If you are wondering how to help when my wife is addicted to her phone, you are probably not alone. In the age of fancy Smartphones and new technology, it is easy to become hooked on electronics, but a husband or wife addicted to a phone can damage a relationship.
Fortunately, there are solutions if your wife is addicted to her phone.
Is your wife phubbing you?
When you’re asking how to help when my wife is addicted to her phone, it is important to understand the concept of phubbing.
Phubbing, also called phone snubbing, occurs when you are trying to have a conversation with your wife, and instead of giving you her undivided attention, she is scrolling through her phone.
Phubbing is rude and offensive because it suggests that the person would rather be doing other things than talking to you.
If your wife frequently checks her email, scrolls through social media, or texts on her phone when you are trying to discuss or spend time with her, the chances are that you are in a phubbing relationship.
If your wife is addicted to her phone when you want to talk or enjoy quality time with her, this is the answer to what is phubbing.
If you are still wondering what is phubbing, you can think of it as a rude and dismissive act in which your wife dismisses you when you deserve time and attention in favor of scrolling through her phone.
If you are stuck wondering how to help when my wife is addicted to her phone, you may worry about phones ruining relationships. Unfortunately, being always on the phone can be harmful to a marriage or intimate relationship.
According to experts, people who value quality time in their relationships can feel rejected or even abandoned if their significant other is always on the phone.
This can lead to arguments when one partner feels that the other is choosing the phone in favor of spending quality time together.
Unfortunately, the most critical problem with cell phone addiction and marriage is that the phone is always present.
Historically, the concern over a partner flirting with or having an affair with someone else was only problematic when the partner was away from home.
Put more simply; there were only limited times when a person had to compete for their partner’s attention.
With the opportunity to be always on the phone, you may constantly be competing for your wife’s attention. This can lead to ongoing and seemingly constant conflict.
Being obsessed with the phone can sometimes point to larger issues, such as a partner having an emotional affair. If phone use occurs in secrecy or your wife attempts to hide her phone, she may be concealing conversations, she doesn’t want you to see.
While this is the most extreme form of phubbing, even less serious forms of phubbing, such as choosing to scroll through friends’ social media highlights, can be damaging and drive a wedge between you and your wife.
According to research, about half of people report their partners have phubbed them, and 23% say that phubbing leads to conflict. Even more disheartening is the fact that 36.6% of people say that phubbing has led to depression.
Is your wife suffering from nomophobia?
The term nomophobia or no mobile phone phobia is used to describe a psychological condition when people have a fear of being detached from mobile phone connectivity.
Two girls looking at phone
The term nomophobia is constructed on definitions described in the DSM-IV, it has been labeled as a “phobia for a particular/Specific thing”.
Various psychological factors are involved when a person overuses the mobile phone, e.g., low self-esteem, an extrovert personality.
If your wife continues to be obsessed with the phone despite negative consequences in your relationship, she may be struggling with nomophobia.
Some nomophobia symptoms are as follows:
Becoming anxious when the phone battery is about to die
Seeming anxious when unable to use the phone to look up information
Seeming stressed when not able to connect online to social media accounts
Checking for access to WiFi to use the phone, even when service is unavailable
Worrying about being somewhere without phone access
In addition to nomophobia symptoms, your wife may have signs of a phone addiction, which include:
1. Devoting more time to texting and posting on social media than interacting with people face-to-face
2. Spending more and more time on the phone, including in the middle of the night and when spending time with a significant other
3. Using the phone when it is dangerous to do so, such as while driving
4. Being unable to eat a meal without the phone on the table
5. Seeming uncomfortable when without cellphone service or if the phone is broken
6. Jeopardizing important areas of life, such as a relationship or job, because of being on the phone
7. Failing to cut back on phone use
8. Struggling to leave the house without the phone
9. Constantly checking the phone, even if it hasn’t rung or vibrated
10. Choosing to sleep with the phone under the pillow to avoid missing a message or notification
These ten signs suggest that your wife has lost the ability to manage her cell phone use even when it leads to phones ruining relationships.
Reasons your wife is spending so much time on her phone
If your wife is always on the phone, she truly may be addicted. As research explains, phones are pleasurable, and they create a response in the brain.
When your wife sees bright colors on her phone screen or receives a ding to alert her to a message, her brain releases dopamine, which is the “feel good” brain chemical.
This creates feelings of pleasure and reinforces the act of being on the phone, which is emotionally rewarding.
As others have explained, addiction is probably the top reason your wife is spending so much time on her phone. They are constantly available, and it is easy to be drawn to them.
Phones provide instant gratification and give us immediate access to information and social connection right at our fingertips.
