Can an App for Couples Really Improve Your Relationship?

Potential Benefits and Downfalls of 'Happy Couple' and Other Apps

Couple using the Happy Couple app

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It seems there are apps for just about anything, but could a couples app, such as Happy Couple, really improve your relationship? In other words, once you find that special someone (often through a dating app), are there apps that can help keep that relationship going over the long run? Certainly, each relationship app is different and every couple is different, so there's not a simple answer. Before signing up, it's a good idea to take a moment to think about any potential downfalls or risks as well as the potential benefits.

Potential Benefits

First, ask yourself whey you are considering a couples app, and what your motivation is. Could an app offer the chance to improve communication and enhance emotional intimacy, or is it simply another "screen time" activity that will further limit the face-to-face time so many of us are lacking?

There are a number of ways that a couples app could improve your relationship. Apps with questions that you've been putting off or avoiding could be a stimulus to have an in-depth conversation about some of those issues. While technology can create distance between a couple, it can also help create closeness. Keeping in touch with your partner via fun or flirty texts throughout the day is a great way to express your love and that you are thinking about him or her. Alternatively, never having any deep, meaningful face-to-face conversations is not likely to sustain the intimacy needed for a long-term relationship to survive.

Some apps help people examine the day to day challenges couples face and the difficulty in maintaining balance. An app may help you both look at your individual responsibilities in the relationship in a concrete and clear way, and even help you see if you are heading in the direction you hope by looking at short-term and long-term goals.

A particularly positive benefit of following prompts and addressing questions on these apps is that they may help you break through some of your assumptions about the other person. We all make assumptions about what our partners enjoy and value, but sometimes we are wrong. And being wrong can lead to any number of misunderstandings. Yet, most couples make choices each day based on these assumptions.

Another one of the potential benefits of an app is also a potential downfall. What if you are honest, for example, and let your partner know that you think he is poor at apologizing? If you are prepared to work through the issue together, it could bring the two of you much closer.

Downfalls and/or Risks

Deciding if a couples app clearly has potential benefits is important as you consider adding more screen time to your day. A Nationwide survey conducted in 2017 found that adults (parents) spend an average of 9 hours and 22 minutes in front of a screen each day. (Screens referring to smartphones, tablets, computers, or televisions). This time is not due to the need to use screens at work, as 8 hours of the screen time was deemed "personal" and not work-related.

A related issue is that using a couples app might add yet another item to your to-do list. If you view the app as something you have to do rather than want to do, especially if it's something only one of you wish to do, it could lead to greater distance and even resentment. Those who are dealing with a partner who doesn't want to change aren't likely to find that an app solves the problem.

As we mentioned earlier, the motivation behind purchasing a couples app can be key as to whether the app could help or hurt. If your motivation in purchasing a couples app is to point out your partner's faults, it's not likely to be of benefit and could actually be harmful. Take an honest look at your motivation. If you are hoping that the app will somehow "open your partner's eyes" to something he or she is doing wrong, finding a good relationship counselor might be a better option.

These apps are also not all-inclusive, and may not delve into the issues that are most important to address in your relationship. In this sense, and if you have any serious issues, it could be like applying a bandage over a wound that continues to bleed. On the surface, it might look better, but underneath things could actually be worsening.

If you do choose to buy a couple's app, take a moment to think about the power of your words. Words can cause tremendous emotional pain and can be much sharper when typed on a screen than when said in person.

Overall, taking a moment to think of your intent before getting a couples app is an excellent way to weigh the benefits and downfalls. If you are hoping that it will be fun, and enrich your relationship, it very well may. If you are instead considering it as a way to repair serious relationship problems, think twice.

Couples Apps

There are a number of different apps that are designed to improve relationships. Some, such as Pathshare, help you keep track of each others day when you are apart. Others, such as Honeydue, can help you manage this issues associated with couple's finance. Yet others focus on specific relationship issues ranging from sex to fertility, to how to fix a fight (Fix a Fight app). These are some that are designed to enhance your overall relationship.

Happy Couple App

The “Happy Couple” app is available for download on both Apple and Android devices and uses quiz-style games to learn more about what your partner really thinks. Each day you open the app on your own phone and your partner does the same. There are six topics from which your questions are generated. The topics are, “sex,” “responsibilities,” “communication,” “recreation,” “emotional” and “information.” After setting up an account with your information, you generate a link to send to your partner so that he or she does the same. After you are both set up, you answer several questions about yourself and your partner on a daily basis. Later, visit your feed and find out if your answers matched or not. You get points for correct matching answers that unlock new levels. 

Discovering answer matches and mismatches is the best part. Each partner only gets half the answers which make you sit together to review the rest. You are bound to encounter some things you didn’t know about your significant other. Even marriage therapists may be surprised!

Just having the app, however, is not enough. One of the most important parts that you both must do is sit down and review your answers. This helps create the deep and meaningful conversations necessary to build connection and closeness in your relationship.

The content of the questions is written by Dr. Lonnie Barbach, a renowned California-based psychologist, and author of several best-sellers on sex and relationships. Dr. Barbach discusses her collaboration on developing this app. “I'd love to see it help couples have better relationships,” says Dr. Barbach. “Like my books, my goal is a way to help a larger audience who cannot afford therapy.” She believes the app has also been useful for dating couples “to learn more about each other and to better determine if they are a good match” and long-married couples to “inspire new conversations.” She notices that the app encourages conversation when couples are too shy to bring up important topics such as sexual interests. Dr. Barbach emphasizes her goal is “to help couples have the kind of conversations that keep their relationship alive and interesting.” 

Questions and tips were generated from scouring the internet on the topic of relationships. Dr. Barbach "worked backward" to develop questions out of the content. The app addresses couples at different relationship stages and has been surprisingly beneficial to the long-distance relationship.

Gottman Card Decks

An app called Gottman Card Decks is another that has the potential to improve your relationship. Put out by the Gottman Institute, the card decks make use of research-based approaches to relationships and are modeled after card decks used for weekend workshops for couples.

With 14 decks and over 1000 cards, the Gottman Card Decks use open-ended questions to get you and your partner talking about a multitude of topics that you may have overlooked. But that's not all. The cards are unique in helping people to name the emotions and the degree of emotions they are feeling. They are also designed to help people better express their own needs in the relationship as well as to express empathy towards the other partner. Altogether, there are many ways the cards can help couples reconnect in our currently overwhelming world.

Couple

The Couple app, formerly known as Pair, is another couples app that is somewhat like Facebook messenger but designed for only two people. Unlike some apps that are designed to help both members of a couple keep track of day to day activities, however, the Couple app focuses on helping people express love towards each other.

The app, which is available on both Android and Apple devices, is set in a timeline format. Features range from sharing photos to Facetime to using the thought bubble to let your partner know what you are thinking about him or her.

A Word From Verywell

Downloading a couples app has the potential to enrich your relationship, improve communication, and enhance intimacy, but it is not for everyone. Before downloading one of these apps, take an honest look at your motivation. If you are wishing to "correct" your partner, seeing a counselor or therapist face to face might be a much better option. That said, since so many apps currently focus on finding the right person, or specific issues such as birth control or infertility, it's exciting to see apps that focus on maintaining those relationships over the long run. And these apps can help ensure that occurs.

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