How to Stop Being Controlled by Your Phone in Marriage

Is your phone coming between you and your spouse? It's a common problem! Come by MM to learn 3 ways to improve this situation. #marriage #conflict #Bible #verses #phone #communication #tips #conversation #division #priorities #control #boundaries

Have you ever gotten angry with your spouse for constantly being distracted by their cell phone while you’re together?

I’m not here to judge you if you have. Especially since I’ve gotten my nose out of joint over my husband’s phone usage a time or two.

Worse still, I’ve been guilty of going overboard with my phone, as well. I’ve let it control me, giving it my attention when I should be giving my husband my attention instead.

There’s just something so alluring and addictive about our phones, isn’t there?

I remember back to my college days—aka “stone age”—when cell phones might have been invented but the average person only dreamt of owning one.

How did I survive? Lol!

Back then, my desire to know if someone was thinking about me or had something to say to me was much stronger than it is now. So, as soon as I came through the doors of my dorm, I immediately checked my little glass mailbox to see if a message had been left for me.

Nowadays, there can be so many ways people reach out to us. You’ve got to check your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, LinkedIn, email and texts regularly in case someone messaged you in the past 10 minutes or so.

Yes, that’s a real and bonafide number!

According to Asurion Research, people check their phones 96 times a day, making it occur about every 10 minutes.

But can this dependency on our devices really cause a negative impact on our marriages?

According to The Gottman Institute, smartphones truly are sabotaging our relationships, and harming our marriages in very tangible and obvious ways. Click here to read the whole article (after you read the rest of mine! Lol!).

Gottman’s experts correlate this with our need for tuning into our spouse’s bids.

A bid is offered by your mate, asking you to recognize and even validate that you care about and are interested in what your spouse is communicating to you.

My in-laws provided an inspiring example of this for me when I was on vacation recently. I overheard a short, but very typical, exchange between these two love-birds …

My mother-in-law shared an observation with my father-in-law, saying, “She really looks pretty in that color.”

Then my father-in-law replied, “Yeah, her skin tone really goes well with that color.”

These two are truly tuned into each other. If I didn’t believe that the “you complete me” line is a lie, I would have used them as proof that it’s true! 😉 #JerryMaguire

The problem is …

Did you know that the Bible talks about the very first “Apple” (aka iPhone) in Genesis? 😉

Consider this . . .

“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.”  Genesis 3:6

Don’t see it?

Forgive me for taking creative license with Scripture, but maybe it was more like . . .

When the woman saw that the Apple iPhone was good for communicating with friends and family as far as her network would roam.

Was pleasing to the eye . . . loaded with all the Facebook and Instagram photos she could peruse, movies she could stream, not to mention Pinterest recipes she could dream of making.

And was desirable for gaining wisdom . . . offering her the latest news and/or gossip. Providing her with a clock for telling time. A fitness app for tracking steps. Notifying her of the best Black Friday sales. A map for getting wherever she needed to go. And giving her a complete library of books, podcasts and blog posts at the click of a button.

No wonder she took some and ate it up! She might have even gorged herself on it most days, while Adam sat back in his hammock watching ESPN on his tablet. (Maybe his device was the 1st generation of Moses’ two tablets! Lol!)

So, how can you and I “dial” back our incessant delirium for more device time, creating the focused time our marriages need?

3 Ways to Stop Being Controlled by Your Phone in Marriage

1. Determine to give your best to your spouse.

Looking at your phone isn’t a sin. But looking at your phone when you should be giving your undivided attention to your spouse during a conversation is. Especially when you’ve done it over and over, hurting your spouse each time.

“Therefore what God has joined together, let no one [including your cell phone] separate” Mark 10:9 (my emphasis added).

After all, God calls us to give our best to our spouses (Prov. 3:3-4; Eph. 5:25, 28, 33; Eph. 5:22; Heb. 13:4).

Making your spouse play second-fiddle to your phone is not giving your spouse your best. Why not change that today!

