It’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.
If 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!
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!
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!