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Annie’s Mailbox: Husband won’t put down iPhone

Dear Annie: My husband is fascinated by technology. When the iPhone first came out, “Todd” got one right away and has been devoted to it ever since. The problem is that he is constantly checking his e-mail, Twitter and Facebook feeds.

Whenever I’m driving, Todd is online in the passenger seat. He uses his iPhone while we watch TV. He eats breakfast with it, brings it out at restaurants and uses it when we’re visiting family. Every month, he goes out to dinner with some of his old friends, and one night I joined them. They said it was nice to have some adult conversation, because Todd is constantly on his phone. Our eldest son has even told his father to stop “tap-tap-tapping” for a minute so he could talk to him.

When I point out his excessive online activity, Todd gets defensive, saying he’s looking stuff up for work, or that this is his way of having fun. I knew when I married him that he loved technology, but his obsession has gotten worse as the phones have gotten better.

I want my husband back. How do I get him to disengage from his phone and enjoy the time he spends in real life? – iPhone Widow

Dear Widow: Tell Todd that his phone has become an addiction, and ask him to compromise. Make a list of activities, and indicate when it is OK to use the phone and when it is not. Let him choose which times are most important to him, and then you pick what is important to you (e.g., when you’re driving, he can play with his phone; when you are eating a meal, he must turn it off). If Todd feels the process is fair, he may be more inclined to cooperate.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@

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