There are apps for everything these days.
There is an app that makes fake working noises so you can secretly nap.
There’s an app to translate your baby’s cries.
One app wants you to pay $.99 to have a staring contest with a poorly drawn cartoon monkey.
But can an app help or even save your marriage?
The question can an app can help your marriage? is similar to asking if taking ballroom dancing classes can help your marriage, or if healthy eating can help your marriage. It all depends on the couple, their individual personalities, how they work together, and their goals.
One of the main reasons people come to marriage counseling is to improve their communication. Increasingly, electronic communication has taken the place of face to face interactions. FaceBook messaging, texting, Instagram, Google Talk, Skype, and email are all ways that people stay connected.
One type of relationship app aims to increase and improve communication and interaction between two people. One of these is called Couple, and another is Between. These apps encourage people to send messages, ‘stickers’, drawings, and lists to each other.
What makes these apps different from other forms of electronic communication is that they are for two specific individuals involved in a relationship. In order to use the app together, one person must send an invitation and the other must accept it. There is no group messaging, no forwarding of text messages, no accidentally sending the wrong person a message meant for your spouse.
The purpose of a second type of app is education. Apps such as Marriage Buzz, 5 Love Languages, and Go Mobile Therapy help relationships by giving information through podcasts, articles, and daily suggestions. These apps are usually a repeat of information and tips that can be found online, but the app format allows them to be accessed easily and quickly.
The third type of apps are more interactive and dynamic. They help a couple or individual identify the strengths and weaknesses of their relationship, and then provide tips and exercises to help the couple grow closer.
A good example of this type of app is called Fix a Fight. Fix a Fight walks you through the steps of repairing an argument. This is not a short process — it can easily take 30 or 40 minutes. But by the end, you and your partner should walk away with a good sense of what happened, the feelings involved, the knowledge that your partner understands your point of view, and some ideas about how you can work past the disagreement. It also allows you to track the level of each person’s emotional intensity at the beginning and the end of the process. Unlike most apps, this one can be used for any type of relationship.
Another one is called CoupleAid. It helps diagnose risk factors and difficulties in a relationship, and provides some excellent exercises specific to those needs. It’s translated from German, so some of the wording is a bit off and the interface is awkward, but it includes great clinical information and the exercises are unique and well thought out.
Relationship apps can be a fun and helpful way to learn new relationship skills, to increase communication, and to help a couple understand their relationship style, strengths, and weaknesses. They’re definitely not a substitute for marriage therapy, but they can add a bit of fun and increase interaction during the day.
So after you’ve added cats to all your photos, try downloading a relationship app or two. Let us know what you think!
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