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Episode 36 - Your Husband's Phone

Episode 36 Overview

Hey newlyweds,

What do you do if your husband is spending more time on his phone than communicating with you? What will this mean when kids come along (if they haven't already) and how he's going to be able to connect to him? What if he's getting defensive when you ask him to put away his phone? How much are phones supposed to be used in a healthy marriage?

This week we're talking all about the "other wife"--your husband's phone 

This topic can make us crazy--I get it--but we're going to focus on a practical framework to work on this area in your home.  

Because let's face it... you probably have a phone, too...

Check out this week's episode for a four-step solution to unhealthy phone usage in your new marriage.

Check out more podcast episodes and sign up for my free online class at


00:00 Episode 36, Your Husband's Phone.

00:16 Welcome to the First Year Married podcast where we get real about building the marriage of your dreams. I'm marriage coach, Kayla Levin, and I take newly married and engaged women from anxious and insecure to confident and connected through practical tips, real life inspiration, and more than a little self-awareness along the way.

00:33 Hello ladies. Welcome back to the First Year Married podcast. Thank you so much for coming on. You all are so amazing. I put out a message on Instagram this last week that I wanted some ideas, wanted to hear what you are looking for for podcast episodes and I didn't know what I was getting myself into. I have such a list. I can't believe I've ever brainstormed before instead I'm just asking all of you. Things that I didn't even realize we hadn't covered yet. Things that I never would have thought of covering and one topic which came up that was a hot topic for a lot of you. So that's what we're going to start with because I think it's really important. It's one that we're all working on and it's a unique challenge to those of you who are getting married now versus us old ladies who've been married for a little while longer.

01:28 So that is, as you know from the title, your husbands phone. By the way, it's your phone too. So what I want to do this week is I'm going to give you a sort of a four step process that I really want to challenge you to actually do. You know all of this work is great intellectually. It's a lot of fun to listen to. It can even give us results and I love hearing from those of you who are finding your relationships a lot less stressful or your understanding your husband in a new level. And yes, that can totally happen just from listening to the podcast. What I want to challenge you to do, and it's a little tricky to do it just as a podcast listener, if you want to take the dive and join the course, that is definitely the way to take this work a lot further and a lot more personal.

02:11 If you are the type that can really hold yourself accountable, you can do this even with just this episode. Take these steps and commit to doing them this week. No surprise, the next episode should be out next Sunday. Barring anything like major international moves, which of course I never do. So you shouldn't be hearing from me again in a week, which gives you one week to work on this material to focus on this material. Whether that means taking a whiteboard marker and reminding yourself on your bathroom mirror or putting a Post-it note somewhere or sticking it on your planner, putting a reminder in your calendar on your phone, whatever it is that might keep this top of mind. You've got one week to work on this material and I really want to encourage you to not just make this an intellectual listening while you're folding laundry or going for a run type of exercise, but actually to implement this and to make a plan for yourself.

03:00 When are you going to implement it? When are you going to work on it? Because it's worth doing, especially on this topic. What I'm hearing from you are things like, "I'm trying to have a conversation with my husband, but his face is in his phone." Or especially those of you with young children, your husband gets home from work and you get home from work, the kids are there, you're all there and he's on his phone and you're talking to the kids and it's like he's not even there. He's in the room. He's just doing something else or the day ends. You don't have kids yet and you just want to get together and do something and hang out and have a little date at home, spend time with him. Right? And hear about his day, but all he really wants to do is veg out on the couch and be on his phone.

03:40 Yeah? It's funny. This used to really be more TVs. That was sort of the classic, right? Or that the husband would go into the basement and turn on the television and watch the game or whatever and I feel like now we're actually having... This is coming up much more with the phone. It's easier to pretend that the phone is important, right? Because sometimes it is. Sometimes it's really important, and so we've got all the entertainment and the buffering and the vegging out all mixed into one device. It can be really confusing.

04:08 So there's some of you that are seeing this sort of through the eyes of your children and you're very concerned that your children are only going to remember their father with the phone and they're never going to have a real connection. And then others of you who feel like this was really damaging your relationship and you're losing your connection.

