It is the small things that can determine whether a relationship is toxic or healthy; they are often things we don’t recognize, details that we don’t give much attention to, and yet gestures that matter. “عايزة ورد يا إبراهيم” (‘Ibrahim, I want flowers’) was not just a catchy pickup line once said in a Hend Sabri movie, it was a portrayal of how small things can create big problems. Almost every Egyptian woman has sent a grocery text before, and every Egyptian man has at some point received one, we talked to psychologist Ehab Youssef about why couples should avoid this type of digital communication.
What threats does excessive texting in relationships pose?
When two people get used to talking through a machine, they strip their conversations of any emotion. Texting kills body language and so when they come to communicate in real life they adopt the texting attitude in their face-to-face interaction, something that leaving them with a void that they can’t fill.
How traumatizing is the shift from love texts to “bring bread/Oil/Green beans…”?
Most of the time what matters in a relationship isn’t what you say but how you say it. Grocery texting kills the intimacy of communication because it makes the process a question of what and not how.
If a partner anticipates that every time he gets a notification it is a grocery list or something regarding the household, what does that mean for the relationship?
It creates an atmosphere of immediate gratification and kills any chances of spontaneity. When couples get used to texting and thinking before typing, they are unlikely to mouth what is on their minds or think out loud without any previous calculations.
What is a partner likely to feel if these texts become frequent?
Gradually a partner starts feeling that he/she is taken for granted and that the other person isn’t putting in much effort to express affection or care. If the wife cultivates the idea that she only needs her husband for grocery shopping and similar tasks, this lack of romance is likely to threaten his manhood. On the other hand, if a man adopts this attitude with his wife, she is very likely to feel that she isn’t appreciated as a woman as it will promote the stereotype of women being house-maids who are only needed for cleaning and cooking. Both ways, the two parties are self-sabotaging their marriage with this type of communication.
What language techniques can couples adopt to develop their communication?
They should always talk from their perspective; use ‘I statements’ and refrain from using ‘you’. Saying ‘I really wanted you to get the groceries today’ is totally different from ‘why didn’t you get the groceries today?’. It is the same case with ‘I really wanted you to cook today’ instead of ‘Why didn’t you cook today?’ Using words like ‘please’ or ‘Can you maybe get me…’ instead of direct orders certainly matters.
When partners come to disclose their feelings, they should describe their needs as requests and not rights. They should also try to talk about specific situations and behaviors and avoid generalizations and words like ‘always’ and ‘never’.
For more information and psychology tips follow Psychologist Ehab Youssef on his Facebook Page.