By Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD
Given that my last blog addressed how modern life can undermine your relationship, I thought it only fair to also address how technology, a huge part of our modern lives, can enhance your relationship, or even save it.
Here are some elements that are essential in happy relationships; along with suggestions for how technology can help you achieve them:
It’s the little connections that count. Part of what can keep you and your partner close is the little ways that you reach out to each other. Without even thinking about it, you build up your relationship when together. For instance, when a husband murmurs “wow” while reading the news, his wife shows she cares by asking, “What are you reading?” Or, when a wife comments on the beautiful day, her husband helps strengthen their connection by simply taking a moment to look out the window and agree with her.
Technology is great for staying connected in these simple, sometimes subtle ways. A quick email to share events of the day can help your partner feel included. Even just texting a smiley face can do wonders for his or her warm feelings toward you.
Staying connected is essential when you are apart. Too much distance can be fatal to any relationship. In contrast, couples experience a greater bond when they feel like a part of each other’s lives.
I’m sure there are many people – such as business executives, salesmen, and military personnel – who can attest to the benefits of Skyping and FaceTime. Even videotaping yourself sharing a loving message can make a wonderful email for your partner to open. While talking on the phone helps during long separations, seeing your loved one adds something special.
People need to know that their partner cares about what’s important to them. When a husband asks about what his wife has planned for the day, and then follows up later to ask how it went, she is likely to feel cared about. And when she remembers his birthday, he feels loved (even if he doesn’t really care about celebrating).
There’s nothing like an electronic calendar to mark important dates and events. With the help of a simple alarm, you can ensure that you remember his or her birthday, your anniversary, and other important dates. You can even remind yourself to buy a card or gift ahead of time.
Just seeing your partner through the day can keep your love strong. Look at people’s desks at work or around their kitchens at home and you are likely to see pictures and other reminders of their loved ones. These things help them to always feel close.
Of course, technology is great for this, too. Screen saver photos, pictures on your cell phone, and video clips from fun times together are all modern and vivid ways to stay close.
Gift-giving is a time-honored way of showing you care. Gifts come in many forms and need not be expensive. For instance, you can give a cruise vacation, a bouquet of flowers, or a love letter.
Once again, technology can be very useful. It takes almost no time to send an e-card, but doing so shows that you care. And if you are away, your laptop or cell phone can help a lot. With them, you can send almost any kind of gift, from flowers to a pizza with pepperoni on it in the shape of a heart.
What’s most important is to prioritize your relationship and to show that you care. After that, it’s just a matter of how you do it. And technology offers many different and creative ways. Do you have your own ways? Care to share them in the comments below or in our Relationships and Coping community?