I’ve recently been exploring the use of “reminder” apps on smartphones as a tool for change to improve the relationship of the couples I see for couples therapy. As a psychologist, my Orange County tend to be tech savvy and extremely busy people who use their mobile devices to navigate their daily schedule: business lunches, kid’s soccer practices, work deadlines, the daily commute. What if couples used that same technology to help navigate changes they want to make happen in their relationships?
I’m going to refer to another blog I wrote about hitting the “love bullseye” for an example of how to use reminders for relationship change. The “love bullseye” is doing what communicates love to your partner in a way that they can receive it. The challenge there is that what your partner needs is probably not what you’re used to giving. It’s going to take some repetition and training for you to change habits and become more consistent meeting your partner with what they need. This is where I believe reminders could help.
Most every smartphone these days has and app that will prompt you with reminders. If you don’t know how to set a reminder on your phone, just ask a child and they can probably teach you that and many more things about your electronics you never knew. I’m not going to be your tech consultant, but in general, all the reminder apps have the capability to prompt you with a message at a certain time, and/or based on a certain location, for as many days of the week as you program it for as long as you wish. This opens a lot of possibilities for couples to use.
If your partner cherishes words of affirmation, set your reminder app to give you a prompt to say something loving to her around the time your alarm goes off. Maybe in the middle of the day, you could have another reminder prompt you to send him an affectionate text message. You could even set the reminder to prompt you every time you get near a specific location, like just as you roll into your driveway getting home from work.
While you can see how a reminders app could provide a helpful extension of couples counseling, Orange County couples don’t have to be the only ones who benefit. You can use this for others as well, like a reminder prompt that comes up as you get to your child’s school, making sure you give them a hug first thing because touch is their “love bullseye.” Isn’t technology great!
Now I know that some of you might be thinking, “If they have to use a reminder, then it doesn’t mean as much because they didn’t remember it on their own.” I would answer by saying that eventually, they will learn to remember what speaks love to you. Even more so, if they are willing to use tools to teach themselves to do something they wouldn’t naturally do, well then I would consider that an extra measure of effort and love. Give it a chance and see for yourself.