I’m married to a Social Networker. Oh this is not new news to me (or probably many of you) and I came willingly into this marriage full aware of this knowledge. If you too are married to a social networker then you understand the full extent of what this means… If you are not, well let me share.
I’ll start off by saying my husband Vaughan is AWESOME! He’s a conscious individual (in every meaning of the word) and is constantly working to influence those around him in a positive way. He is very passionate about many things and likes to share his passions (and ridiculous sense of humor – which I love) with the world. And no, I do not use the term ‘world’ loosely. You see, Vaughan is connected. And I’m not talking in the mafia sense (thank god) and I definitely don’t mean in the Verizon sense… That’s because Verizon can’t even begin to cover all the ways he is in tune, in touch, and dialed in to the rest of the world. He’s an open book and loves interacting and engaging others and does so through many different channels.
- Facebook (personal AND professional accounts)
- Foursquare (Fortunately he only lets close friends follow him on foursquare. Not goof for EVERYONE to know where you are at all times)
- Blog www.vaughanlazar.com
- Twitter account
- … and others
Not to mention 3 email accounts tied to his phone and access to a world of apps that can connect you to anyone, anytime, anywhere. In addition, he runs multiple restaurants and works with franchisees, is on different green boards and task forces, plus other charity work that I can’t even keep track of. The restaurant world does not sleep and neither does he apparently. I’ll regularly find Vaughan up at 4am, responding to emails, or on vacation, having to take business calls, or on the pooper, facebooking (oh I’m paying for that comment later). So you’re getting the picture. Vaughan is connected… which leads me to the point of this blog.
How do we stay so connected as a couple, when he is always connected to the rest of the world? Easy. We set boundaries. Ok, so it wasn’t easy at first, but we got there. The important thing that I had to learn is that boundaries go BOTH ways. I learned that one a long time ago. I used to get frustrated with Vaughan for always being plugged in and my typical reaction was basically ‘screw everyone else, I’m important.’ Unfortunately, the “screw everyone else” part meant screwing him too. Because not only am I important, but for him, it is important that he is able to respond, react, reply, etc. to everyone else. So what I had to learn is that although I may be feeling whatever it was I was feeling because I didn’t always have his undivided attention, he also had things he had to do as well, which were important to him.
Now, like I said, we’ve had to work on it, but we did find a way to make his connectedness and our relationship flourish without having to sacrifice either. Let me share with you what we USED to look like:
Dinner: We are eating, conversing, having a great time. He is in the middle of a conversation (mid sentence) and his phone buzzes. He picks it up, stops talking in the middle of his sentence, responds (which take a whole 71 seconds – trust me that’s a long time when you are annoyed), puts down the phone, looks at me and says, “What was I saying?” I get pissed.
Scene 2 Anywhere: He’s responding quietly to an email. I get impatient waiting… Then I think of something and just have to tell him right then, so I start talking. He nods his head or mumbles something. I’m chatting along. He finishes his email, puts down the phone, I say “What do you think?” And he just looks at me and says, “What? I wasn’t paying attention.” I’m now pissed and either a) take it out on him or b) just ignore him and sulk.
NEITHER one of these scenarios work for us, nor did my reactions! We had to come to a compromise. And situations like these don’t have to end up in fights. I actually remember the evening we sat down and talked about his “connectedness” and how it was affecting our relationship. We both explained our points of view (which are BOTH valid), and it went something like this;
- I needed to have Vaughan’s undivided attention when I was talking.
- I needed to know he was paying attention to ME when we were spending quality time together.
- He needed to be able to respond to people in a timely manner.
- He needed to stay connected with the world, in whatever means, because that is important to him.
The important thing was that we had this conversation when both of us were open and willing to listen to the other. One of the most awesome things about our relationship is how we truly care about what the other is feeling. I never want to hurt him and vice versa and we know that. So I know if I am feeling a certain yuck, it has nothing to do with his intentions, it’s simply in that situation we are not aligned. I need to tell him how I’m feeling and he needs to explain to me what is important to him.
So the compromise. When we are together, as in a dinner or somewhere truly spending time together, he leaves the phone alone. We do spend a lot of time together so I can’t expect him to always be 100% focused on me. I let him know when it is important for him to be with me in the moment and not distracted. On the flip end, I don’t make every moment about me and I don’t start conversations when he’s in the middle of something. I do catch myself starting to talk to him sometimes when he’s busy and immediately stop myself. Sometimes he’ll say, “I’m listening.” (but I know better) If I want his undivided attention, I stop myself, WAIT until he is done, then talk to him. What he is doing, is just as important as what I am saying (and it doesn’t matter if I think so or not). I don’t get upset with him anymore and he gives me the time and attention I need.
And here is another very big one for me… RESERVE JUDGMENT! When we are on vacation or traveling, he will stay connected to everyone. Although, he did a fantastic job on our honeymoon of keeping everyone else at a distance! He needs his time to respond to people, answer phone calls, and yes, facebook and tweet. And although facebook might not seem like a ‘priority’ to some people, it is an outlet, form of entertainment, stress buster, or much needed social engagement for most. These social media outlets wouldn’t be so popular if people weren’t getting something beneficial out of them. For him, it is his platform to share his ideas, thoughts, get opinions, make people laugh, stay connected, or just simply take his mind off other things. I used to get upset thinking he’s not having fun because he is so connected to everyone else. I had to put myself in his shoes. He is so incredibly busy that this is time he can use to catch up on work, catch up with others, and even get ahead. That alone makes him feel good! So although to me, feeling good may be simply unplugging from the world, to him, it’s being on top of everything and not falling behind.
So from now on, when I need him to unplug, I tell him. I don’t judge and I give him time and opportunity to do so. And guess what… it works! He gets to stay connected to the world without having a wife who is always annoyed or pissed off and I always get Vaughan when I need him! Plus the bonus for me, is I understand him better. His connectedness to the world is part of his uniqueness and I would NEVER want him to change.