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“The stereotype is the husband buried in the morning newspaper at breakfast, preferring to read a news agency report of the latest scandal in a European government, the scores of yesterday’s athletic contests, and the opinions of a couple of columnists whom he will never meet rather than listening to the voice of the person who has just shared his bed, poured his coffee, and friend his eggs, even those listening to that live voice promises love and hope, emotional depth and intellectual exploration far in excess of what he can gather informationally from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the Christian Science Monitor put together.”

That somewhat dated quotation comes from Eugene Peterson, published in a book by R. Kent Hughes called Disciplines of a Godly Man in 1991. The chapter focused on how couples—and men in particular—let inanimate objects of lesser importance take them away from the immediate people around them, including their own spouse.

Fast forward 25 years, with the advent of the smartphone, and today men, women and children live in a distracted age. Smartphones are utterly dominant in culture, taking over once sacred spaces, including the dinner table and worship services. These phones (or at least we using them) have taken over every day spaces too, including drivers stopped at a traffic light and even people while in the bathroom.

Smartphones, if we are not careful, will become the number one thing preventing us from important things like prayer and time with your spouse. These tools of technology, of course, provide a huge convenience and offer many positives for families, including photograph/video opportunities. Moreover, the Internet of today is far more social than it was in its original form.

Yet too often, the tools of technology control us, not the other way around. Gandhi, of whom I am not an admirer, once said, “I do not hate technology. I hate the tyranny technology exercises over man.” If he only had lived to see today, imagine how shocked he might be.

Because of these tendencies, I recommend a few helpful hints, so smartphones don’t rob you and your spouse of time together.

Set it aside. If you’re like me, having your phone within reach is too tempting. Take time throughout the day to set it down, out of reach, so you won’t be tempted.

Set some ground rules. If you have children who have phones, you might consider setting a rule of “no phones at the dinner table,” or “give Mommy and Daddy your phone at night,” so the temptation to check the phone at all hours in not there.

Give it up. I spoke with a Christian lately who had become so addicted to her smartphone, she was spending 10 hours-plus a day on it. Part of this included work, but most did not. She realized that with her phone, she was gaining the whole world wide web, but at the same time she was losing her soul. In the end, she gave up use of her phone temporarily, so as to reconnect with their family and their life. God did answer her prayers, and their family life is much improved.

These are just some ideas that might help. What ideas have helped you?