In couples therapy we so often hear of the negative consequences of smartphones on the closeness of a couple. “He’s always on his phone when we’re eating.” “She won’t get off Facebook to have a conversation with me.” “The text was so short and curt, I had no choice but to think you were annoyed with me.” And all these are viable issues that can cause chasms in relationships. However, there are also new and profound ways to use technology in the service of the relationship, rather than its detriment. Many app developers have realized the potential to use the computers we carry around in our pockets and purses all day to improve planning, intimacy, and connection. Here’s a sampling of the most helpful:
Avocado – Couples can use Avocado to create shared to-do lists, grocery lists, or send private messages to each other. They can create personal emoticons and upload quick notes such as “I love you” or “Be home soon.” Relationship milestones can even be archived and exported to other social media outlets. The app was interestingly named as the only fruit to grow in pairs, as the trees only produce the fruit when in proximity of another tree.
Fix-A-Fight – Developed by a clinical psychologist, this app walks people through arguments toward successful resolutions. It includes self-soothing technique suggestions, functionality designed to help identify and communicate emotion, and offers “quick fixes” for each step in the repair process.
Cozi – This free app provides a centralize location for a lot of the planning that’s required in running a household. You can input kids’ school schedules, make to-do and grocery lists, and assign chores with it. It integrates with Google calendar, and even includes release dates for movie night.
The Gottman Apps – The country’s most renowned couples researchers, Drs. John and Julie Gottman, have released their set of ten free apps as well, designed to increase intimacy and logistic coordination between couples. These include Give Appreciation, Expressing Needs, Affection and Lovemaking, Sex Questions to Ask Your Man and Sex Questions to Ask Your Woman. These Apps are grounded in the Gottmans’ research and are excellent augmentations to couples therapy.
With these apps, it’s possible to turn the power of smartphones from a divisive force in a relationship to a unifying tool.