How did couples manage to communicate before the invention of texting? It’s something to think about, since so many couples depend on those brief text messages to stay connected and share information about everything from who’s making dinner to who needs to pick up the kids after practice.
Personally, I’m becoming convinced that couples actually did a better job of communicating before they discovered texting. In fact, more and more of the couples we see at Care to Change report that many of their text “conversations” are actually heated arguments. As we work with them to develop more effective, productive, and positive ways to connect, I’ve determined that all couples who text each other should adopt the following set of rules.
- Texting is for texts, not conversations. If you can’t convey a message in three lines, it’s too complex for a text. Call your spouse, or wait until you’re in the same room and can discuss it.
- Skip the negatives. When you’re annoyed or upset, it’s easy to text a negative message. If you say it out loud, your spouse hears it once. But when it’s on their screen, they see it every time they glance at their phone, so it sounds (and hurts) like you’ve been repeating it.
- Accentuate the positive. Keep texts friendly, positive and encouraging.
- Remember who’s reading. Your spouse is on the other end of your text, but others may see it. So don’t text anything you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see.
- Don’t snap back. If your spouse sends a text that’s rude, crude, mean, sarcastic, or inappropriate, don’t reply. It’s all too easy to get into a battle of “I’ll top you!” where nobody wins.
- Don’t keep texting. If your spouse hasn’t responded after two messages, don’t keep sending texts. He or she may be busy with work, the kids, driving, in a situation where texting would be awkward, or maybe even trying to rest.
- Don’t use all caps. IT SEEMS LIKE YELLING, AND YELLING IS NEVER PRODUCTIVE.
- Be discreet. Don’t send private or highly personal messages using text, because you never know when they might reappear. And even if you delete them, they’re still sitting on a computer server somewhere.