All these comments from people who want to have her continue to try to nag, manipulate, or manage her spouse into changing. What part of "it's not working" can't you see? People have agency. That's tough for some of us to accept, but once we learn that, life is easier.
Part of the dynamic here is that if she drops the subject, the tension in the relationship will ease, and that could be the catalyst he needs to help him get off his phone more--he does seem to at least recognize that this is a problem.
This reminds me of an incident that happened with a couple of my grandchildren recently. One 6-year-old came to me complaining that his 6-year-old cousin was hogging one of a pair of basket-catchers, making it impossible for him to play the game with anyone. He had been complaining to his cousin over and over again, trying to grab it, any way to separate him from the other catcher. I told him that it was clear that this approach wasn't working and suggested he try dropping the subject even to the point of giving me the one catcher and acting like he had no further interest in it. He did and went off to play something else. It wasn't five minutes before his cousin relented and put down the catcher.
There is something about nagging that stirs feelings of rebellion in even the best of us, and sometimes we gain more power in helping people change when we show complete respect for their agency.
My husband is addicted to work / helping others and leaving us out. I complained about it and got nowhere. So I made a life with the kids without him, much as Greg suggests. It did *not* bring my husband home. Now the kids are up and out and we have nothing in common. So I question whether this technique will be effective. That said, I HAVE learned recently about better communication techniques -- not complaining or using the word "you," just stating my feelings about a matter. I couldn't imagine that this would work, since my husband hadn't shown any concern about my feelings when I was complaining. He just ran and hid, basically. But I have discovered that it does work, and we are making progress that I never thought possible.
In preparation for my upcoming Education week class on creating a healthy relationship with media, I came across a delightful book by Catherine Price, "How to Break Up With Your Phone." It has many effective ad helpful suggestions, and a month-long daily breakup plan. Written cleverly, it's a fun read and is packed full of solutions that work. I heartily recommend it!
While I usually love the advice given in this weekly article, I must admit that this one let me down a lot.
This husband is obviously dealing with addiction and with ANY other addiction, can you imagine if the therapist said, "Well, you tried. You'll have to let him get far into pornography/drugs/alcohol to realize it's not a desirous world." No way! Now while it is ultimately up to the husband to want to break the habit, you don't give up! And it sounds like the husband is sorry when he's reminded.
Instead, try having a drop box by the door that you put the phone in when you come in the house.
Or set times, like 3 times a day, that he can set aside time to check messages/check social media, etc.
Or do a family technology fast for 12 hours or 24 hours or 36 hours.
Or he might need to keep his hands busy, so try out a fidget cube or Rubiks cube or puzzles or reading or gardening.
Set up a long unlock passcode so that it's annoying to get on to since a lot of smartphone use now is just an unconscious habit.
There are also apps that can track usage on different apps and where you spend your time. This could be a real eye opener for the husband and instill a desire to change.
If for some reason the wife wants to follow this advice after all else has failed, she should inform the husband of the game plan or else chances are he won't understand what is happening.
To the wife, please, keep trying! Addiction is not something to resign yourself to. Addiction needs intervention and steps to change. Not allowing someone to fall deeper and deeper!
Is there a way to find out if your advice works for the people you counsel? I'm very curious if ignoring an addiction to a smartphone actually works for this sister.
Wow! That's great that he's trying to stop. He's nice when you remind him? He can make 12 hour goals? That's wonderful. Don't get discouraged. My husband is addicted to his phone and he's downright mean if I say anything and refuses to work on this because he's stressed and this is his escape. I've just had to make a deal and say as long as it's not dinnertime or on the road. I've been reading Willpower is Not Enough from Deseret Book. That's a really good place to learn why some people can't change, it's usually because they don't have a good replacement. My husband sees hobbies and exercise as a lot of work, the screen is easier. And I've come to realize that I'm on the computer a lot too--I'm such a hypocrite, it's an easy access to hobbies--a fast pick-me-up, old fashioned ones require a lot of clean up. I imagine we'll stop when we realize it's hurting us and we only get rewards from abstinence, like my son and potty training--once I stopped using diaper cream and said going in your pants is the reason your bum hurts and you only get rewards for being dry not just making token donations, he potty-trained fast after many many months of not caring. If he's willing to change, which I'm like, she doesn't have it that bad if he wants to improve, try a schedule and a designated place for the smartphone, then put a frowny sticky note. You've got it easier than you think, my husband doesn't make token efforts like yours.
Maybe there was more to this than published, but It may be as simple as asking to set up "no device times" with him.
Excellent advice! I wish I had know this 30 years ago! I created so much conflict pulling on my husband to pull away from the tv and join our family. He would sit there like a zombie no matter what was on! If I had something important to discuss with him, I'd wait for a commercial. I was so irritated!! It just created conflict. He was doing what he wanted. Once, I had a dream that I should "tend my own garden". I took that to mean quit monitoring his behavior. I didn't fully 'get it'. So, LOVE this advice!! (BTW, that marriage ended in divorce)
I think Geoff may have left out an important aspect of this person's new approach to dealing with allowing a spouse to experience the full weight of the consequences of their choices, and that is her own feelings, attitude, and behavior while it is ongoing. Whether or not she initially shares her own decision about how she will be handling the new approach (and I think she should, in a calm, matter of fact way), she will have to constantly be forced to choose not to be angry, irritated, and/or reproachful in her own heart as she let's the chips fall where they may. I know, been there, and after 40 years with no change because it's a deep personality hardwiring in some cases, one must be prepared for that, too.
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