Cellphones Save Marriages?

Today I came out of the supermarket and headed towards my car. A couple in their 50s were pushing a cart just ahead of me. I noticed them particularly because they were conversing in fairly loud voices. I was parked right next to the cart return kiosk and as I offloaded my bags the woman headed towards the kiosk and me to return a cart.

It was odd that the woman kept talking to her companion as she walked away from their car – where he was offloading bags too – but she never raised the level of her voice. Then I noticed that the guy, now with his head half into their black SUV, was talking too. Also not loud enough for myself or the woman, who was now almost next to me, to hear. Especially since she continued to talk steadily in a conversational voice all the time that she walked.

I realized suddenly that each of these people was carrying on a conversation, but neither of them was conversing with the other. Although I was observing four people engaged in conversation in the parking lot of Shoprite, only two of those participants were physically present. They both wore earbuds.

The way those two present people interacted made it pretty clear they were a couple with a long history. I know that long-term, frequent contact with another individual’s personal idiosyncrasies can eventually foster frustration, and also that boredom can set into relationships of many years standing. Too much time spent together with not enough distractions to keep attention occupied on external matters can eventually cause contention to sneak into relationships.

Clearly, these people had located the holy grail in terms of relationship saving. Their cellphones permit them to enjoy the benefit of two bodies sharing a physical chore like grocery shopping . . . without the couple needing to engage with each other’s personalities or thoughts while together. I can see where for some couples, this could definitely be a relationship saver.

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