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Are You Having an Affair with Your iPhone?

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My client Mary calls her husband's iPhone his mistress. She feels ignored and lonely even when he's home with her. People have become glued to their phones, tablets, and computers and have stopped communicating with each other the way they used to. My client John says that their sex life went straight downhill when they started climbing into bed together with their individual laptops. I hate the idea of a couple lying in bed next to each other with their two computers. When she wouldn't agree to stop, he starting watching porn while lying next to her, and she freaked out.

Many people are now choosing technology over their loved ones. My client Sue says now that she's finally found a wonderful man, she's worried because she knows she avoids him by constantly using her iPhone -- even when she's sitting next to him on the couch. She starts playing games and searching the internet -- nothing really important. She says it's more fun than communicating with him, even though she knows it's damaging the relationship. She's starting to worry about herself and her ability to be intimate and affectionate. Some couples complain to me about each other using too much technology. I tell them how to fix it with boundaries, but they hesitate because they want the boundary set for their mate, but not themselves. They're as addicted as their partners are.

When we talk about setting boundaries, parents will often set boundaries with their kids, like no phones at the dinner table (which is good). But they won't keep that same boundary. We talk about the fact that our youth is becoming unable to communicate in a normal healthy way and are losing their social skills, but it's not just them. Family time has all but disappeared, and couples have accepted it as normal since everyone seems to be doing it. Sue admits to me that she should put her phone down, but would not promise to do it. Without a "deal" with her husband, where she admits the problem, she'll probably never change it.

Start by setting some boundaries with the whole family. No technology at the dinner table, period. No computers or tablets after a certain time in the evening. Discuss it with everyone and make it realistic. Everyone will want some exceptions, like when they're expecting a certain call, but it's best to say, "Tell them to call before 7pm next time." If you can't agree to set a time to turn off all technology, at least set aside an hour or so of no technology, especially with your partner. Start somewhere. Promise yourself to put intimacy and communication back into your life.

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