MOTUNRAYO JOEL writes on ways spouses with phone addiction can be helped by their partners to stop the habit
Psychologists say phone addiction is a behaviour that can threaten any marriage.
This situation manifested in the marriage of a businesswoman, Mrs. Tope Alabi, who said phone addiction nearly destroyed her seven-year marriage.
She said, “The fault was from me. I was
addicted to my phone. I am glad I dealt with it. The habit almost cost me my marriage. If I wasn’t chatting on Facebook, it was WhatsApp; I was glued to my phone. Whenever my husband gets home from work, I would spend 10 minutes talking with him and then pick up my phone to browse. It was that bad. I gave him little attention.”
Alabi said it took several months before she was able to stop the habit which she described as a bad one.
“I went as far as deactivating data subscription on my phone. Whenever I am with my husband, especially at night, I turn off my phone. There were times I was tempted to pick up the habit,’’ she said.
Relationship experts say addiction can be one of the most difficult situations facing married couples. They note that living with an addicted spouse can be difficult, adding that many marriages end in separation or divorce when the person struggling with phone addiction doesn’t stop it.
Unlike Alabi, who was able to stop the behaviour, the husband of a mother of four, Mrs. Tosin Mohammed, is yet to stop the habit.
She stated that on several occasions, she had considered moving out of her matrimonial home, “I detested the way he spent hours on his phone rather than with me.”
Despite all entreaties Mohammed said she made to her husband to do away with the habit, she said she was unhappy in her marriage.
“My friends advised me to give my husband some time to change, but I told myself that if he doesn’t quit addiction to his phone, I will leave him,” she said.
A cloth designer, Mr. Rotimi Kolawole, who was once addicted to his phone, said the behaviour cost him valuable time and money.
He said there were times he was on his phone for hours. Kolawole said rather than focus on the pending assignments, he could be browsing on his phone for hours and begin to rush the work before the close of work.
“The habit was ruining my life, job and marriage. I focused on nothing else other than my phone. I loved my phone,” he said.
Kolawole said he had to go for counselling when he discovered that it was not something he could stop on his own.
According to a website, PsychGuides, phone addiction, sometimes referred to as problematic mobile phone use, is a behavioural addiction thought to be similar to that of an Internet, gambling, shopping or video game addiction and leads to severe impairment or distress in one’s life.
PsychGuides further stated that with the emergence of smart phones and social media, there had been an increase of stress on romantic and familial relationships.
Psychologists opined that neglect due to excessive smart phone use had a negative impact on mental health.
A businessman, Mr. Ransome Harrison, attested to feeling mentally stressed throughout the years he was addicted to his phone.
“I was always having a headache and mentally, I felt stressed. I have come to realise that phone addiction adds no value to one’s life,” he said.
Speaking on the issue, a psychologist, Dr. Valentine Ezeh, said the first step was not to blame the spouse addicted to phone if one was willing to help him or her stop the habit.
He said one should avoid degrading the spouse for the addiction.
Ezeh added, “It would make matters worse. Communication when dealing with addiction is important. If you fail to communicate in the marriage, your relationship will soon be on the rocks. Get your husband or wife to tell you why he or she is addicted to his or her phone. Be nice to him or her and you might find the reason behind his or her addiction.
“If you want his or her undivided attention to you, then you have to work towards it. No matter what he or she does or whether your spouse is with his or her gadget, start up a conversation on something that he or she will find an interest in. Get your spouse to talk about it and interact with you. This is the best way to get his or her attention, and away from the phone.”
Another psychologist, Mr. Orjiakor Tochukwu, advised couples to be honest with each other. He said if one was offended by the attitude of one’s spouse, one should not hide one’s feelings about it.
“When you are honest with your partner, there is much you can do to better your marriage. By opening up and telling him or her that such behaviour – phone addiction – annoys you, it might get him or her to explain to you why he or she is acting that way,” he said.
Also, a psychologist, Dr. Uzondu Nwachinemere, said fostering a loving and caring environment could help a spouse to stop phone addiction.
“It is important to remember that you must foster a loving and caring environment if you like your partner to respond positively. This kind of environment will create trust, moving forward,” he said.
On his part, a psychologist at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Mr. Onyishi Ernest, identified patience as the only solution to phone addiction.
He said stopping phone addiction could take months. Ernest stated, “You may be anxious for your partner to change, but change often takes place gradually. It will take time for your partner to realise his or her behaviour is harming your marriage. It can take time for recovery to work or for partners to find a path of recovery that works for them.
“During this time, you may feel frightened or impatient. But you will need to cultivate a great deal of patience, both for your partner and yourself, while helping your addicted spouse.”
Ernest further noted that phone addiction could strain and even destroy marriages, especially when only one person was struggling with the problem.
Give the people in your life the gift of your presence by putting down your mobile phone device — Author, kate Northrup