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Confessions: My wife spends more time on her phone than with me

Readers Lounge By Simon and Boke
These days, I feel like I am competing with my wife’s phone for her attention (Photo: Shutterstock)

These days, I feel like I am competing with my wife’s phone for her attention. Before she got a smartphone, we had many good times and memories together. Now all she seems to care about is chatting in some strange women’s groups and I really don’t know who else. Sometimes, it seems as if she is chatting with men but when I ask her, she says she is following conversations in some chat groups she belongs to. I feel bad because she seems to be addicted to chatting and I feel that we are losing our intimacy because of this. I want her attention back and at the same time, I don’t want to seem insecure or manipulative.

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What the readers say:

There is no crime in making your feelings known. If the phone is the problem, take it from her, hold it behind your back and tell her you are not returning the phone until she listens to what you are going to tell her. No matter her reaction, use that opportunity to let your feelings known to her. If she remains indifferent, then you can confirm the worst of your fears.

{Tasma Saka}

Phone addiction is slowly becoming a chronic and longterm ailment. When you are out seeking for solutions to your problem, never mind what others are saying about you. As you have stated, this is an issue and it has nothing to do with feeling insecure. Try and sit down with her and explain your source of concern. Should she be ready to listen, settle for a middle ground. Otherwise, something fishy could be going on here.

{Ouma Ragimo}

Try and approach her in person and share your concerns. Remind her that you need her attention. Ask her to share what she is looking at. If she has been watching porn or chatting with men, she may decline to let you access her phone. Or you can agree to do phone sharing so you can access each other's phones.

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{Onyango Outha}

Boke says:

Dear Lawrence,

Technology has revolutionised the social space. It has immense benefits, but just like any other innovation it is subject to abuse. Steadily we are seeing the use of mobile phones taking over the lives of individuals and families.

It is ironical that this tool of communication and connection has ended up being a medium of isolation. Human connection is fading away and the virtual world is becoming the new reality.

One of the reasons is because the social media connections come with no responsibilities, we do not know or understand where they are at in life. Or how they are truly fairing on. So they are light relationships with no baggage as it were. In other words one does not have to deal with the other person’s woes of life.

Secondly with the social media, individuals in a dire need of attention are able to project their world of fantasy thus numbing the pain that they could be going through. The likes and positive comments can be a pacifier for them.

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All this being said does not mean that you cannot get your wife back. Awaken your creative genius. This is as simple as you complementing her. Give flowers. Give meaningful eye contact and physical touch. Just make her feel special and noticed. Nothing should beat you to this.

She probably needed your attention at some point but you were unavailable. So offer it in surplus. I’m not asking you to act out but show genuine interest. Gradually you will win her over then you can begin to set rules for yourselves, such as on how long one can be on social media when you are together and slowly shrink that time.

Hilda Boke Mahare has a background in counselling psychology

Simon says:

Lawrence, you may already be in a three-some with your wife and her phone and this is a situation that many people find themselves in during this era of smartphones.

Innovative social media applications are contributing a lot to making people less intimate since more time is spent either reading or responding to chat messages from mobile devices. Many are guilty of this growing vice and it is causing untold strain in many relationships some even leading to seperation or divorce.

The problem is that whenever the other party raises an issue with the other spending too much time on their phone, the party under question often becomes overly defensive and asks questions such as, "Who doo you think I am chatting with?", "Do you think I am cheating on you?" or make statements such as, "If I wanted to cheat on you, I wouldn't do it on phone!" Such questions or statements only aggravate the situation by breeding feelings of resentment and underlying bitterness towards the other party.

You are indeed justified to question the excessive use of her mobile phone. Everybody is entitled to some degree of privacy, especially with regard to their mobile phones but these gadgets should not eat into a space or time that is considered to be intimate. In addressing this issue, the focus should not be more on the people the other person is chatting with but more on how this practice makes you feel. Any person is bound to feel hurt and distressed if their spouse spends excessively long periods of time on their phone regardless of whether they were browsing the internet, chatting with a secret lover or watching videos from comrade groups.

The approach you use is what will determine the results you get with her. Rather than show signs of mistrust and suspicion, appeal to the emotional part of your relationship. Acknowledge that, indeed, she has to keep checking for work emails, text messages, etc. but also point out that she often appears distant towards you and probably the children. Make it clear that you are not jealous but just need more of her attention when you are together.

Simon Anyona is a relationships counsellor

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