Married and Texting? Just Stop!May 23, 2021
I love texting as much as the next person. It is such a convenient way for me to let people know I’m running ten minutes late (which I always am). But I can’t tell you how destructive it can be when used as the primary means of communicating with your significant other.
It is quick and convenient, but here’s why texting isn’t effective communication:
- Non Verbal Communication
We’ve all heard it said that 80% of communication is non-verbal. This is the stuff beyond the words being communicated, like tone of voice, facial expressions, etc. All of this is used to help us understand what someone means by what they are saying. And all of it is lost via text. Emojis are fun, but even they can be misconstrued.
- Inferring and Projecting
Because all of the non-verbal communication is lost via text the receiver of the text is left to fill in the blanks beyond the words. It is human nature to infer, to project when left with incomplete information. If you can’t hear the tone in someone’s voice, see the look on their face those are blanks that have to be filled in. What is the emotional state of the relationship? Those blanks can either be filled in with benefit of the doubt or prickly defensiveness.
- Knee Jerk Responses
Texting creates a sense of urgency. There is a cultural expectation that we need to immediately respond to a text. Like Pavlov’s dog we hear that ‘ding’ pick up the phone, read, respond. This leaves very little time for processing, for giving your partner the benefit of the doubt, for choosing your words carefully.
I see it each and every day with my clients. A couple fuming over some misunderstanding via text. The story often begins “so s/he texted blah, blah, blah.” The very first thing to be addressed is how texts are being used in the relationship. If you ever find that arguments start because a text exchange make a pact – do not text anything other than objective, loving messages.
Here are the types of texts that are appropriate:
- Can u pls get milk?
- On my way be thr in 5
- I love you!
- miss you
For any topic that requires discussion, any decision making, agree to call each other. Or better yet agree to wait to talk until you see each other next – you know in person where you can see all of that non-verbal communication.
And if at any point a text exchange heads into the ditch just stop! You know that moment, when you read a text and find yourself thinking, “hmmm, what does that mean?” The second that thought enters your mind stop. Call a time out on the texting and talk!
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