2. Let God—not your phone—be your Master and Controller.

As Christians, we have been given so many freedoms that sometimes we can view our phones as just another one of those liberties in the Lord. We can view our situation very much like the attitudes the Apostle Paul was confronting . . .

“‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but I will not be mastered by anything.  1 Corinthians 6:12

If you’ve given yourself permission to overuse or misuse your phone, then you are letting it master and control you. The way to resolve that problem is to repent and turn it over to the Lord to control in your life and marriage.

3. Set boundaries with yourself and in agreement with your spouse.

Be brave enough to talk to your spouse about this issue! But also be humble enough to admit your own failures when it comes to the phone.

For heaven’s sake, don’t lead with all the ways your spouse has irritated you with his/her inappropriate phone usage!

Then decide on some boundaries and standards you both want to put into practice. Here are some possible options …

  • First, you might want to spell out how much or little you will look at your phones during any dates or times together during your day/week.
  • An extra incentive might be to buy a cute little “phone basket” to put in the center of your table. When you come together for meals, you both put your phones in the basket until after your meal is done. Then be sure to ignore any promptings the phone gives you while you eat.
  • Lastly, you could turn your phone to silent 24/7. This has been my habit for years! I do this so that I’m the one who controls when I look at notifications or respond to calls rather than my phone dictating my choices.

I hope this post has inspired you to take your phone usage seriously, determining boundaries for when and how much you use it! If you make these changes, I think it will not only improve your marriage but might also improve your life!

Interested in a Bible study that will take you on an inspiring journey through the story of the birth of Christ? Then have I got the book for you! My Bible study, Messiah in a Manger, is on sale now and for a limited time leading up to the season of Advent. Click this link for the paperback that’s on sale for just $3.99 and click this link for the Kindle version that’s on sale for .99 cents

Then come and join me, going through this study with me and many others in a closed Facebook group. You’ll be able to interact virtually with me and the other participants, view my Facebook live videos that will discuss a summary of the notes and comments for the week, and will be given many other resources like FREE printables, templates and tools.

The study will kick off the week of December 6, 2020 and go for two weeks. It’s the perfect way to prepare your heart for Christmas! Click here to request to join this free group that’s forming now. 

Lastly, congrats to Mariel who won Kelly Balarie’s book, Rest Now, in my giveaway last week! Thanks to all of you who commented and support MM! 

Are you interested in a Bible study the examines the inspiring story of Christ's birth? It's sure to make this Advent season more inspiring and impactful than ever! #Bible #study #Biblestudy #Messiah #Scripture #Worthy #inspiration #inspirational #verses #truths #Christmas

I’ll be continuing the “Out of Balance” series next week, talking about how to balance television-viewing so that it doesn’t harm your marriage. I hope you’ll join me then too!


What’s another tip you can add for balancing phone usage in marriage? 


What are some of the other topics you’d like me to explore in this “Out of Balance” series?

15 responses to “How to Stop Being Controlled by Your Phone in Marriage”

  1. Beth,
    It’s truly sad when (pre-pandemic) we’d go out to eat and see a younger couple at a restaurant and both of them were on their cell phones. My husband and I would look at each other and ask, “What’s the point?” Even on our honeymoon six years ago, we were at a couples’ resort in paradise and there were other newlyweds, not interacting with each other, but on their cell phones. We left ours in the states and told family they could reach us the old fashionable way (in case of emergency) through the hotel phone. It was one of the best weeks of our lives! Love the idea of the phone basket and going silent 24/7. Had a good chuckle over the “first” apple that got us all in trouble lol. Great post!
    Bev xx


  2. Such a great reminder of the relational cost of overuse of phones! Thanks for sharing the stats on phone usage–I’ve noted this statistic for a current book project. I love the basket idea for putting phones aside for better conversation and attentiveness to others–especially our spouses.


