When it comes to love, technology gets a bad rap. It isolates us, causes friction, drives a wedge between us. Technology is a swamp of temptation and bad behavior, right? Well, that can certainly be true. But you can just as easily leverage technology to your relationship’s advantage, creating ways to show devotion, share experiences and express affection. The small, meaningful exchanges technology can provide boost our sense of connection in the midst of busy lives. Here are 9 ways to use technology to enhance your relationship:
1. Set your terms. One furious partner sitting at dinner while the other texts is a very different scenario than two people happily munching on pizza and checking their respective emails. What works for each couple is different, so what’s important is that you are both comfortable. Talk to your partner so that you are in agreement on the issue, and set aside zones and times that will be tech-free, such as bedrooms, beds or dining tables.
2. Organize your rituals. If you’ll be away from your partner for an extended period, set up a regular time when you’ll make video calls via FaceTime or Skype. According to the Seattle-based Gottman Institute, which conducts research on relationships, “A stable, consistent connection you can rely on can overcome any distance.”
3. Text thoughtfully. Show your significant other that you are fully participating in a shared life with texts like, “Good luck on your presentation!” or “How did the kids’ dental appointment go?”
4. Send humor. A funny photo, Weird Al video, or image of cute quintuplets simultaneously giggling can lighten up a rough day.
5. Order some apps. “There’s a growing market for mobile apps designed to help couples stay closer,” TechCrunch’s Ryan Lawler reported, “all seeking to offer up a tight little social network for two.” Apps like Avocado help couples share to-do lists, upload photos and send notes, in a private way.
6. Divide and conquer. “With four kids in activities, we can’t be together all the time,” write K. Jason and Kelli Krafsky, a couple who have been married for 20 years and authors of Facebook and Your Marriage. They post pictures from the events the other partner isn’t at and use comments to make updates in real time. “Facebook helps us connect with each other and take part in our kids’ activities at the same time.”
7. Brag (a little). Think beyond “happy birthday” and “happy anniversary” posts on Facebook to occasionally share an update about your partner’s successes. Announcements like, “So proud of Judy for landing that client,” “My honey just started his new job at Paychex!” or “Ryan did the marathon in 3:20!” have a nice resonance effect.
8. Tweet sweet. Use direct messages on Twitter to stay in touch during the day, suggests Corey Allan in his article, “How to Use Twitter to Tweak Your Relationships at Home.” Because Tweets have to be so concise, you’re forced to leave out extra details, so “Send short messages, plan out an evening, ask them out on a date, write a poem, or simply write “I love you” 12.72 times.”
9. Scope out Pinterest. Pinterest has lots of recipes, but use the site’s search function and you’ll also easily find thousands of date ideas, such as creative dates, budget dates, stay-at-home dates. You can also get inspiration for beautiful love notes, suggestions for anniversary celebrations and even relationship tips (“8 Bible verses to strengthen your marriage,” “Daily Marriage Challenge,” and ways to “Love, Honor and Vacuum.”) You’re guaranteed to find something you’ll want to try out with your honey.
Kathryn Drury Wagner is a freelance editor and writer based in Los Angeles. Her book for young readers, Hawaii’s Strangest, Ickiest, Wildest Book Ever! came out last fall.