We enter marriage with preconceived ideas as to what constitutes a good couple. These standards are derived from what we learned about marriage from our parents or other couples we observed in our childhoods. It is also based on society and social media. Think about it. We watch television shows and movies that may portray marriage as difficult but it seems easy to work through the difficulties.

What couple doesn’t look happy with a great life on social media? The vacation photos make you wish your marriage was that seamless and easy. Often you find out that these same supposed happy perfect couples are divorcing, sometimes with great acrimony. The problem is that our brains store the images of the fairytale marriage. When we start to analyze our own marriage, it feels as if it is falling apart.

How many of you have ever felt that your spouse’s phone was more important than you? Couples can be lying in bed together, and yet are so entrenched in their electronic devices that they are barely paying attention to the other spouse. What happens Is that our brain becomes so attached to receiving immediate feedback from an electronic device that talking to our spouse becomes strained, redundant and we often have nothing left to talk about. People also get attention from social media and feel falsely connected to people. Therefore, they don’t try to get their needs met by their partner. This is analogous to the beginning of your relationship with your spouse. When you have relationships with people by texting or talking to them, it feels as if you are accepted for who you are and that you can talk about things without judgment or criticism. But when it comes to talking to your spouse, the conversation is much harder because couples bring feelings into their conversations. Certain discussions can trigger pain or something painful from the past.

The spouse then goes back to using social media such as texting friends from high school because they feel accepted and it is a lower stress communication. It is most certainly easier to have a conversation where little to no emotion is involved.

During the past 27 years, every couple I have seen says that the other spouse has a tone when they talk. Social media, texting, and telephone communication can be devoid of tone when the topic does not involve feelings or emotions. However, relationships formed on social media do not breed connection, vulnerability, acceptance, and feeling important. When you learn to speak with your spouse more and put away social media you actually do better in life and feel more content. We are a nation that has never been so depressed or so quick to pick up an addiction. If you really think about it we need a real connection in order to feel whole. We need to learn how to embrace feeling connected but not having the conversation go as easy as it does with other people. We all are seeking true acceptance. Social media has negatively impacted our ability to pay attention in our relationships. Spouses seek immediate reinforcement from the other spouse, which leads to feeling cared about and important. The sad part is that the person that heavily engages in social media is feeling the same way but they just use social media as a quick fix to feel better in the short term. Studies have shown that social media and texting impacts brain chemicals, such as the release of dopamine.

This can work the opposite way when you fear being rejected on social media regarding something you posted or perhaps a text you sent. The lack of a response, a negative response or simply the fear of either may trigger feelings of rejection, which is painful. What happens at a young age is that we fear rejection and carry that feeling throughout our lives even when intellectually we know we shouldn’t have such a feeling. There have been studies where people have been known to become more depressed when regularly utilizing social media. Yet, we have become so addicted to a quick response or false reinforcement that our brains have become wired against meaningful interpersonal relationships which really would provide us the most fulfillment.

I encourage you to put down your phones, tablets, IPads, Television, and all social media and turn towards your spouse or a loved one and build your relationship. In the long run, you will be much happier and more fulfilled.