04:21 Okay. These are definitely some anxiety-producing thoughts. Right? So you want to sort of say to yourself, "Okay, brain, good job. I hear you loud and clear." This is a concern, okay? But we can't just take whatever thoughts our brain is offering us at face value. You want to choose them consciously. So step number one is going to be a brain dump. I want you to write at the top of a piece of paper, my husband's phone.

04:47 I highly recommend doing this with real pen and paper, not on the computer. I've even had clients in the past tell me that they started off on the computer and when they finally switched to pen and paper, it made a huge difference for them. So take a piece of paper and on the top you're going to write something along the lines of my husband's phone. I would not recommend doing your phone and your husband's phone in the same brain dump. Separate these and then you are going to write out on your paper in whatever big old mess that you want or if you want to make it a numbered list, you can do whatever you want.

05:16 I tend to sort of write in different groupings and squares and shapes across the page. I make a nice big mess and that sort of gives me permission to not be perfect about it and that helps a lot. You're going to write down every thought that you have about your husband's phone. Why it's driving you crazy. What's so terrible about it? What does it mean about him that he's using his phone, that he's not controlling his usage more, that he's not connecting to you more? What do you think is going to happen in the long run? Okay? You're not questioning any of these thoughts. You're just sort of putting down like, "Okay, here's all the things that my brain has suggested that my husband on his phone means."

05:52 Okay? So even if you're writing it down and as you're writing it and you're like, "That's ridiculous. I don't really believe that." That's fine. Write it down. Okay? It's called a brain dump for a reason. This is not a fancy or organized system. This is just get it out on paper. You cannot question a thought that you can't see. I'm going to say that again. You cannot question a thought that you can't see. How are you going to see it? You're going to write it down. Okay? I don't want you trying to do this just, "Okay. Well I'm just going to pause the podcast and I'm going to think a little bit about what I think and then now I'll know my thoughts." No. It needs to be written down somewhere. Okay? If you are on the run and you cannot possibly get to a pen and paper, then you can just put it in a text to yourself or something like that on your phone. Fine.

06:35 Again, I strongly recommend using real physical pen and paper for this. Once you see those thoughts, so then you're going to ask yourself a couple things. Right off the bat, you might see some of them and you might be like, "I don't believe that." Right? Let's say you say, "Phones are terrible. We shouldn't even have phones." Okay, that's one that I have. Sometimes I'll just be like, "Phones shouldn't exist. I shouldn't have a phone or I shouldn't have a smart phone. Okay, I want to go back to a phone that doesn't have internet." And then I'm like, "No, I'm terrible with directions. This is important for my physical safety. I'm very happy that I have a phone that has ways and Google Maps because sometimes one of them is not working." Okay? So, if I was doing my brain dump on this, then I would immediately look at that and I would go, "Yeah, I know I have the thought that I shouldn't have a smart phone."

07:19 But then I would look at it and go, "No, that's not really true for me. It's smart for me to have a smartphone, not necessarily everything that's on it." Okay? So you have the initial thought and then this is a point where you're going to... Some of them you're just going to initially realize, "No way do I believe that. That's just something my brain is saying." Okay?

07:37 Then there's going to be some other thoughts leftover. Most of the thoughts won't be that. Most of the thoughts you have leftover, you're going to want to look at it and you're going to want a question them a little bit. Okay? Do I believe this to be true? How is the opposite of this also true? And then what I think is the most important is, what happens to me when I have this thought? Okay, who do I get to be?

07:59 Because at the end of the day, the only person you can control is yourself, which I'm very sorry those of you who started this, so hoping that I would give you five tips to get your husband to stop being on his phone. You haven't been listening to my podcast long enough. The only person you can control is yourself, which means what you want to be paying attention to is, when I have this thought, who do I become? What version of myself do I become? So personally, when I have the thought, "This is terrible for my husband's relationship with his children." Okay? My creativity is now zapped, right? My ability to connect, to support, and respect to my husband zapped. I mean personally, I cannot make any changes in my relationship or our dynamic or have any constructive conversations with my husband if I'm not feeling creative and respectful.

