Disengaging from the Cell Phone to Re-Engage Your Family – Engaged Marriage

Disengaging from the Cell Phone to Re-Engage Your Family

By Dustin | Communication

Put Your Cell Phone AWAY During DATE NIGHTThis morning, I went through my normal wake up routine, which puts my cell phone in my hand within the first three steps of my feet hitting the floor.

This quick grab of the cell allows me to check my email on my way to the bathroom to handle the normal wake up stuff.

After leaving the bathroom, I head down stairs and jump back on my cell to check my favorite news sites.

Once my wife and son wake up, I go back upstairs to greet my family with a kiss.

This is about the time that I begin playing with my son, as my wife now begins the routine of checking her important overnight emails and texts.

After hitting a few golf balls and kicking around the  soccer ball in the hallway or crashing around Matchbox cars on imaginary trips to the ice cream store, my son will ask to see my phone.

He will begin, at daddy’s insistence, with educational math and reading games. But eventually he will move over to daddy’s golf and racing games when he thinks no one is watching.

Where’s the Quiet Time?

This detailed recollection about my daily morning routine comes on the heels of my first thoughts as I lay in bed this morning staring at the ceiling:

  • Where has my time to just think to myself gone?
  • What happened to the early morning quiet time I used to enjoy with my wife?

And the answer is…

My quiet time and time for inner thoughts have gone the way of the busyness of life, largely fed by my technologically “wired” dependence.

I estimate that on a typical day I will spend a collective 4-5 hours texting, tweeting, listening to music, making notes, updating my to-do list, gaming and occasionally actually talking on my phone.

Let me pause here for a second.

This post is not about how cell phones are ruining our lives or marriages because all of our phones have an on/off switch, and as of today they have not come up with an app that makes us involuntarily use them, against our will – as of today.

Rather, this is an examination of how cell phones and technology in general can be allowed to replace looking each other in the eye and having a meaningful conversation with our spouses – if we allow it.

It is an examination that begins within, as I am personally coming to a recognition that my wife and I spend more time engaging our smartphones than we do engaging each other.

It is a self-examination that leads me to declare it is time to make some changes. So here are some of the boundaries that I have identified to dis-engage from my cell and re-engage my wife in conversation.

How to Re-Engage with Your Spouse

Don’t Answer the Phone.

Like every family nowadays our entire family is ripping and running all day, every day.

The only window of quiet time that we as a family can pretty routinely count on is Saturday morning.

To get the most of this small window of quiet time we do not accept phone calls on Saturday mornings before 10am. It is a small thing, but it gives the family at least one morning to lounge around and hang out together – uninterrupted.

No Cell Phone Zone.

We only take “necessary” calls when we are in the car together (hands-free of course). This is a little bit of a personal pet peeve.

When we are in the car together, if one person is on the phone, then everyone else in the car becomes a hostage. The radio has to be turned down, the conversation that was occurring has to cease.

It is annoying – did I mention this is a pet peeve of mine. By not taking calls while we are in the car together, we gain a few minutes where we can talk about life or just enjoy the ride together.

Schedule Talk Time.

Find something to read together and block out some time to talk about it. Time may not permit you and your spouse to actually sit down and read together, but agree on what and how much you will read.

Then meet at the local coffee shop or go for a walk and talk about it.

Just find a distraction free place and time to talk about what you have been reading and watch how the relationship and conversation flourishes.

Turn your cell phone on silent when you get home.

Unless you are on call, or you know an important call is coming at a specific time, try to turn your phone on silent when you leave work.

I have found that by doing this, my wife knows that regardless of whatever important things are going on, my family remains the most important.

In addition, take inventory of how many of those missed calls actually did not require immediate attention anyway.

Don’t bring it to the dinner table.

As I confessed earlier, I am a heavy cell user. So I keep a charger at work and one at home.

Recently, I have begun charging my phone while I eat dinner with my family or shoot hoops with my son.

Not only does it recharge my phone, but it also ensures that when I spend time with my family, it remains their time and not borrowed time between phone calls.

These are just my personal parameters and suggestions.

But how about you Engaged Marriage family…how do you ensure that you remain more engaged with your spouse than with technology?


Edward C. Lee an Ordained Christian Minister, creator of the  Elevate Your Marriage blog and author of Husbands, Wives, God: Introducing the Marriages of the Bible to Your Marriage.


About the Author

Dustin Riechmann created Engaged Marriage to help other married couples live a life they love (especially) when they feel too busy to make it happen. He has many passions, including sharing ways to enjoy an awesome marriage in 15 minutes a day, but his heart belongs with his wife Bethany and their three young kids.

