My husband and I text each other like teenagers. We have far more texting conversations than we do face-to-face and it’s a rare day where we go more than a couple of hours without texting each other. The fact is surprising to friends and family, who have been witness to the constant back-and-forth of our text communications. Regardless of the content —and it might be the menu for dinner, a reminder about our children’s school schedule, or a simple “I love you!” — the texts fly fast and furious from sunrise to bedtime. The fact is, texting has become our primary form of communication in the past few years and it doesn’t bother me a bit. I love it.
The beauty of texting is that it simplifies our lives while intensifying our connection. Sending texts is easier than making a phone call — when one of us is likely busy with work or childcare — and written communication is a good way of keeping track of shared information from dates of parent-teacher conferences to grocery lists. We go back and forth constantly, every day, sharing the minutiae of our lives with each other whether it’s about an NPR interview he heard on the way to work or a photograph of our sons on their first morning of school. Texting has become a way to improve our communication with each other and stay closer amid the chaos of our daily lives.
Texting also gives us peace of mind. I carry my phone with me on my nightly walks with our dog and text him once or twice during the walk, sending a photo of a particularly gorgeous moon or asking him to feed the cat. He texts me when he arrives safely at work in the morning and again when he leaves for home in the afternoon, giving me an estimated time of arrival. I text him when I drop off the kids at school in the morning and let him know my plan for after school. And so it goes. It’s not only about safety, it’s about connection — feeling as if our family is together, even when we’re in our various pursuits.
And yes, we even text each other from different rooms of the house. If that sounds like a warning sign of a bad relationship or an addiction to tech, let me explain: We have two young children who fill our days (and nights) with chatter and stories of their own. In the evenings, we collaborate to get them to bed. We text each other while we’re getting them bathed and in bed, when they are capable of doing everything themselves but still require some supervision. Even though we’re in the same house, the many tasks that are involved in family life means that we aren’t usually face-to-face and alone until after 9 p.m. at night. By that time, there are few details of each other’s day that we don’t already know. I feel as if I had been sitting in his middle school classroom while he taught math, I know what traffic was like both morning and afternoon, even what he had for lunch. He knows about my writing deadlines, has received links to my newest published piece, and knows how much coffee I had in one of my writing sessions at the coffee shop. We are together even when we are apart.
Some couples may feel like this is all too much connecting, too much sharing. But this isn’t a new thing for us — we have always stayed this connected and involved in each other’s lives, using whatever technology we’ve had available. Phone calls, voice mails, emails, video chat, we have made the most of all of them. And before that, we wrote letters and cards. In fact, we still do. It’s not about the technology — though it has it has perks — it’s about togetherness in whatever form we can get it. Our lives have been this entwined since we got married and the only thing that has changed is the mode of communication. There is nothing like spending a couple of hours lying on the couch, holding hands and talking about everything that’s in our heads. But when time and circumstance doesn’t allow for that, we have our text messages to keep us together.
And now you’ll have to excuse me. I’m going to text my husband to see what he wants for dinner and tell him I love him.