08:48 Okay? I need those pieces because if I think that I'm talking to a moron and I have no creativity, then it's not going to be a productive conversation. Right? So you want to look at... So again, the first step you're looking at the thoughts that you just see right away, "These are not true. I don't believe in them." Okay? And just sort of circle them or whatever. Make a little note. Then you're going to look at the rest of the thoughts. And there might be some that are jumping out to you as these ones I'm having a lot or these ones are giving me a lot of problems. Or these ones I think are really true. Okay? And those are the ones where you want to say, "Okay, who do I become? How did these thoughts make me feel? And I'm feeling like that, how do I act?"

09:23 Okay. Once you've done that, now you have more mindfulness of what these thoughts mean for you in the context of your relationship. Okay? And again, there's a lot of true thoughts, okay? They are a lot of things that you can think. Just because something's true and even if something is true and it really hits you in the gut, doesn't mean you need to think it, okay? So if it's not creating the person that you want to be, if it's not giving you the energy to be the way that you want to be in this situation, in this relationship, you might want to choose a different one. Doesn't mean you have to sit there and go, "Well that's not true." This is one of the things that I have to admit a little bit of a pet peeve for me is when marriage coaches are just giving you different thoughts as if their thoughts are just more true, right?

10:07 You think your husband is this, but he's actually this. It's wonderful, right? And yeah, sometimes that works, but it's so much more powerful to be like, "You think your husband's this though, how's that working for you?" Right? Because the thought that they're giving you is equally made up and yeah, it might be more empowering, but for you to be able to do this work yourself, you need to be able to identify, "This is the thought that I made up in my head and this is what's happening and what thought do I want to make up intentionally?" Right? It has to be one that you can believe, but again, there are so many thoughts you can believe.

10:41 That was step one. Step one is the brain dump, okay? You got it all down on paper and then really 1A is the brain dump, 1B is the questioning going in and dealing with your brain dump, okay? But you're not really going to be able to just do the brand up and walk away anyway, so I'm not worried about you. Okay.

10:55 Step two is the vision. Now this might sound like the easiest step. This is actually the hardest. Give yourself time for this step. What I want you to do is I want you to have a vision about... In this case, you're going to bring yourself back into it. Okay? What are the cell phones doing in your home? Where are they in the morning? What does breakfast look like in your house? What does the morning look like and how are the phones played in? And be realistic. If you're going to need to know if it's raining today, so don't ignore that, okay? If your husband has to check his email before he goes to work or he's not being a responsible employee, don't ignore that.

11:38 So I would recommend taking this in chunks of the day. So start with breakfast. That's an easy one. You get up. Okay? Are you rolling over and checking your phone? Is your alarm clock also your phone? Because if so you should assume that you're probably going to check any notification that's popped up. Billions of dollars have gone into making sure that if there's a little red circle with a number in it, you're going to push on the circle. Okay? You have been programmed to make no mistake about it. If you want to look into the signs, there's all sorts of amazing things about the dopamine and the oxytocin and all the different hormones that are firing in our brains because our phones are making us feel satisfied and connected. I'm not going to go in total schmooze on it, but you can definitely find the research very easily on the Internet.

12:20 Okay. So from the time that you wake up, to the time you leave for work, where are the phones? How are they being used? But more importantly in terms of the vision, what is there? Right? How are you connecting or how are you being efficient or how are you being responsible and productive? What do you want to be the sense in your morning? Is your morning exciting and happy? Okay? So if I know that I'm using my phone to play music so we can have a dance party in the kitchen while we're packing lunches, which may or may not be what we do most mornings, then I know my phone is involved in that. I know where my phone is because of that. Right?

12:57 So you're thinking through your morning... I'm kind of beating a dead horse here. You're thinking through your morning. What is the goal? What is the feel? What is the vision for what I want the morning to look like? And therefore, where is the phone? And again, you have to be realistic about where you do need your phone in the morning. Once you've created your vision so now you have something positive to be going off of. Are you ready for step number three? Because you're going to hate me.

13:23 Step number three is you do it first. Okay? So much of the time when we're struggling in an area with something that our husband is doing or not doing, it's also an area where we're struggling. And it's so much easier to focus on his bad eating habits or how he hasn't been to the gym in three years than it is to focus on ours. Yeah? It's much easier to think about how he's spaced out looking at, I don't know, fantasy baseball when you're sometimes on Facebook. Step three is to make a plan for yourself. The good part of step three is that since a lot of the time our anxiety about our husband's behavior is actually coming from our own behavior. Right? And sort of deflecting from not wanting to deal with our own. Sometimes when we fix our own, it doesn't bother us anymore.