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(12) comments

I love the idea of not talking on the phone with others in the car: that is annoying. We choose not to have internet on our phones and rarely text so that really cuts down on the phone time for both of us!


Good topic. This has been a sore spot in our home in recent times, and I finally decided to leave my phone in my home-office when I get home and not bring it out. Sure, I slip up here and there, but overall, it’s been a tremendous improvement in my ability to focus on my family and without the distractions.

I also liked with the discussion of quiet time. I found that by no longer having the phone in the bedroom when I go to bed (it used to be my alarm, but they now make these cool things called alarm clocks!) I wake up and go straight into my quiet time, and my day goes better. My mind is quieter, if you will.

These phones are causing our brains to become A.D.D. I really believe that. The less we’re on them, the greater our ability to focus at home, at work and in life.

Great post!


Great, great thoughts. I have actually of late been very conscious of my cell phone use at home. Not sure what the trigger was, but I noticed myself doing exactly what you talked about. For me it was Twitter and I was looking there constantly rather than looking at my children or my wife!

I love the tips here. Put it on silence. It has become easier for me to leave it as I keep doing some of these things. Which is encouraging!

My 4yr old loves to play games on mine too. She can’t understand why she can’t play with it sometimes. We try hard to explain to her (in the best terms a 4yr old can understand) that we want to enjoy each other and talk. Especially in the car.

Last thing, what I’ve noticed lately is that “talk time” is more natural and doesn’t have to be scheduled when we simply restrict the distractions. As you said, I too love my family way more than my stupid phone. Thanks again!


One of my “peeves” is not enough silent time or conversation time in our home, for different reasons. If you think an iPhone is addictive, an iPad is even worse! So, I loved this article.

I do have to defend my phone conversations in the car; they are not very often (maybe once or twice a month), and as a busy mom whose kids don’t nap or synchronize naps when they do, the time where my husband is driving and my kids are in the back seat not interrupting (like they are as I type this) is the only guaranteed time I can talk to my sister who lives in another state at a decent hour uninterrupted. To me, the radio can hold a car hostage just as easily as a phone conversation, especially if the Cardinals are playing. So, if phone conversations are banned, it seems fair to ban sports radio and talk radio in general, too. Or, to me, the better solution is to just be moderate about both, allowing time for conversations, ballgames, singing along, and even silence once in a while.

Denee King

Such great advice! For those of us who grew up without all the instant access it’s easier to not feel like the cell phone is an appendage but for those who are growing up without even knowing that a time existed without this technology it has to be a conscious decision. Thank you for sharing this discussion.


    Remember when phones – rang, like ring-ring.


[…] Disengaging from the Cell Phone to Re-Engage Your Family: HANG UP and be a husband and father! […]


[…] Seriously.  As soon as you finish reading this article, you should definitely go over to Disengaging from Your Cell Phone  to check out some of the simple ways you can start setting healthy boundaries for technology in […]


My husband is on his cell, playing his Kingdom game, literally 99% of the time he is off work, and also during his breaks and lunch while at work. It is destroying our marriage! Videogames like Xbox and such are bad enough, but a cell phone game goes everywhere you do… So there really is no private time, date time, dinnertime, etc… And I thought it was horrible that he spends at least 8 hours a day watching Fox News. At least they don’t go along with us 24 hours per day… Neither of these addictions are healthy, and they are taking their toll. All I get are excuses and anger when trying to talk to him about what it’s doing to us. Lonely 🙁


    I am with you Mindy 🙁 it’s awful. I pointed out that he can’t even leave his phone behind and it is not even shameful for him, he just says he has to be on it for a few minutes. So I am there bored and sometimes then it leads to me to go on my phone. Then when I tell him how much I hate that he is always on it, he tells me I am on Facebook…. I don’t know what I am supposed to do while his face is glued to the screen. Same game too, Kingdom empire… I have been praying that I am patient but it has caused a lot of turmoil in our marriage lately. What can I do?! It even goes on dates with us and in the middle of opening Christmas gifts… I can barely handle it.


[…] and nothing else. Therefore, ship the kids off to spend the night with a trusted adult and then turn off your cell phone. There should be no phone calls, texts or emails exchanged with the outside world during this time, […]


My wife has found new friends at church. She’s on her cell phone constantly now, texting, emailing, facebook, Instagram. She’s 40. I’m 50. We have 5 children (4 at home)
Is it wrong to think that her disconnect from our marriage is a sign of things down the road (dreaded D word)?
Still saying I love you but not showing it by being disconnected from me.

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