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Couples have conflicts over cell phone activity. What does it mean?

When one member of the couple spends a lot of time on social media, answering text messages and phone calls and the other member of the couple is angry about it, this is a problem that should not be ignored.

Issues that develop from this kind of problem include but not limited to:

Chronic insecurity, lack of trust, dysfunctional communication or reduction in communication, resentment, passive-aggressive behavior, abuse, changes in relationship dynamics, stress and eventually, termination of the relationship. Could it get worse than this? Yes, it can.

What should be done about it?

  • Evaluate the importance of the relationship

If the relationship is more trouble than it is worth to you, you should terminate the relationship:

  • Stress can be unhealthy for you. If the relationship is affecting your health you should consider terminating it or fixing it.
  • Too much drama in your life can affect other family members, your job, your health and your peace of mind. In extreme cases, can result in incarceration, job termination, home eviction and children turned over to Child Protection Agencies.  When these things occur or come close to it, you should ask yourself-is your significant other’s behavior a “deal breaker”?
  • If you have little to lose by letting the relationship go, that means that the relationship has little value to you. You can’t be in and develop a relationship that is fulfilling with someone else if you continue to remain in a relationship that is not fulfilling and troubling.
  • Concern about hurting the feelings of the significant other when you terminate the relationship is not going to change. You will always care about that.  If that concern has caused you to hold on longer than you should have, get help from a trusted and wise friend or consult with a therapist
  • Investments in time and assets concerning this relationship may cause you to hang in there longer than you should.

If the relationship is valuable to you and you want to save it:

  • Be honest with your significant other about what their behavior is doing to you and give them an opportunity to change. Be patient, change does not happen overnight.
  • Decide if you are willing to change. If you are, be patient, change does not happen overnight.
  • Establish boundaries:
    • Limit cell phone activity to certain hours or certain activities.
    • Collaborate on the right to privacy in the relationship. You must both agree on the terms.
    • What behaviors are you not willing to tolerate from your significant other? Express your limitations with the kind of respect that you would demand if the shoe were on the other foot.
    • Professional help is available. Use it. To find a couple’s therapist, consult with your insurance company or job EAP for a referral.  If you don’t have those resources, Google a couple’s therapists in your area.

Couples counseling is never a bad idea. When you don’t want to hurt your significant other’s feelings or if you have time and assets invested in the relationship and you want to try everything you can before terminating the relationship, counseling is a great option.

It is recommended that you attend an individual counseling session before starting couples counseling which would allow you to explore any distortions in your own cognitive processes or issues from your past that may contribute to your thoughts and feelings about your current relationship.

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