Dr. Edward Hallowell and his wife, Sue, authors of Married to Distraction: Restoring Intimacy and Strengthening Your Marriage in an Age of Interruption, teach you how to spot hidden distractions in your relationship and reveal the mistakes you may not realize you're making.
"It's where you say, 'I'm just going to go check my e-mail,' and two hours later, you're still there," Dr. Hallowell says, noting that an interactive screen can suck you in and before you know it, hours have passed spending mindless time on the computer.
Don't become a victim to your own enthusiasm."It's when you have so many things that you put on your plate — volunteering, dealing with the kids, seeing your friends — that you really don't have time to pay attention to the things that you really need to pay attention to," Sue says. To become close to another person, you must pay attention. It's important to do this repeatedly over time.
3. No Boundaries
"The great thing about modern life is that we've broken down all boundaries. The danger about modern life is that we've broken down all boundaries," Dr. Hallowell says. "So, you're out to lunch with your best friend, and you take a call. So we're available anywhere, anytime to the world, which is great, as long as we're in charge, but when it's in charge of us, life goes out the window." Avoid this by turning off your electronic devices when you are with your spouse. Don't allow others to intrude upon your life with each other.
4. Getting Too Busy
This is when you are doing too many things at one time. "I'll be attending to everything else, and Ned will be like, 'Will you just spend a few minutes talking to me?'" Sue explains. Don't make yourself too busy during the day that when you get home all you want to do is check out and not connect with your partner.
5. Drifting Apart
It's a passive action, just allowing your relationship to wither away without taking action to stop it, or believing that you can take care of it at a later time. "Our message is that you absolutely do have a choice," Dr. Hallowell says. Sue adds that it's important to take control of your life instead of letting your life take control of you.
The Hallowells also advocate adding "play time" in your relationship. "Play is the action of love. Play is the reward. Play is what you do after you've done those first four, and you're together and you say, 'Hey, we're actually having fun!'" Dr. Hallowell says. "You can be having fun and spending no money. Just be together. It's fun. It's playful. It's what you did as kids. It's what you ought to do as adults, and we say play is the action of love."
For more from Dr. Hallowell and Sue, read:
Married to Distraction: Restoring Intimacy and Strengthening Your Marriage in an Age of Interruption