My husband is on his smartphone A LOT and it is irritating. It’s for work I know, but how do I get him to realize it’s annoying? Asked by Judith – Brentwood, TN
I would talk to him about it, and not while it is happening. I would express how it makes you feel. Smartphones make it really easy for work to follow us everywhere and I think it is important to still set boundaries around it or you will never feel like you have time away. If it is a big problem you can always start small and ask for chunks of uninterrupted time and work up from there. In the long run it will help your husband to have time away from thinking about work. Heidi – 30 something
Two thoughts pop into my mind: first of all, have you ever talked to him about giving himself some rest? We battle this in our house as well (and sometimes I’m the guilty party!), and I started noticing when studies would come out about how fatigued our brain gets with the constant bombardment. It’s really not healthy, increases stress significantly, and it would give another reason to put the little phone down.
Secondly, there are a large number of bosses that expect to reach their employees 24/7. You need to make sure that you are not putting your husband in a tough spot by begging him to put it down when his boss is harassing him to keep responding. Another way to approach it might be to pick times of the day that he can take a break for a period of time. The dinner table could be a Blackberry-free zone, or perhaps a walk after dinner. That way, he knows you are supporting him, but he can have a period of time when he is free to have a complete conversation. Good luck! Amy C. – 40 something
This is such a good question – you are doing your best to be understanding, but it bothers you. Rather than trying to get him to realize something which could be perceived as manipulation or complaining, maybe you could focus on what you want and why?:
1. How does it make you feel when he is on his phone all the time? What are you missing out on in terms of his attention and participation as a husband? You might find you feel disrespected or unimportant?
2. Once you have identified what you need to feel happy with the situation, ask him for something specific. You might want to ask him to turn off the phone between 6 and 7 each night. Or, you might want to ask him to refrain from picking up the phone if you and he are having a conversation.
Whatever it is, present it as something that he can do for you to make you happy – not something he should change about himself. In other words, don’t make him wrong – just ask for what you want!
Sounds like you love your husband…that’s great! Jamee – 40 something
It is difficult in this day and age to delineate when works starts and ends. My husband and I had our own business for 10 years and we found we had to make parameters around when we could talk about work and when we couldn’t. That was difficult but that was before the smartphone existed. Now it is even more challenging. I suggest that you schedule a time to talk to him about how you feel. Make it a quiet time with no children or other distractions around. Mention how you feel when he is on his smartphone. Tell him in “I” statements, as in “I feel like you aren’t available when you are on your phone.” Or “I feel you aren’t really there.”
You will need to figure out what you hope to gain from this conversation. Do you want him to go into the office to do his work? Do you want him to not be on his smartphone at night? During dinner? Figure out what type of guidelines would be helpful for you and then go over them with your husband. In our house we have a rule that there are no phones on the dinner table nor is the phone answered during dinner.
Sometimes I tell my kids to put their phone in their pocket so we can have a real conversation. Good luck. I truly believe that it is ok to have rules about screen time. Rules for EVERYONE in the family! Ann – 50 something
Your question involves good manners as well as consideration for others. There is a time and place for smart phones, and regardless of whether they are for business or not it is rude to let them interfere with a social setting. Period. For many people, the use of this multi-faceted convenience has turned into an obsession, and they leave their alerts on so they can immediately respond to a text, read an e-mail, or answer a call, regardless of who they are with or where they are. The answer for you is to discuss this matter with your husband and set some ground rules that will satisfy both your personal and his business needs. He may not realize the amount of time he spends on his phone, and that it makes you feel abandoned when it becomes more important than your company. However, in these days of instant communication, employers often expect, even demand, immediate answers so keep an objective viewpoint and work out those rules to the best advantage for both of you. If he spends a lot of time on the phone for non-business matters and is intentionally using it as an excuse for ignoring you, then it’s a different problem. Marge – 70 something