Wifey Wednesday: Is Your Internet Addiction Wrecking Your Marriage?

Internet Addiction: Don't let it ruin your marriage! Tips on how to get real--and spend time offlineIt’s Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you all can leave a comment or link up your own marriage post in the linky below! Today I want to get real, ladies, and ask you honestly: Do you have an internet addiction?

I received this letter from a male reader a little while ago:

I love your blog an have been a follower for a couple years. Even have your books!!(Awwww, I love readers like that!)

Anyway, I have a problem. My wife is addicted to the internet! It hurts my feelings every night when instead of putting her head on my pillow and giving us a chance to reflect, pray, plan, etc., she plugs her phone in, turns on her side with her back to me (because “the cord is so short”) and plays a game or gets on Facebook or Pinterest. Most nights I fall asleep without a “good night” or a little kiss or even holding her hand. It really makes me feel neglected and not important.

I know she is tired and has taken care of our kids all day but I work hard all day, too. When I bring it up, she is defensive and it might change for a few days, but then right back. Now the kids are even saying they can’t get her to do anything with them because she is always checking email or pinning something.

Could your husband have said that you have an internet addiction?

I’ve talked a lot on this blog about the addictions that our husbands can have–to video games, to porn, to TV. Certainly men can become too entangled in something and never want to spend time with us.

But let’s face it: we can be just as guilty. It’s all too easy to become addicted to Facebook if we’re not careful. And if you’re routinely choosing the computer over your husband, you have a problem.

I really struggle with this because my job is completely tied in to the internet. Pretty much everything I do is online. I’m not actually using the internet to relax. I just always feel like I have to check comments or check my stats or something, and it’s silly. The internet will always be there, yet my family won’t.

Today’s young moms are growing up in a whole new world. When I used to take my kids on outings when they were small, we would talk. In fact, we would talk so much that they often let me have some free time at home. We’d have these special bonding times on outings, when they had my full attention, and it meant that at home they’d play more quietly and I’d feel more at peace.

But so often today I see moms with strollers walking their kids while texting. The babies and toddlers aren’t getting their attention!

And it’s the same with marriage. Couples go out for dinner and they get on their own phones. And often this is primarily one person’s fault. When my husband turns to his phone, I turn to mine, and vice versa. If one of us didn’t start, the other wouldn’t follow. We’re losing out on real, face-to-face communication, when people know that we’re sharing hearts.

So here are some thoughts on cutting down technology use. I don’t think we can eliminate it entirely, nor do I think we should. The internet is my go-to place for recipes, printables, ideas, even phone numbers! It’s how I keep in touch with friends. I want to be plugged in. I just don’t want it to take over my life.

1. Set Technology Free Times

Make sure that everyday, both with your kids and with your husband, you have technology free times. Maybe it’s the two hours after dinner when you do something as a family, like play board games. Maybe you take a walk. But turn those devices off!

This is especially important for kids, too. As much as we may suffer from internet addiction, they’re prone to it even more because they’re growing up with it. Teach them to limit it, and to turn to other things, like books, or they’ll end up unable to have real relationships in the future.

2. Do Not Allow Technology in Your Bedroom–it Feeds an Internet Addiction

This man was saying that at night, when he wanted to cuddle and pray, his wife would be on her phone. I’ve been convicted recently that I need to stop bringing my computer into the bedroom. When my husband’s on call and not home at night, I often do work in bed at night to pass the time. But then that habit continues when he is home. So now I tell myself: I can work in the kitchen and the study, but never in the bedroom, even if Keith’s not home. The computer is not for the bedroom. The bedroom needs to be inviting for us as a couple!

Another tip that has worked for many people is to turn the wifi off at a certain time every night: say 10:00 or 10:30. This helps teens get to bed earlier, and it helps reduce the temptation.

Charging DockIf you get one of those central charging docks for all your devices, like phones and tablets and iPads, then you can all, as a family, put them to rest at night in the living room or kitchen and leave them there. That can even be a family rule! Yes, the kids will complain. Yes, it may be hard for you. But you need your sleep, and using technology before bed hurts the quality of your sleep, and the quality of your marriage.

