My husband is on his phone constantly. He’s talking, texting or reading while we’re eating dinner or trying to enjoy time with the kids. It drives me crazy. I’ve told him it’s rude, but it’s like he’s addicted. What can I say to him to make him understand he needs to stop?
GRAY: It’s amazing how we can become compulsive about things. It’s easy to confuse staying busy with being important, but rarely what we need. I know friends who are compulsive Facebook junkies, slaves to online games and zombies to their favorite sitcoms, but I’ve never heard any of them complain when those were replaced with something better – the real world.
You need to set some boundaries. No phone during dinner. No phone after a certain time of night – whatever works for you. If you and your kids are acting like a family then he should too. Suggest he turn it off or put it in a different room during these times so he won’t hear every beep or buzz it makes.
Find better things to occupy his time. Don’t let the phone wedge its way between you. Take nightly strolls around the neighborhood. Have a family board game night. You get the picture. Give him something that will take his mind off of the phone and back where it belongs.
Ask him if he wants your kids to be that way when they grow up. Envisioning a teen with their face buried in their phone, ignoring everything else, may give him an idea of the role model he’s being. I’ve rarely come across the parent who relishes in correctly being called a hypocrite.
While being addicted to the phone may give him the illusion of being important, there’s nothing more genuinely important than being a good husband and father. Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to remind us of that.
MAVERICK: Likely he doesn’t realize just how disruptive it is or how entangled he’s become with his phone.
You need to simply point out when he’s doing it, that it’s not a good time and it’s generally rude and dorky, and give him an alternative activity that you’ll both enjoy.
Example: While on a road trip your husband has had his nose in his phone for a good 15 minutes:
You: Honey, remember when we used to talk on road trips? Remember when you were man enough to drive the car and not ask for directions and would get us all lost? Now all you do is tap on your phone, giggle, and spout useless drivel.
Him: Huh, sorry, did you say something? Hey, did you hear about this new super-diet?
You: No, and I don’t care. Have you heard men like cars, and driving, and some of them even like women? You remember women don’t you?
Rinse, change the conversation slightly for context, and repeat. Besides luring him away with banter, try talking about beer, T.V, golf, hunting, mixed-martial arts or food. If he doesn’t like any of that stuff, the phone may be the least of your troubles. Possibly have his testosterone checked.
Don’t be a total nag about the phone though. While nagging seems to be the default tactic many women use, it never works, never.
Be sure he does have time that he can mess with the gadget without getting a look or hearing you gripe. Just point it out when his phone-play becomes excessive.
If he’d generally read for an hour in the evening but now he spends it reading or messing with his phone, don’t bust him.
Only get him when it intrudes on time you used to spend together, or with the kids, but remember to point out his techno-geekness politely and give him positive reinforcement when he puts the $@*! thing away.
If you do this, you should have him weaned of the gizmo in no time. If he simply can’t quit, I’d consider a 12-step program.