14:20 I am feeling connected and happy and productive in the morning because I'm not also scrolling through Instagram, right? I am focused on getting through my morning. I've created the morning for myself. The other amazing thing about it is that now he lives in a house with somebody who is living out that vision. Now you're offering him an alternative, right? Because if every time he's looking up from his phone and you're looking into your phone, it's not really fair to say to him, "It's time to get rid of your phone." Right? Or, "Your phone shouldn't be out here." Or maybe the times he's wanting to connect are not the same as the times that you're wanting to connect. So he's trying to connect at one point. You're trying to connect in another and you're both feeling disconnected. Okay? So step number three is really important for a lot of reasons.

15:03 One, because you might be able to give yourself exactly what you're trying to get from him. Two, because now you're presenting an alternative for him in your home. Again, as I always say, we don't control each other, but we can affect each other. So maybe living in the house with a person who has a more healthy relationship with her phone, who's constantly saying, "You know what? I've decided that I'm going to get a physical alarm clock because I don't want to have my phone in the bedroom anymore. I really want to make sure it's a place where I'm available in case you want to talk to me." So that's planting a pretty powerful seed there. It doesn't even have to be, "Hey, let's stop having phones in our bedroom." You might be able to do that, but you might not. Right? And you probably know in terms of how your relationship is going, especially if this is a sensitive topic, right?

15:51 If every time he's hearing that he should be putting away his phone he's already a failure, he can't give you anything. Right? He's already lost before he even looked up, before he even realized you were talking. He already lost the game. So what you want to always create is a situation in which he could win. How can he win this? He can win this because you know what? Next Wednesday night I was wondering if we could just... This is the response that I just gave to somebody who had reached out to me about their own personal phone situation. Her husband is working crazy long hours. He's super burnt out. By time he gets home, all he wants to do is just veg on the couch. And she's so cute. She's like, "I've been listening to your podcast. I know he's building testosterone, but I still want to talk to him."

16:32 So I love it. Right? So she's right. You know, sometimes he just needs to be still, but what can he do? So if she's coming at him as, "Could you put away your phone? I want to talk to you." Right? So then he's already lost. But if she could be like, "Hey." And this might even be an email that she's sending to him while he's at work. It's not necessarily the best to do this live in person. But if she's saying to him, "Hey, I really... I heard about this new board game. I thought we'd have so much fun together." Or, "I heard about this new beer that I wanted to try." Or whatever the thing is, right? "I got this new board game and I think it'd be really fun and I wanted to play it with you. And I was wondering if there's one night next week where... I think it's supposed to be just an hour or so. Is there one night next week where we could just be there playing the board game and even, I don't know, maybe just put our phones away?"

17:21 Create a situation where he can win by giving you that. Okay? Not, "How come your phone's always out?" But, "Hey. I was really hoping we could have 20 minutes, no phone time. Just total connection. When would you be able to do that? Is that something you could do?" And if not, find out why. Right? Find out why he can't do that and be willing to be wrong about the reasons you think it might be, right? Because we usually make it about ourselves. Like, "I'm somehow imperfect and he doesn't love me." But there could be a plethora of reasons of why he's not willing to do it and he might be willing to do it.

17:54 So you're creating a situation where he can give to you by being present, by giving you that and then let him win. Then enjoy yourself. Have an amazing time, laugh, smile. The next day come over and be like, "Oh my gosh, wasn't that fun yesterday?" Okay. Then you're giving him a much better alternative. Whatever connection he's getting we, again, know physiologically there are... He's feeling connected because that is how his phone is designed. Whatever he's getting from his phone, it's better with you because your live, right? And you're human and you're right there. So again, we have to always make sure that we're framing this not as you already lost, but, "Hey, here's this thing I just thought of and can we try this out?" And there's big points to be won, right? But I'm supposed to be talking about how you're doing this yourself.