Beyond simple phone addiction, there are several key reasons that your wife is always on her phone:
As previously stated, a cell phone provides instant gratification, making it a quick source of entertainment when you are bored. If your wife is obsessed with the phone, it may just be that she has made a habit of filling her time with phone use when she has nothing particularly exciting to do.
Your wife may think that you are busy with other things all the time, and she feels neglected. If it seems the two of you are not connecting, she may turn to the phone to soothe her feeling of being neglected.
If there are problems in the relationship or uncomfortable topics that may need to be discussed, your wife may be using the phone as an escape from dealing with these problems.
Maybe the two of you have unresolved conflict, but instead of addressing it and experiencing the pain of another fight, your wife turns to the phone.
While it certainly is not always the case, there are some situations when being obsessed with the phone is the result of an emotional affair that occurs over texting or social media.
Phones can easily lead to inappropriate relationships, in which two people flirt on social media or maintain a strong connection via texting or emailing. This is the worst-case scenario, but it is a possibility to consider.
Also watch: How is your phone changing you
How to stop phone addiction in your relationship?
If your wife is addicted to her phone and her phone seems more important than spending time with you, and her phone use is starting to create problems in the relationship, there are ways of how to stop phone addiction.
The first step in overcoming phone addiction is to find the source of the problem. For example, if your wife is turning to her phone out of boredom, you might discuss with her interesting activities the two of you can do together.
Overcoming your wife’s phone addiction begins with a conversation about the problem and the cause of it. Perhaps your wife doesn’t realize she is always on the phone.
Begin with a calm conversation in which you express to your wife that her phone obsession makes you feel neglected and dismissed.
When having this conversation, it is important to be empathetic and understanding. Communicate that you are concerned for your wife, too, because the phone addiction is negatively affecting her.
Be careful not to blame her, or she may become defensive. It can also be helpful to point out that your wife has positive qualities outside of her cell phone addiction.
For instance, you may compliment her that she is so devoted to her career, and you would hate to see the cell phone addiction hold her back from her goals.
After you have a conversation, some solutions for how to stop phone addiction are as follows:
Designate phone-free times throughout the day, such as during dinner time or while having conversations.
Agree to silence phones or turn off notifications for text messages, so you are only notified of important phone calls when you are together. This can eliminate distractions from phone notifications.
Set a good example; you cannot expect your wife to overcome nomophobia symptoms if you are always on the phone too. If you make an agreement to have phone-free times during your day, you must also stick to this agreement.
Increase the intimacy and connection in your relationship. If your wife is turning to social media for connection and to fill the void of intimacy that is lacking in the relationship, this should be rather easy to overcome. Take time to have meaningful conversations, and make an effort to hug her or give her a loving touch more often. If she gets the dopamine rush she needs from you; she will not need to turn to her phone for gratification.
Try strategies to break the habit of being hooked on the phone. For instance, it may be helpful for both of you to take a break from social media for a few weeks, so you do not have the option to be distracted by it.
Create a list of boundaries you will follow, such as no phones after bedtime, silencing the phone when out on a date, and putting the phone away while driving or having a conversation.
Suggest that your wife try alternative activities, such as relaxation techniques, going for a walk, or watching a show if she is tempted to scroll through her phone.
If having a conversation and employing these strategies is not helpful, your wife may need counseling to resolve cell phone addiction and marriage problems.
There are also apps you can download to track screen time and make an effort to reduce the time spent on the phone.
Cell phones have legitimate purposes, such as allowing you to manage your schedule or quickly send an email when you are away from work or on the road.
That being said, it is also possible for cell phones to become addictive, as they are constantly at our fingertips and provide us with instant excitement and gratification.
If your wife becomes hooked on her phone, this can lead to cell phone addiction and marriage problems. If this is the case, you may be wondering how to help when my wife is addicted to her phone.
Fortunately, an honest conversation, followed by setting boundaries around phone use, can generally resolve the problem.
It may not get better overnight, but by being supportive and understanding and approaching the concern in a loving and nonjudgmental way, you can communicate to your wife that her phone obsession is hurting the marriage.
Hopefully, by addressing your wife’s issue of always being on the phone, you will make her aware of the problem and prompt her to make changes.
If you find that this is not the case, marital counseling or therapy for her to address the underlying issues that led to phone addiction may be necessary.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Jenni Jacobsen is a licensed social worker with a master's degree in social work from The Ohio State University, and she is in the process of completing her dissertation for a Doctorate of Philosophy in Psychology. She has worked in the social work field for 8 years and is currently a professor at Mount Vernon Nazarene University. She writes website content about mental health, addiction, and fitness.
Licensed as both a social worker through Ohio Board of Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage/Family Therapists and school social worker through Ohio Department of Education as well as a personal trainer through American Council on Exercise.