Jump directly to the Content

We E-Mail Each Other In The Same House!

A year ago, my husband and I attended a weekend retreat for Christians at a rustic hotel on the snowy dunes of Lake Michigan's shoreline. At one of the evening sessions as we sat bundled under blankets, rocking in big wooden chairs, the speaker told a startling story: One night he came home late from a meeting, only to realize his wife was "all the way upstairs." He was dying to tell her a good story from the meeting but was overpowered by his hunger. So while he made himself a sandwich out of leftover meatloaf, he did the unthinkable: He reached for his cell phone and called his wife from inside the house! Aaaah!

Now, to be honest, it was the 20 other couples at the retreat who apparently found this startling, as they all gasped in horror. But my husband and me? Not so much. Let's just say we gave each other the same sheepish, high-eyebrowed, clenched smiles we do when marriage experts warn of the havoc wreaked by tvs in the bedroom. Truth is, calling each other from cell phones from within our own house? We do this all the time! And we can go one better: My husband, Rafael, and I have e-mailed each other while sitting on the same sofa.

So is our marriage in jeopardy because of this? Are we living in some kind of communication hell? Quite the contrary.

Relationship built on technology

While we're not so modern or so tech-romantic that we met online, our relationship was definitely shaped by technology. Early in our relationship, we learned the value of passing along a funny story or news item by e-mail while working miles in the opposite direction. Likewise with our cell phones. We got spoiled with the immediacy with which we could relay some interesting news, a funny story, or a great idea, which could then get fleshed out thoroughly during the hours we had alone together back home.

When our first child was born five years ago, a bunch of things converged that shook our communication styles to the core. For one, we kept having kids. And as terrific as kids in general and ours in specific are, face it, nothing kills conversation like little kids around the house. While they bring with them all sorts of interesting news, funny stories, and great ideas to share, they suck away the time needed to flesh out anything!

Have you ever e-mailed, text messaged, or called (using your cell phone) your spouse while you were both home?
• Yes, all the time!11%
• Yes, a few times41%
• Yes, once6%
• No, but that's a neat idea16%
• No way! That's just crazy23%
—961 MP respondents

Also, I started working from home. My husband already worked from home part of the day, so that meant we spent many hours all in the same house. While one might think that this arrangement is good for marital tête-á-têtes, au contraire. Again, preschoolers are the culprit. As sneaky as

I try to be, not a step I take toward my husband's home office goes undetected by my sharp kids, who figure if I get to interrupt Daddy for a quick question or story, then so can they! Pretty soon he's got an office full of talkers, and we've got one annoyed man. And annoyed conversation is never good conversation.

Alternate modes

I've long read of the wisdom of the love note left on a spouse's pillow or a letter written to say what spoken words tend to mess up. These alternate modes of communicating are beneficial to a marriage. That's how I see cell phones and e-mail. Even from within the same house.

See, it didn't take too long to realize that if I simply called my husband at his home office, my kids would leave us to our conversation. They know (for the most part) to leave me alone when I'm talking on the phone, so we've found it to be the perfect interference-free way for us to connect during the day.

And e-mailing from the same sofa? Chalk that up to 11 years of marriage and knowing my husband. We spend many nights semi-cuddled on our family room sofa with our laptops, well, on our laps. This is when I do the bulk of my editing and writing work and when he does the bulk of his catching-up on work or news reading.

Since I am wont to take "work breaks" in the form of a quick visit to a few fun celebrity blogs or news sites, often I come across a story that just needs to be shared with Rafi. But I know him well enough that if I pipe up and tell him the story while his mind is engrossed in whatever he's reading, I'll get little more than a small smile and maybe a "That's funny." But if I e-mail it to him, he'll read it when he's ready, he'll laugh out loud, and then look up to chat. Perhaps to some of you this sounds outrageous, but it works for us. And it works well.

No substitute

I'm not claiming that talking by cell phone, text messaging, or e-mailing should replace regular conversations. If I were in the retreat-speaker's shoes, I would have run up the stairs and told the story in person. By far, talking face to face is still my favorite form of communicating. In fact, in a couple weeks, we're heading up to beautiful Sister Bay, Wisconsin. Know what I'm looking forward to the most? The six-hour car ride. Because it's then that Rafi and I will sit side by side, with kids strapped in safely behind, flanked by Lake Michigan to the east and soybean fields to the west. And it's then that we'll talk, dream, share, laugh, maybe even argue a bit. I cherish those moments we have more than almost anything. But those moments for us right now are few and far between. While cell phones and e-mail don't replace them, they keep our lives connected in that in-between, and I cherish that too.

Caryn Rivadeneira, former managing editor of Marriage Partnership, is a freelance author and editor.  www.carynrivadeneira.com

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

Free CT Women Newsletter

Sign up for our Weekly newsletter: CT's weekly newsletter to help you make sense of how faith and family intersect with the world.

Busyness; Communication; Conversation; Marriage
Today's Christian Woman, Winter, 2007
Posted September 12, 2008

Read These Next


Join in the conversation on Facebook or Twitter

Follow Us

More Newsletters