18:43 So you're creating opportunities for connection. You're not using your phone, right? Beyond what you think is the ideal. And I would really recommend taking some time and thinking about what are the different things you're spending most of your time on your phone doing? If you have an iPhone, it gives you really good data on that and there's a lot of apps I think that you can download that track your time and tell you what you're doing. Where are you spending the majority of your time and why? What are you getting out of it? And ask yourself without judgment, right? You're not going to get anything out of, "Ugh, I was on Facebook for two hours. such a waste of time." You'll get something out of, "I was on Facebook for two hours. It's really the only time I've caught up with my old friends." Okay? That could compel you to say, "Oh, maybe I should make a girl's night out."

19:26 Right? So you are getting something out of this stuff. So you have to find out what that is because otherwise if you don't replace it, you're just going to go back to using your phone for it. And again, I'm not saying that that means everyone should be banning their phones. However, I will say this. Wisdom from the husbands. My husband said something to me which totally shook me, which was... Did he say this to me? He might've said this in a speech. My husband actually speaks about responsible technologies, so this is definitely a hot topic in our household. He said, "If you don't want your phone to be the most important thing in your day, you can't begin and end your day with it." Oh my gosh. Genius. Right? Isn't he a genius? He's a genius. He's editing the podcast and he's for sure going to leave that in.

20:08 If your phone is your alarm clock, if you're checking things on your phone last minute before bed, it's going to be really hard for your phone not to also... You're setting the tone for the whole day when you start the day by checking your phone. Okay? If the first thing you do when you roll out of bed or probably before you roll out of bed is look at your phone and that could easily be for 20 minutes, 30 minutes, then it's really hard to expect yourself to not keep coming back to it. You started off your day that way. So this is really interesting. You can actually go to a store and buy an alarm clock. They still exist. You don't have to wind them even. There are real life solid alarm clocks and you can buy them and they are not as fun as the personalized alarm you can get on your phone.

20:54 That's true. They are not as exciting. Sometimes make really annoying noises and they're a little bit more of a headache to plan and program and all that, but you know what? It's only a teeny tiny bit and what you do get from that is the phone can stay in the kitchen or wherever else it needs to stay and that would definitely be a challenge that I would offer you in terms of practical tips would be to see if you can get your phone out of your bedroom. Okay. For some of you, you're totally not interested. For those of you who want to take the challenge, definitely, definitely tag me. Use your phone to take a picture of where you're going to leave your phone at night or your new alarm clock and then tag me at First You're Married. I want to see that you did it and I will throw a party for you and I will repost it on my phone, which I also use sometimes.

21:44 Okay. So step one, brain dump, and then you're going to analyze the brain dump as I told you. Step two, create your vision. Step three, do the work yourself. Okay? Step four, this is an easy one, is what is your timeline? So let's say that even when you've done all your work on the thoughts and you're like, "Okay fine. It's not actually going to lead to divorce. And my children are not going to end up on the street and okay. You know, I've kind of lost some of the drama about it, but you know what? This is still not the goal that I'm looking for." So let's say you don't exercise regularly. I know a lot of you do. Let's say you don't exercise regularly and your husband becomes a fitness buff in the next year. How long do you think it would be reasonable before that started to rub off on you?

22:32 I would say maybe at least another year or two. Okay? But you can pick your own timeline. So I want you to apply the same idea and the same basic concept to the phone. If you were to really live this work, if you were really to have this transformation between yourself and your phone and how you use your phone, how much time are you ready to give him before it starts to rub off on him before he gets interested and excited? Right? Because I don't think that any of us want to be in a relationship where the other person wanting a change requires immediate transformation on the other person's part. It's very hard to be inspired for immediate transformation. Right? Especially when it wasn't your idea, right? This isn't his idea. This is your idea. Right now he might not even have a problem with the phone. If what you need to do is to offer him a lot of opportunities for connection that don't include the phone, right? Fun that you can do without it.