  3. Sure, she’s on the phone a lot,
    but I don’t really mind,
    ’cause looking at the fearsome spot
    I’m in, it’s right and kind
    to give her space to stop and breathe,
    a semblance of a normal life
    from which caregiver gets relief,
    especially my well-loved wife.
    And I really don’t have very much
    to say about achieving
    the goals I reach for every day, such
    as that I keep on breathing.
    Cancer’s sure no gift, no prize,
    but you sure do learn to improvise.


  4. That’s interesting about bids. Something I’m careful to do when Sara talks to me (or looks like she’s about to) is close my book/phone/computer and give her proper attention.

    I wonder who your in-laws were discussing. Having a shared object of affection is a good way to bond, but perhaps they were discussing a film star?

    Smartphones and tablets are designed to be physically addictive. Many of the apps are basically spyware (FB, anything from Google).

    I never have the phone by me when I’m at home — it’s in the same room but on a bookshelf or sideboard away from where I’m sitting/working. And like you, I always have it on silent unless I’m on call.

    Love your “Messiah in a Manger” photo! A perfect Christmas read!


  5. Good morning, Beth! Your wise counsel hits home as we all fight some level of addiction to our phones. I am aiming to purposefully lay it down when my husband talks to me, not to bring it along like an unwelcome guest to the table, and to turn it off early evening.

    Some days are better than others!


  6. yes, such good truths! It is crazy that my man and I had a beeper when we first got married, over 20 years ago and now the small computer in our pockets call our attention continually! I have turned off notifications and yet it calls me. Date nights and dinner time is always a no phone zone in our house but it is a test of our attention span for sure. thank you for these truths and encouragement here.


  7. I think we can all get distracted by our phones from time to time, but I love this reminder to be intentional with the time you give your spouse. Great encouragement friend!


  8. “If you’ve given yourself permission to overuse or misuse your phone, then you are letting it master and control you” – ouch. Some much-needed home truths in this post, Beth. Phones can be so addictive especially since we do everything on them now. Thank you for the reminder to be intentional and the tips you shared.


  9. I really appreciate your application of scripture here. I see this is an issue in so many homes. I’ll be the first to admit that there are times when I spend too much time on social media or otherwise on my phone. However, I’ve learned that having one word (or made up word, right now mine is “undistractable”) to remind me of my actual desires for my day really helps. Additionally, within my circle of loved ones, we’ve created a space where immediate response to a phone text or call is not the norm. We each get to it when we can and when it doesn’t pull us away from important family moments. Thanks for sharing this Beth! I’m visiting today from the Purposeful Faith link up. Have a great week!


  10. How DID we survive in the pre-cell phone days? I don’t have too much of a problem of my husband using his cell phone at inappropriate times (and I don’t believe I do either), but I can use this Scripture and your corresponding tips to help me with my adult son’s cell phone use. I frequently become frustrated with his phone addiction, especially when he visits us with the grandchildren.


  11. We probably need reminding of this weekly. I’m probably worse about it than my husband is, at times anyway. I have learned to keep mine in silent mode more often when I’m spending time just with Jeff, but I don’t want to miss those Facetime opportunities when the grands call in the afternoon so I keep it on then. 🙂 Thanks for your dedication to keeping our marriages strong, Beth! I appreciate you.


  12. Beth, another powerful message even if it does step on most of our toes! Ouch! But the good ones always do, because they make us want to exchange a bad and destructive habit for a life-giving one. My contribution to our devotional for A Wife Like Me was on this very subject. My opening story told of my frustration on a date night with my husband and his phone. Then I realized I sometimes do the same thing.

    Now, I’m more intentional to be present with people on the other side of the room or table than those on the other side of a screen. Blessings, friend!


  13. These are great tips! Phones have so many advantages but they can also take over our lives if we’re not careful. It’s so important to put good habits in place so that they’re not controlling us!


  14. I love this so much, friend! I’ve found I really need to set boundaries regarding all screens during the evening time with my family or time with just my husband. Especially in the world of blogging, it’s easy to be swept into the constant need to check social media! I’m so thankful you are bringing this truth to the light!


  15. […] How to Stop Being Controlled by Your Phone in Marriage, Messy Marriage […]


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