The mobile phone - the third person in the bedroom

Instead of talking to each other, we are secluded in our phones and loneliness; And then, a few years down the line, couples say they no longer have anything in common

Rabbi Rafi Ostroff|
The bedroom was and is supposed to be an intimate space for every couple. Nowadays, we always add a third partner to our bedroom. No. Not what you are thinking. It is our mobile phones. Our mobile phone has become an extension of our arm. Probably the only place we don’t take it with us is the shower. People bring it to the synagogue and to church, to the classroom, to dinner and even to the bedroom.
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It is definitely the "third person" in the room who interferes with the couple's intimacy. Instead of talking to each other, we are secluded in our phones and loneliness. And then, a few years down the line, couples say they no longer have anything in common.
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בני זוג אישה גבר מיטה טלפון נייד
בני זוג אישה גבר מיטה טלפון נייד
(Some of the ideas written below are based on Michah Goodman's book The Attention Revolution - I highly recommend reading)
Back in the Middle Ages, I, and many of my cohorts, grew up without a mobile phone in our hand. So we know what it's like to be "without". But we too have lost the ability to do many things without a mobile phone. The journey from one point to the other is completely different. We do not use maps or ask people "how do I get there". But today's generation is growing up with everything the world has to offer at their fingertips from the moment they're born.
We are always distracted. We glance at our phones at any chance we get to see what's new. As soon as we open our eyes in the morning, within seconds, we check what's new and what we missed while we were sleeping.
But for now, we live in the "Middle Generation". What's that? In a few years, I'm sure that we will know how to manage the technology we created, instead of it managing us. But in the meantime, we are slaves to our devices and we surrender to them unconditionally. Not because we are weak, but because the best minds in the world sit in Silicon Valley and receive huge salaries for one purpose only: so that we never leave our mobile phones. This is their business model. Nothing is free, and in exchange for using their apps, we've enslaved ourselves to them.

Let's get back to relationships

The phone is with us while we talk to each other, during meals, while we go out to a coffee shop or for an evening walk. In each of these times, it is enough that it is in our pockets and not even in our hand, and a large portion of our attention would be dedicated to our phones and not our partners.
That is the reality. We can deny it, but if we examine ourselves, we will realize that this is the sad truth. We want our phones with us at all times, lest God forbid, we are left alone with ourselves or with our partners without distractions.
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(Photo: Shutterstock)
Let's move into the bedroom. The very presence of the phone in the bedroom is interfering with our relationship and is the very real "third person in the room". It is a disruption of our intimacy, even if you just intend to go to sleep. But, even when the couple goes to bed to have sex, the very presence of the mobile phone in the room throws the focus off what's important; off each other. An essential part of intimacy is your feelings, the touch, the sounds and the smells. When our attention is divided and not fully focused on what is happening to our body, we feel nothing.
When the phone is in the room while having sex, don't expect magical pleasure – it's not there. You may be able to perform mechanically and technically, something that needs to be ticked off and then drop off to sleep.

Don't pick it up until your partner has fallen asleep

Our sages in convey to us a different message. The period of Nida (menstruation) is supposed to be of physical distance only - not a mental or even intimate distance. Even during this time, and perhaps even more so, we must take care of the connection of our souls and remember that what connects us is not only physical. Therefore, even during the prohibited period, the phone is a disturbing factor that should not be brought between us. All the more so when we are trying to connect physically and emotionally.
I used to believe that men were more prone to addiction than women. However, I've come to realize that all individuals, regardless of gender, can become enslaved by man-made creations, albeit sometimes in different ways.
Rabbi Rafi Ostroff Rabbi Rafi Ostroff Photo: Courtesy
So what should we do? I live in the real world and know that most people won't leave their phones in the living room. If it is in the room, then at least turn it off completely during intercourse. Yes Yes! The rest of the time, when you go to bed, you put it aside, quietly and you don't pick it up until your partner has fallen asleep.
And even then, it's better to read a book in bed than to waste time on the phone.
Rabbi Rafi Ostroff is an experienced marriage and positive sexual educator. He works mainly within the religious community answering a need that has not been openly discussed ever. He also is a Holocaust & Jewish Heritage guide in Poland. With a great passion for education, Rav Rafi is devoted to teaching and accessing knowledge for every student. He lives with his wife Lali in Alon Shvut. He can be reached here.
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