Thursday, May 9, 2013

I LOVE YOU in 140 Characters or Less

     In our tech savvy culture, communication in marriage is rapidly changing.  In a world of instant messaging, tweets, and facebook posts, there is a generation that has learned to communicate in rapid bursts of 140 characters or less.  So, is that a good thing or a bad thing?  Well, the answer is both yes and no.
On the positive side:
  • Instant availability.  It is comforting to know that you can reach your spouse almost instantaneously if you want to share a thought, or if there is a crisis, or if he is on a long trip, or she is driving home in dangerous weather.  Before cell phones were common, there were days-long stretches that Lisa and I would barely see each other when she was working nights and I was working days.  Texting would have been a real blessing then.
  • Silent communication when needed.  One couple I know texted each other across the living room, not because they didn’t want to talk, but because they didn’t want to wake up their newborn baby.  And when kids get older, sometimes parents need to communicate without alerting the children to certain things.
  • Visible reminders.  If Lisa gives me the grocery list over the phone, there’s a high probability I’ll forget most of it by the time I get to the store.  When she texts me the list, I have it readily available when I get there.
Of course there are many more advantages, but tech certainly can enhance a couple’s communication in certain circumstances.

On the negative side:
  • What are YOU thinking?  We normally read texts/tweets based on our own current disposition, not necessarily the sender’s intent.  A lot of what we express—love, fear, anxiety, anger, frustration, joy—is communicated as much through tone and body language as the actual words.  There are often nuances of communication that electronic mediums cannot accurately convey.  Even with capital letters and lots of exclamation points, it’s difficult to express real emotions (and the causes behind them) with emoticons.
  • Brevity.  At times, brevity in communication is good, but often conversations between spouses require much more than short answers.  Electronic communications can force quick decisions that are not nearly as well thought out as they would be if the couple talked to each other.
  • Tech overload.  It is easy to become dependent on tech for communication to the point that we develop tech overload and forget how to honestly communicate otherwise.

A few things to remember in a tech-dependent world:
  • Don’t be lazy in your communication.  If you find yourself texting when it would be just as easy to call and speak or (better yet) you can wait until you can speak face-to-face, then you need to reconsider your use of tech.
  • The power of a hand-written note.  The time and effort put into thinking through and hand-writing a love note to your spouse means something.  It is far more powerful and intimate than a typed text.
  • Where you spend your time indicates your priorities.  Texting your spouse, while often convenient and necessary, is not the same as spending time with him/her in meaningful conversation.
     Without communication a relationship will die.  The culture will not slow down, and I don’t believe it is helpful to try and fight progress.  It is helpful, however, to discern how to use the changing face of communication to benefit a couple, and to place appropriate boundaries on how spouses use communication tech in their relationship.  Often, tech is a blessing for wives and husbands, but don’t let it become a crutch for avoiding real face-to-face interaction with your mate.  Every now and again, agree with your spouse to have a “technology fast.”  Put down the cell phones, laptops, and other electronics—look into each other’s eyes, hold hands, and just talk.

Is your church doing everything it can to help facilitate healthy marriages?  Are you sure?  The Marriage-Friendly Church is available now and gives you the questions every church needs to be asking.  Available at 21st Century Christian or on

If you are in the Middle Tennessee area, I will be presenting a session based on The Marriage-Friendly Church at the Caring Connections Conference, Friday, May 10, 2013 from 10:15 to 11:30 a.m.  Go to for more info and to register.  Be sure to mention that you heard about the conference here on The Marriage Blog.
Top photo image credit: <a href=''>tomasfoto / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

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