I’ll be the first to admit that I am easily distracted. More than once (all right, I’ll admit it’s more like every other week), my husband has pointed out that I was not listening to him when he talked because I was either trying to figure out when we last did the laundry, what to eat for dinner or was watching a Buzzfeed video on useful cooking tips. In fact, I can probably get distracted by the TV when I’m distracted with the watermarks on my window while on the phone.
But I also know how destructive a simple distraction can be to relationships. Growing up, I saw first-hand how something like money or a hobby like golf would lead to mini scuffles between my aunts and uncles. In recent years, the smartphone has caused me to get into one too many spats with my parents and husband alike because of the amount of time I spend on it. Hence, I’ve been trying to pay more attention to the people around me.
Based on my experience, I would like to highlight five culprits that can distract us from our relationships.
1. Social Media
My biggest distraction is my social media accounts. My husband and I have a routine: Every night, after we clean up the place and take our showers, we spend time catching up on our day’s events before we sleep. There have been a couple of times, however, when I was distracted by my Facebook or Instagram news feeds when my husband began to share.
In my defence, I can multi-task pretty well. But my husband couldn’t help but notice that I was fiddling with my phone instead of listening to him. I know it is hurtful when I don’t make him a priority during our nightly chat sessions. So now I give myself a time limit to scroll through the news feeds on my phone before putting it aside to focus on him.
Money can be another distraction in our relationships. I might be generalizing here, but I’ve noticed that a good number of marital conflicts stem from the issue of money, or rather a lack of it. I see this played out even in my own family—my mother still harbors bitterness and resentment against my father over their early years as a married couple.
Every so often, she would harp over the fact that they had to scrimp and save on everything as newlyweds and resort to eating bread for every meal during their honeymoon.
Although she says that these are all things of the past, I can see how the memory of their very lean bank account is a bitter one for her.
I’m sure this happens to both parties in a relationship. The urge to climb the corporate ladder and clinch our first million before a certain age can become a real distraction in a relationship. After many missed calls, postponed dates and forgotten birthdays, however, the damage done is usually irreparable. In some cases, the neglected party may even throw in the towel and call it quits.
A good friend of mine is currently struggling with this problem. She is deeply hurt by how she is constantly ignored and sidelined by her other half, and it has come to the point where she feels that ending the relationship would be less of a heartache.
My husband can attest to this—he enjoys taking photos and videos, and being highly task-oriented, can be so absorbed in what he is doing that he neglects everything else—including me. At times, this has affected our relationship and resulted in conflict, because I feel that I do not get enough of his attention.
Over the years, however, God has helped me to see that I need to support my husband as a wife—even in the things he does for leisure. I also thank God for revealing to my husband that he should not be overly-focused on his hobbies so much so that he neglects the people in his life. Although it has been a struggle for both of us, I am thankful that we have been able to make a conscious effort to ensure that our hobbies do not distract us from our relationship with each other.
This may come as quite a surprise, but I can assure you that even the act of service can be a problem when we do not serve for the right reasons or we do not know how to say “No” when we need to. If we serve with the wrong motives or over-commit ourselves, we could end up serving grudgingly or be tired out physically and mentally.
Also, if one spouse is excessively involved in church commitments and the other spouse is always left by himself or herself, this will inevitably affect their relationship.
While I’m not advocating that we take a backseat when it comes to service, I believe that we need to be discerning about what we can or should do in church, so that we serve whole-heartedly while still having time for our relationships.
These distractions that may plague our relationships from time to time are not just limited to the relationships that we have with our significant other; they can also be distractions to the most important relationship we have—our relationship with our Heavenly Father.
Because God does not complain like a husband or boyfriend might do, we may be even more easily distracted from spending time with Him or listening to His still, soft voice. Our social media accounts, worries about money, career, and hobbies can distract us from reading His Word and praying to Him, while we can get so caught up with serving at church that we forget the One we are really serving.
Let’s be careful not to let these distractions blind us to the things and people that matter the most.