3. Go to Bed at the Same Time

It’s so easy to get carried away with Pinterest or Facebook and suddenly hours have gone by. Instead, consider that time right before you go to sleep as sacred space, when you’re going to connect with your husband, read, pray, even make love! So set a bedtime and stick to it. Then the technology won’t own you–you’ll own the technology.

4. Replace Your Internet Use With Something Else

Do you get antsy if you haven’t checked Facebook in a while? Do your fingers twitch if you haven’t instagrammed something or texted someone? It’s hard to quit something cold turkey, and I’m not saying you should.

When we eat badly, we don’t say that the solution is to never eat. We say that the solution is to find ways to eat the right amount of the right stuff. We just change our eating patterns, and that’s what we have to do with technology, too. It’s not a matter of going completely without, as much as it is about figuring out how to incorporate technology in a healthy way into your life.

And I find that’s easiest if we take a positive spin on it. Instead of saying, “I have to quit the internet!”, we say, “I want to knit more,” or “I want to walk with my husband more,” or “I want to take up a new sport with my hubby.” In other words, do something. It’s harder to surf the internet if you’re actively engaged in something–a hobby, a sport, even a volunteer activity. Or start playing two player board games together at night!

So talk to your husband about what you could do instead of technology that will feed your soul, because you don’t want the internet taking over everything!

5. Apologize for Your Internet Use

Finally, if you’ve suffered from internet addiction, and you’ve hurt your husband and kids, you need to get real with them. Apologize. Admit where you’ve been wrong. Ask for help. Tell them that they’re allowed to hold you accountable. Say to the kids, “I want to stay off of Facebook from 7-9 every night, and if you see me checking my phone, you have permission to call me on it.”

And give your husband a heart-felt apology, too. The man who wrote this letter feels so neglected and so sad. No guy deserves that. If you’ve hurt your man, don’t tell him, “I’m sorry, it’s just that I’m so stressed with the kids that I needed to unwind.” Just say, “I’m sorry I hurt you and neglected you.” No excuses. No explanations. You were wrong, and admit it. And then tell him you want to move forward, and build a much more intimate marriage–one that is better for both of you!

6. Apologize to God

And here’s a big one: I think we need to apologize to God.

Think about what we pray when we say the Lord’s prayer:

They kingdom come, they will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

That doesn’t just mean, “God, I’m going to sit back and wait for your to do Your will.” That means that we need to be active participants, allowing God to use us to bring His kingdom to earth, to bring His will here.

And how can He use us if we’re wasting so much time?

I do not believe that there is anything inherently sinful about Pinterest, or Facebook, or surfing the web. The internet is not sinful. But when it has such a hold on us that we start neglecting the things that God wants to do in our lives, and neglecting the people around us, that’s a problem. And we need to own up to God about it.

There’s another benefit to this: addictions are very hard to break. You can’t do it in your own strength. But God can help you fill that compulsion with something else. And the way that He starts working is when you are humble before Him and admit, “I messed up.” So confess before God, and ask Him to give you His strength to put first things first, and to help do His will. That way you’ll be operating in His strength, and not just your own!

Christian Marriage Advice

Now, what advice do you have for us today? Link up the URL of a marriage post in the linky below! And be sure to grab the Wifey Wednesday code and share it on your site, so that other people can come back here and read these awesome marriage posts!

The Unwired Mom--Beat Internet Addiction

Want more inspiration and help to beat an internet addiction? Sarah Mae has a great book out called The Unwired Mom, which helps us make sure we’re still giving our families the attention and love they’re due!

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  1. Love it – for all members of the family.
    I will admit – I love reading these marriage blogs. But for a couple of the women, I wonder how they address so much and deal with so many concerns that stem from the blog (which is helpful to us), but still maintain their marriage and other responsibilities.

  2. My husband could have written this! I am so blessed by it, Thank you Sheila. I will follow the steps you have outlined and make the necessary changes, God help me so to do!

