2-Minute Therapy is a regular series providing simple, effective advice on how to make sure your spouse thinks you’re as awesome as your kid thinks you are.
A few weeks ago, you learned the term ” pphubbing,” which describes what you do when you snub your partner in favor of intimate time with your phone. But while the term is new, the idea that technology can insert itself into your sex life like an IRL pop-up ad is probably not unfamiliar to you. Because if it were uncommon, then licensed marriage and family therapist Ian Kerner, PhD wouldn’t be so damn successful.
“Sex ruts are an epidemic. This is with couples who like each other, love each other, and have secure attachments,” says Kerner the New York Times best-selling author of numerous books devoted to returning intimacy to modern relationships. “If you’re on your phone, you’re not really having a face-to-face, eye-to-eye conversation,” Kerner says. “You’re having more of a side-by-side conversation.”
Side-by-side conversations are the ones you have while also checking social media or work emails or fantasy football scores. Here’s how Kerner, whose relationship advice has been translated into over a dozen languages, says you can ensure your phone spends more time in your pants so your penis can spend less time there.
Practice The Art Of Casual Conversation
If you want to put romance back in the sheets, start by talking to your partner’s face with your face, like people used to do. This is actually harder than it sounds, because the modern workplace demands that your attention always be in many places at once. You might actually have to relearn how to just focus on one thing after 8-10 hours of focusing on many things. The trick here isn’t a trick — just talk to your spouse about something other than work or the kid and do it while looking at them. If you can’t pull that off, you might want to schedule some in-person time with Kerner.
Establish A Tech-Free Time
Agree on the nightly time slot when you’ll both put the tech away and focus on one another. You may be surprised to find that, as Kerner sees in his clients, you crave the phone as an emotional crutch even when it’s off: “Sometimes they just have it off and are fiddling with it in their hands, and it’s clearly a device that they’re using as sort of emotional regulation, anxiety regulation, and a way of soothing themselves.”
Basically, he’s saying that your phone has become your teddy bear. Now that you feel sufficiently humiliated for being a grown man with a teddy bear, let Mr. Snuffbutt sleep for a spell every night.
Pre-commit To Blocking Digital Distractions
Researchers say “pre-commitment,” voluntary restriction from temptation, is more effective than willpower. The best way to stop making bad choices is to give yourself fewer choices, which can be done with any of these:
- Facebook Eradicator: Free Chrome extension that replaces your Facebook news feed with a single quote inspiring quote.
- StayFocused: Android app and Chrome extension that lets you block sites you’re most prone to waste time perusing.
- No app needed to slap a governor on your iPhone. Just go into settings to block distracting sites by address.
- The Kitchen Safe: An actual safe that won’t open until after your specified time. Designed for cookies. Better for smartphones.
Unfriend Your Spouse On Facebook
Facebook isn’t telling you anything useful about the love of your life. “We live in a world where we have almost too much information about the person we’re attached to, and we don’t need more information; we need less,” Kerner says. “We need a little bit of unpredictability and a little bit of opacity instead of all that transparency.”
Remember that Kerner is talking about social media, not lingerie.
Keep Screens Out Of The Bedroom
Kerner says you have to make a conscious decision: “We’re not going to be living alone together. We’re going to live together together.” That’s why he recommends keeping phones, tablets, and computers out of the bed.
There’s only 2 reasons a man should be in his bed, and neither involve Twitter or work email. Nothing says “I hate sex” like reserving your lap for a computer when there’s a scantily-clad lover right next to you. If you have to get work done before bed, take it to another room. Once you’re done, you can get back into bed and figure out what else you can put in your lap.