23:31 One of my favorite things that I ever saw on social media was do more things that make you forget to check your phone. I love that. Right? What are the things that you do where you're not even thinking, "Oh, I shouldn't check it. I shouldn't be on my phone." You just totally forgot for two hours. Do those. Yeah? Add more of those in. And at a certain point, he will start to see that there's this other thing going on. You are introducing something new to him, but how long are you willing to give him? Are you willing to say, "I'm going to live this work for six months?" Are you willing to live this work for a year or two? And just decide on a timeline. You can go back and revisit if you wanted to later on. And it might not take that long, but I would say that it will take a lot of pressure off of this whole conversation if you say to yourself, "I'm going to live this work for a year and then I'll reassess.".

24:25 Once he's lived in a house with someone for a year who has a healthy relationship with her phone, and by the way, you still get to make mistakes. Yeah. But in general has a healthier relationship with her phone and is doing lots of things that aren't plugged into the phone and is trying to create lots of opportunities to connect together that don't include guilt, that don't include making him feel bad. So now if he hasn't started to sort of get interested, maybe now I'll bring it up with him. Yeah. But I'm not going to sort of push him on this for now. I'm just going to let it be. I'm going to let it sit and I'm going to focus on my own work. Okay. So that would be my final recommendation for you is choose your timeline. And yeah, it's basically arbitrary, but you'll sort of know what fits for you.

25:05 Like, "Okay. Six months sounds realistic, but a year I think I'd already be annoyed." Okay, if that's how you're feeling, don't choose a year. Might just be honest with yourself, but once you've chosen it, you can even go and schedule it into your calendar. That way in two weeks when you're like, "Ugh, I've been working really hard on this phone thing." Okay, let's be realistic in two days when you're like, "Ugh, I've been working really hard on this phone thing and he's totally clueless and not paying attention." Then you could be like, "I have an event set on my calendar for six months from today. I'm not worrying about it until then." Okay? You'll have a response for your brain when your brain is like, "I've been working so hard.".

25:39 And the last thing I want to leave you with is that this stuff gets easier. Okay? All of the habits that you have right now that this is time to hold your phone or this a time to pick up your phone or any of those things. If you're trying to cut down on your own phone usage, it starts off harder because you need to sort of rewire your brain, but it will get easier. It does get easier. And especially when you're thinking about what is there as an alternative? What is happening instead? Okay?

26:05 All right. Ladies, thank you so much for this question. Thank you for all the other questions. I have a huge long list now to get through. We're going to start doing some batch episodes so we can get these out a little quicker. Some of them are going to go on Instagram Stories, so if you're not connected over there, we have an amazing community of women at First Year Married is my handle. And definitely tag me if you've been listening to this podcast, you want an accountability partner. You can tag me on this. Just take a screenshot of the podcast episode and tag.

26:31 And those of you who, again, want to take this work even further. When you do the First Year Married online course, you get instant access and lifetime access to our First Year Married private online coaching group. That is VIP access to asking your questions, getting your answers, hearing from other women who were also doing the work. And my weekly inspirations we focus on one topic per month and each week I go on and I put in a short video that's easy to watch and you can take something with you through the week to really focus on and you can send me any questions about that that you want inside the group.

27:05 You can even send in anonymous questions about your relationship that then I can go on and coach on in the group. So this is the best way to take this work even further. If you are in your first year, I want to urge you to take the plunge and do something. If it's not my group, fine. But find something. We have this crazy idea in our culture that doing work on your marriage means there's something wrong with it. No. If you are going to take an important job, you have to get the new skillset. If you haven't been married before, you don't know how to do it. Right? And that's good news because then when you mess up, you can be like, "Oh I made a mistake because I didn't know how." But guess what? It can be so much easier for you when you have the skills, when you have the knowledge, when you know how to coach yourself. It's so much easier. It's so much more fun.

27:53 I cannot tell you how many women have come to me and said, "I wish I'd had this in my first year. Looking back, I can see how much I struggled, how many fights we got into that we didn't need to be in because we didn't have the support. We didn't have the guidance. We didn't have the mentorship." So I want to offer that to you. I would absolutely love to have you in the program. The first class is available free online. All you have to do is go to You click into the program and you hit preview on that first class. That whole first class is free and the rest of the class you pay for the course and you can go through it at your own pace. Again, lifetime access and access to the private online Facebook group. That's it for this week. Have an amazing week, ladies. I cannot wait to see you back here again next week. Bye bye.

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