If you haven’t heard the term yet, well, that’s because it’s pretty new. But as someone who has lost their family’s conversational connection to the pings and tweets of the devices we all use every day, the struggle is real! You might be able to relate and maybe you would like to make a change. Follow along as I describe my transformation into becoming a Tech Widow but, most importantly, how I stopped being one!
Years ago, I didn’t know what it was like to be a Tech Widow. That is until I married an Early Adopter. An Early Adopter is someone whose love of gadgetry always has him or her on the lookout for the next best thing. They are always on the front lines of a cutting edge technology and can go by other clever names like Techie, Geek or sometimes even self-described as a Gadget Freak.
Early Adopters like my hubby saw the writing on the wall or the arrangement of the pixels as it were for emerging technologies.
He was the first person I met with a Smartphone. Like others, he saw how these modern pieces of metal and plastic, which fit into your pocket, would change the way we communicate and transform how we share moments and thoughts with just the tap of a finger. While I couldn’t see past my AOL Messenger and continued to IM, people like my husband were checking their emails on small handheld devices and sending texts rather than dialing a phone.
Fast forward to years after the invasion began, I found myself focusing on the evolution of something else… my husband’s nightstand. Where a glass of water and the latest Newsweek used to lie was now a continuous growing collection of devices that seemed to multiply monthly. With the ability to follow up on an email, check the latest football scores or settle an argument about who starred in what movie, there was so much this swipe of a screen had given us. However, the marketers that encouraged upgrading and purchasing of even more megabytes and minutes forgot to mention one big thing – what we would lose in the process.
This was my slippery slope into becoming a Tech Widow. Hubby no longer seemed to be able to have a conversation without a device in his hand, which he would glance at with increasing frequency. Eventually, it progressed into an opened laptop that put more distance between us than the quarter thickness of its screen.
It didn’t happen overnight and truth telling – I kinda sorta let it happen. I didn’t rant and rave about this lack of attention. I made excuses for him when he couldn’t seem to put his phone away in front of others. I reminded myself that he loved me and his obsession was putting food on the table and a roof over our heads. I also began to enjoy the benefits of carrying one small book-shaped thing when we traveled versus the ten books that always put me over the weight limit. And who doesn’t love a digital shopping list you’re unlikely to lose or the school nurse’s ability to always reach you?
But it was when we both would sit side-by-side not speaking, instead staring at our little blinding white screens, that I started thinking about our relationship before the tech-invasion. We used to talk about our day during dinner, even if it was boring, or maybe watch a TV show together – you know, the ones where you had to wait a whole week to see the next episode. We would have interesting conversations and use actual spoken words while looking into each other’s eyes across the bread basket.
That time was before these little conveniences made their way onto our dinner table. It now appeared that we could not bear the idea of being unreachable or go without regular updates on the news or laughing out loud at adorable kitten pictures for as long as took to eat a plate of spaghetti.
I realized I had a choice. I could either stay on board and continue to ride this tech-train or fight my widowhood and ensure that my children would not become tech-orphans by reclaiming my husband from Techdom.
But how does one do this? The devices were already inside the walls, and I have no power over the allure of the internet!
It wasn’t easy, especially since hubby successfully presides over a little corner of the Tech World – a corner that has paid for our home and ensured a secure future for our children. While his obsession was keeping us in the black, it was stealing my best friend and soul mate’s attention. So with hubby more preoccupied than ever and our little minis following in his footsteps with their tablets and phones, I saw the truth of our situation. That is – I would have to be the unpopular one!
Feeling like the Grinch at Christmas knowing I was about to steal their “joy,” I did something simple.
I made some rules…
• NO tech allowed at the dinner
table as actual speaking conversations are a must!
• During the evening, text and call alerts should be the only sound your device can make. We do not need to hear that you have a tweet every few minutes. It is distracting to the rest of the family.
• Set time limits for devices and stick to them: kids and parents alike.
• Schedule any important family conversations. If I need my husband’s undivided attention, I ask him and wait until he can separate from the device. Then we talk.
These are a few of our agreed on rules, so I suggest you incorporate these savers or set your own. My name might be a dirty word in your house for a couple of days, but soon you should feel your family reconnecting.
So go find your partner and pry his phone out of his hand and hug him like you haven’t seen him in years. Then you can talk to him about your upcoming tech rules…
Casey Adolfsson is a mother of two, a recovering Tech Widow who is still happily married to a Tech Titan, and the author of Merciful, available now on amazon. Read more from her and her wit at CaseyAdolfsson.com