NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Relationships: The Importance of "Unplugging" From Cellphones to Spend Quality Time Together

It's so easy to underestimate the importance of spending quality time together in your relationship.   These days it seems that so many people are working harder and longer hours, and they're so much more accessible to their work relationships and other distractions because they don't take time to "unplug" from cellphones, iPads and other gadgets--even when they're, supposedly, trying to spend quality time with their loved ones.

The Importance of "Unplugging" From Cellphones to Spend Quality Time Together

Relationships Need Nurturing
There's no substitute for spending time together, without distractions, to nurture a relationship.  Unfortunately, these electronic gadgets, which are such great conveniences in so many ways, can also become obsessive habits to the point where it's hard to "unplug" from them.

The Importance of "Unplugging" From Cellphones: Relationships Need Nurturing

A friend recently told me that her husband responded to the "ping" of his phone while they were making love.  It completely destroyed the moment for her.  Needless to say, she got angry, and in their next couples counseling session she told her husband that he needed to learn to "unplug" from his Blackberry if their marriage was going to last.

Ingrained habits are hard, but not impossible, to change
"Unplugging" from electronic gadgets doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing endeavor.  You and your spouse can come to a compromise about getting "unplugged."

I also recommend being specific.  For example, if you hate the idea of your spouse responding to a cellphone while you're at dinner, but you can live with it while you're watching a sitcom together, tell him or her this.  Then, come to an agreement about it.  Or, if it's hard to find a couple of hours together on the weekend without distractions, plan ahead for this time and agree that this is "unplugged" time away from electronic gadgets and other distractions.  Expect that this might be a "two steps forward/one step backwards" process, especially at the beginning.  Try to be flexible while keeping your goal in sight.

If you're the person who is tethered to your electronic gadgets, expect that you might go through some "withdrawal" symptoms (obviously, nothing life threatening!) as you learn to have this "unplugged" time.  There has been research that has shown that people responding to "pinging" and ringing of electronic gadgets actually get a boost in feel-good chemicals in the brain.  This is one of the reasons why it's so hard for many people to get "unplugged"--it feels good.

For more information about the feel-good, dopamine, chemical that can make getting "unplugged" so difficult, see the Psychology Today article by Susan Weinschenk, Ph.D.:
"Why We're All Addicted to Texts, Twitter and Google"

Getting Help in Therapy
If you or your spouse are unwilling to spend any time "unplugged," there might be deeper problems in your relationship.  Sometimes, spending a lot of time using electronic gadgets (or watching TV or other distractions) can be a way to avoid each other.  If you can't resolve this issue on your own, you can benefit from seeing a couples counselor who can help you and your spouse to deal with this issue.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist.  I work with individuals and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website:  Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.

Also, see my article:  Creating Special Times Together to Enhance Your Relationship