Dear Inside His Head,
My husband and I just had another big argument about me “being on my phone so much”. He can’t stand for me to look at my phone at all even if he’s watching television! What’s the difference? He’s watching what he wants and I want to have some downtime myself. I’m not one of those people who’s constantly looking at her phone during dinner or anything, but I’ve started wanting to hide it when I look at my phone at home. That’s ridiculous and I’m not going to start doing it, I refuse.
We both work hard and I don’t appreciate him acting like I’m one of our kids. I do use my phone a lot for looking stuff up, checking facebook/IG, etc., but I do try not to let it take over. Obviously he thinks I do? What advice do you have to get him to stop acting like this?
MAVERICK: I think if your husband isn’t a chronic complainer and is typically a reasonable guy (and you’ve actually had a series of arguments about this) you might not be as much in control of your phone habit as you think.
Likely you’re pretty distracted when you’re on the thing and you don’t realize it. It’s likely become such a habit that it’s not even registering with you how much time it’s taking from other things you used to like to do -—like looking up once and a while.
I would be wiling to bet the amount of time you actually spend with it is much higher than you estimate.
The reason he’s bugged by you being on the phone while you’re both supposed to be watching TV is likely the fact that you become so absorbed in the phone the TV watching is no longer a shared activity. I assume that’s what TV is for you as a couple — a time to sit around, maybe talk, make fun of the commercials — or at least it used to be.
If you’re on the phone you’re likely not engaged with the show. I know you think you are, but you’re not.
He’s likely actually talking to you from time to time but you either don’t notice, or you grunt back in an attempt to imply what he’s saying to you is equally as important as what your friend ate for dinner and posted on Facebook. Ohhh, that looks yummy. Did you say something dear?
The fact that even the way this question is worded, how you’re not one of the kids who needs her phone activity monitored or restricted, sounds a lot like maybe you just might need to step away from the phone a little more.
For the sake of an experiment, assume your husband is correct for once, and try to put the phone away while you’re watching TV together or maybe while you’re just riding in the car or heaven help you in the bedroom.
I don’t spend a lot of time on the phone because mine is a relic from the Stone Age, but I know I often feel a lot like the guy from the Allstate whose whole family is on social media while he drives, leaving him in a cone of silence.
Give it a try. Put the phone down now and then. You might find you actually like your husband’s company more than keeping up to date with the latest Facebook feud, your friend Alicia’s kids in the local dance troupe — or completing the Which Ninja Turtle Are You? personality quiz. Trust me, you’re Michelangelo. Nobody ever gets to be Raphael.
GRAY: There were stretches of my childhood where we made an effort to eat meals together and have family board game nights. We talked, we learned about each other and in the process became stronger as a family.
There were days-long Monopoly games. My dad taught me chess. We would rent a movie (remember those things called video stores)?
The cell phone is not much different than television on most levels. But we now feel justified because we’re keeping up with events or thanklessly extending our work day by getting email constantly. So we convince ourselves it’s not as mindlessly entertaining as TV. Right?
Without trying to defend your husband’s actions, I think it’s healthy to unplug for certain parts of the day. It’s ok for you to be selfish like that for yourself. Email and Facebook will still be there when you return – I promise. And to address your husband, ask him exactly what he would prefer you to do.
If he’s simply jealous your attention is going elsewhere, then he has some issues to work out. The reality is that neither your activity nor his are anything of substance, and to complain either way is only making your actions seem more important than they are.
My recommendation is to fill your time with something you can enjoy as a family. Set all the electronics aside and make a meal together and spend the night in conversation. Get a new board game. Go see a movie in the theater on a weeknight. You know what I mean. It doesn’t have to be every single day, but I have a feeling it’ll be something you will look back on fondly. And I’d bet the things you’ll not miss at all are those facebook posts, the emails or the TV reruns.
I wish I could say this worked for my family when I was growing up, but though fighting the battle was memorable, television would win the war and turn us to eating meals separately and often hushing attempts at conversation so it wouldn’t interrupt our favorite shows.
It takes determination and stubbornness to make these changes in our lives, but all good things are worth fighting for. And what could be better than time spent together at an activity with your family?
Unwinding after a hectic day at work is one of the reasons we all have a home, right? I mean if you can’t spend a few minutes in your favorite chair catching up with the goings on of the world via social media, why do we even have a mortgage?
Honestly, it feels like there is more in play here than you being on your phone. After all, if your husband is watching TV, I’m going to assume his attention isn’t on you. So what really is the issue of you being on your phone? Aside from that, perhaps you can make some headway with this specific issue.
Communication is key to ANY relationship, especially marriage. That doesn’t mean it’s always easy or that your fellow will volunteer to sit down and talk to you. My guess is, he’s clueless that there is a real problem or perhaps his man brain isn’t computing that there is an issue here.
I would suggest approaching him when he’s in a good mood and open to conversation. A time when he’s not annoyed and you’re not hurt. Hopefully you can have a real conversation, even if it’s brief. Take the approach of wanting to come to a solution (men love solving things, even when our wives don’t want us to) and ask him what he suggests to reach a compromise that benefits you both.
If he proposes the solution it’s harder for him to back out of it later.