The phone is always there — by the sink, in the car, on the desk, in the pocket and on the nightstand. Many of us check email first thing in the morning and just before bed. Our cultural obsession with constant contact and feedback can be detrimental to our real-life relationships. Taken to the extreme, continuously checking email, text messages or the Facebook feed can spell the end of a marriage. (Read: sexy texting someone else’s spouse.) But phones aren’t all bad. In fact, some smart phone apps claim to improve your marriage.
Real Love Notes
This app lets you create custom messages on virtual sticky notes, which you send via email, MMS, Facebook or Twitter. There are 140 love quotes and sayings, or you can write your own. I admit I’d swoon at, “My heart is ever at your service” by that player, William Shakespeare, but I might get just as excited over, “Meet me at the Mexican restaurant.” What can I say? I like chips. Real Love Notes lets you keep track of the messages you’ve already sent — just in case you’re not actually paying attention or sending the most heartfelt messages. This could be the best $1.99 you ever spend. Then again, if your other half doesn’t reciprocate, it might just lead to a fight. (Don’t worry, there’s an app for that.)
Daily Temperature Reading
This app was created by the PAIRS Foundation, which stands for Practical Applications of Intimate Relationship Skills, or as I interpret it: Shoot me now. It takes couples through five daily steps to nurture their marriage by prompting them to do certain things that enhance communication and connectedness. These include expressing things like appreciation, news of the day, concerns and “hopes and dreams.” The intention of the Daily Temperature Reading is to keep everything on track — in a very systematic way — before trouble starts. Responsible preventive measure, or just more items on the daily to-do list? Hard to say without giving it a shot, which you can do without risk — this app is free in the iTunes store.
For a mere $1.99, men can track the menstrual cycle of the women in their lives! This app could potentially help men with everything from carpool negotiations to predicting how their constructive criticism of — well, anything, really — might be received. Enter the start day of her most recent cycle to set this master calendar in motion. Code Red might be especially handy for dealing with extreme PMS, or for couples engaged in the very reliable rhythm method of birth control. This gem sends alert messages for each cycle phase, along with tips and advice to help survive it. Here’s my tip: Use your data wisely. We appreciate that you want to understand women, but tracking our periods is creepy.
Marriage Calculator LITE
Not sure where your marriage stands? Now you can find out — for free! Marriage Calculator LITE estimates your marriage’s chance for survival based on six pieces of information: the name of the state you live in, race, socio-economic status, ages of both individuals, and current living arrangements. Using university studies and U.S. census data, this app provides a marriage rating between 1 and 100. Score not where you’d like? Maybe it’s time to move on from maintenance apps to the heavy lifters. Read on.
Mind Over Marriage
Mind Over Marriage is a solution finder for common marital problems. Couples can use this app to access curriculum that teaches preventive techniques to avoid typical fights. Mind Over Marriage is your own pocket marriage counselor, and it may be easier to get your spouse to consult the phone than visit the couch. The app also includes advice for couples facing unique issues, such as special needs children, military service, infidelity, and addiction. It’s $2.99 at iTunes. The only question: Is your marriage worth the cost of a latte?
Marriage Fight Tracker
Finally, an app to help you remember the hurtful details of each and every spat. Marriage Fight Tracker allows you to record the specifics of arguments long since past, but as yet unresolved. Keep track of the date, facts, and description of your battle so that you’re ready for the next fight! The app also includes daily relationship rules, marriage advice via video, and marriage tips. Apparently “Let it go” is not among them. I suspect this app is popular with divorce attorneys, but I’d counsel you to keep your $1.99.
Fix a Fight
If Fix a Fight can really fix issues in your marriage just as easily as changing a tire, it’s worth the spendy price tag: $4.99. Guiding you through the steps to “repair relationship wounds” is the “soothing and authoritative” voice of a real life marital therapist. I don’t know about you, but the last thing I need in the midst of marital mayhem is a calm voice of reason telling me what to do. However, some couples may benefit from the individualized progress reports. Strive for an “A” in communication and you’ll be ahead of the curve.
Can these programs really make your marriage happier? Or would their use become simply something else to fight about? The answer depends on many things — the couple, the app, the phone’s battery life. Only one thing is certain—the phone is here to stay. Sadly, that’s more than we can say for a lot of marriages.
Lela Davidson is a freelance writer and the author of “Blacklisted from the PTA”, a collection of irreverent essays about motherhood and the modern family. She blogs about marriage, motherhood, and life-after-40 on www.afterthebubbly.com.