "The same is true if one of you stays up later for the same reason." Why? Because whether you stay up late logging hours in front of the TV or iPad, "you are missing time you can be together," Doares says.
See More: 9 Easy Ways to Be a Better Spouse
3. You would rather be online or on your phone than with the person you love.
"If you'd rather spend time checking social media sites, emails, or texts than actually communicating or having sex with your partner when they are in the room with you, that's a problem," warns Bash. "When they have tried to make advances towards us but we reject them for our phones, we know our marriage is in trouble."
4. Your desire to talk to people you barely know online is greater than your desire to chat with your spouse.
Both Doares and Bash caution that turning to tech to share our relationship problems, arguments, or to develop new relationships can lead to emotional and physical affairs. "This is how internet affairs can start — when you are sharing things with others that rightfully belong to your spouse," Doares says.
Doares adds, "Technology can be great but, like anything else, moderation is the key. If you spend more time with technology than you do together, your relationship will suffer. It has become so commonplace that you may not even be aware of how often you use it." So sign off social media for one week or even weekend, she recommends, and "see how often you interact with technology. It may be more than you think."