After being together for a year, my boyfriend and I realized that we were in a communication rut.
Before we moved in together, we used to make sure the night didn't end before we talked on the phone -- even if only for a few minutes. Communication then was sweet and sexy and reserved mainly for flirting and getting to know each other better. Now, its is something we do by necessity and our preferred mode of communication has quickly become texting. Whether we were making dinner plans or asking how each other's days were going -- texting was just easier.
Texting also provided another benefit - receipts. I can't tell you how many times, mid-argument, I would conjure up a text message that provided the much needed proof required to make my point. Ever since the iPhone updated their ios and allowed the ability to edit screenshots, relationships have gone to a whole new level. My boyfriend has received more than a few screenshot conversations with circles around key takeaways.
What? I like to be thorough...
So when we decided to try out a text-free week, we knew it was going to be something of an adjustment. I'll admit, the first day there was a lot of picking up my phone and putting it back down once I remembered our agreement. But all in all, what we learned about our relationship - and ourselves served a valuable lesson about how we treat each other.
I actually missed him.
Who would have thought I could miss someone I share a bathroom with? After our first day of no-texting, when he walked through our front door I was kind of filled with butterflies. From the look on his face, so was he. It was almost like we shed 6 months off of our relationship and went back to still being curious about each other.
We picked our battles.
It's a lot easier to pick a frivolous argument when you don't have to look someone in the eye. Its the entire reason Twitter is such a source of unapologetically bold statements. I'll admit there have been times when we've sparked a fight over text that honestly just didn't need to happen. During our text-free week, if something was an issue, it would still be an issue when we saw each other at home. If not, it was forgotten and generally for the best.
Our end-of-the-day conversation leveled up.
How was his day? What did he think about that thing that happened in the news that day? What was I working on? What funny thing did my 5 year old do after school? Things we would normally shoot a quick text about were suddenly question marks we carried around all day. When the day was done, dinner was had, kid was in bed and work was put away - we simply had a lot more to say to each other.
There were way less miscommunications.
Our text-free week happened to be over the Thanksgiving holiday, and we ambitiously decided to host a small dinner at our place. In the haze of cooking and multiple trips to the grocery store I forgot to ask him to grab unsalted butter. Did I say 'unsalted butter' or just 'butter'? I couldn't remember. Normally, I would have texted him to clarify, which is risky. He could over look it while browsing the shelves of a crowded market and come back home empty handed only to say, "Did you text me?". When I called him, he was already in line to pay, sans unsalted butter. I reminded him, and he grabbed it - crisis averted.
No receipts meant we had to trust.
So, this was probably harder for me since I'm petty...uh I mean since I'm so organized. Not being able to look through a log of our communication meant that when he shared his perspective on something I simply had to trust it. Maybe I don't remember the exact way something was said, maybe it doesn't even matter. I realized that keeping receipts means you may not be accounting for how things felt to the other person. Even if you did catch them in a moment of misspeaking - is that really the point? Instead of harping on the specifics and semantics of a conversation, we had to feel things out organically and trust that the other person was coming from a place of sincerity.
All in all, once the experiment was over, I was relieved to be able to pick back up our usual text banter. But, I have been more conscious about how often I rely on texting. Since then, we've had a conversation about how important in-person communication is to both of us and how it makes a difference in how smoothly things flow at home.
Now, we text a little less, we call a little more, and we talk a little deeper. And yes, I screenshot a little less as well.
Featured image by Shutterstock
Originally published December 3, 2017