  3. Wonderful topic, Sheila! And your answers are spot on.

    Indeed, several months ago, my husband took a day off work and took me out to lunch. About halfway through, he said, “I don’t feel like you’re here with me. You keep checking your phone.” Indeed, I had posted that morning and felt compelled to check messages, respond to comments, tweet, etc. But he was right! Why was I throwing away that special time with my husband when the Internet could wait a few hours?!! Our new rule: No phone use on dates. If it vibrates, we can look to make sure the kids are okay. But if it’s not about the kids, the phone gets put away.
    J (Hot, Holy & Humorous) recently posted…Has the Mainstream Embraced BDSM? Should You?My Profile

  4. This is such a great post Sheila! Before I began blogging, I was not on the internet at all. Now I have a blog and I use internet for work primarily but i have to fight to keep it that way.

    I really love # 4, it’s important to replace a bad habit with something else. Yesterday i curved some time to read a book, but since my books are in kindle i was stuck! Reading from a device made me feel like i hadn’t unplugged at all. So i took a nap instead! So maybe next time i should pick up a physical book (and i have plenty around my house!) :)
    Ngina Otiende recently posted…Your Contribution To The WoundMy Profile

  5. This week my husband and I started turning off our computers one night a week, after our son goes to bed, so that we can spend more quality time together. When this becomes a habit then we may add a second night. He and I are both addicted to our computers.
    Tracy recently posted…September 11, 2001 RememberedMy Profile

  6. I think it is usually (always?) useful to ask why someone does something too much. Often it is filling a need that is not being filled by anything else. Internet addiction, especially for women, can be filling a need to connect and relate with others. Women who are stuck at home, especially those with young children, may not get the social interaction they need to be healthy. The Internet becomes that for them, but because it is not as effective as real life connections it does not really fill the need and they seek great amounts of it to try to get enough.

    If this is the root problem for a woman, she needs to find real life interaction to fill her need. This will make it easy, even desirable to cut back on her Internet use.

    If the Internet addition is treating a symptom, reducing use will not change the root need, and some other harmful behaviour may come in to try to treat the symptom.

  7. #3 is a big one! My husband was going to have to start getting up super early. I decided to start getting up with him so we would go to the bed at the same time as well. Best choice ever!
    Cassie recently posted…Receiving Gifts- Baked GoodiesMy Profile

  8. Wow! I would just love to have my husband want my attention like that. I’d give anything to have my husband go to bed when I do… And want to hold my hand, wow what a treat. Wish this poor wife really knew what she was missing.

  9. This hits me hard! Between homeschooling, my website, taking care of the house… my nights seem like the *perfect* time to relax! So here I am at 11:30 at night, alone in the office, looking at blogs while my husband is sleeping. I do need to work harder at keeping the internet away for the sake of my marriage and family!
    Becky recently posted…6 Faith E-BooksMy Profile

  10. KellyK(@RNCCRN9706) says:

    My husband says the same. I told him, look, it’s partly YOUR FAULT! On Football Saturdays, you brought your friends over to our house to hang out & watch the games & have some beers… I had no females to chat with.. So once I got high speed Internet and a laptop(around the time MySpace took off) I used that to occupy my time. Then Facebook took over. Most of my friends are “online” I’ve met some in real life

    . Before I became a mom, I’d unwind after working 2nd shift on a nurses message board and some of us became friends chatting in the chat room there. We then started our own message board and 12 years later, are still friends today! We’ve gone through marriages, births, deaths, divorces, infertility, infidelity, you name it! We send each other Christmas Cards every year. One lives in Vega$ and we’re planning a reunion for next summer! These women sent me baby gifts when my son was born! One from across the Pond!

    Working a full time 3rd shift job makes it hard to make friends. I’ve lived in my town for 14 years and I STILL don’t have a girlfriend to call & hang out with :( Hubby works 2nd shift during the week so I see him for 10 min in the morning, if that. He wasn’t raised attending Church. I was raised Roman Catholic. I’ve been wanting to take our son to church but can’t decide whether I want to take him to the Methodist, Lutheran, Baptist, Church of Christ orChurch of God congregations in our community.

  11. Well Said. I just wrote a blog post a couple weeks ago about this very same topic and most everything I write is from personal experience. http://aheartformyhome.blogspot.com/2013/10/is-social-media-taking-over-your-family.html
    Jennifer recently posted…Practical Homemaking Skills I Wish I Had Known…My Profile

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