When you and your spouse have disagreements, whether it’s over who does more work around the house, or other issues including finances and taking care of the kids, do you rely on texting to resolve your differences? You may want to rethink this strategy, according to a new study that says couples who let their thumbs do the talking when it comes to serious conversations, disagreements or apologies may be more likely to eventually split up or divorce.
To explore the impact of texting on committed relationships, Brigham Young University researchers studied 276 younger adults around the country. Among the participants, 38 percent said they were in a serious relationship, 46 percent were engaged and 16 percent were married. Each participant completed an extensive relationship assessment that included questions about their use of technology in the relationship.
Among the highlights from the report they published this week in the Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy:
– Approximately 82 percent of respondents report texting with their partner multiple times a day.
– For women: Using text messages to apologize, work out differences or make decisions is associated with lower relationship quality.
– For men: Too frequent texting is associated with lower relationship quality.
When relationship quality is lower, that relationship may not last, of course. But what does texting have to do with it?
“Reaction to disappointment and reality testing occurs more quickly face to face,” one of the researchers said in a press statement. “There is a narrowness with texting and you don’t get to see the breadth of a person that you need to see.”
In other words, if it’s a woman who has just apologized via text, or expressed why her feelings were hurt by her partner, texting the answer may not provide with the same physical clues in terms of tone or body language that she could get from a face-to-face meeting.
For men, researchers found that they don’t just get tired of receiving texts; their relationship satisfaction is also lower when they send a lot of texts themselves.
“We’re wondering if this means men disconnect and replace in-person conversations with more texting,” the researchers noted. “Maybe as they exit the relationship, they text more frequently because that’s a safer form of communication. We don’t know why, that is just a conjecture.”
Some good news? Almost all participants indicated that expressing affection via text actually enhances the relationship. This means all those I <3 U texts probably help, not hurt, your relationship. In fact, sending a loving text was even more strongly related to relationship satisfaction than receiving one.
The bottom line? If you don’t have something nice to text, if you want your relationship to last, it’s probably better not to text at all.