DISCERNING THE EFFECTS OF SOCIAL MEDIA ON YOUR MARRIAGE
Are you involved with social media — Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.? If so, do you think this involvement could have a negative impact on your marriage?
You may be tempted to dismiss the question altogether, but it’s worth pondering — especially if you’re serious about protecting and enhancing your connection with your spouse.
Remember, your marriage needs to be your most important relationship. It’s an exclusive bond that makes exclusive demands on those who enter into it. As far as you are concerned, it has to take priority over every other connection with every other human being. This is important to bear in mind since, at the most basic level, social media are all about relationships — whether virtual or real.
How can you tell if those online relationships pose a threat to your matrimonial bliss? There are a number of ways. First, if you sense that your feelings for your spouse may be slipping from the number one position, you need to stop and ask yourself some pointed questions. This is particularly true if the quantity and quality of your communication with your spouse appears to be going downhill.
Second, if social media are dominating your time — if you’re spending more time on Facebook than you are interacting with your spouse, and if you sense that online “relationships” are more enjoyable and fulfilling than your marriage or other “real life” activities — this is another sure sign that something isn’t right.
Third, watch out for disagreements about the content of your Facebook page or pages. If one spouse is unhappy with the way the other is representing the family, this could become a source of serious conflict. The problem can be especially significant if one partner feels that the other’s Facebook postings or photos are silly, that they’re giving the entire household a foolish reputation, or that they violate the sanctity of the marriage covenant or the family’s privacy in any way.
Fourth, arguments about the appropriateness of “friend” requests from ex-spouses or “old flames” can be another potential landmine. You’ll know that social media are impacting your marriage in a negative way if you ever find yourselves caught in the middle of that discussion.
Fifth, secrecy in any form is a serious danger signal. Do you feel a sudden compulsion to log off or minimize the Facebook window when your spouse walks into the room unannounced? If so, you need to ask yourself why. Transparency is the foundation of trust, and trust is essential to every successful marriage. Husbands and wives who are active in social media need to maintain an “open door policy” by sharing their passwords with one another, both out of mutual respect and as a way of ensuring accountability.
In connection with this last point, there are several additional questions you should probably ask yourself about your interactions with online acquaintances and “friends,” especially those of the opposite sex. Do your conversations include things that should be kept between you and your spouse? Do you find yourself daydreaming about any of these people? Do you look for excuses to visit them online? Do you share thoughts, feelings, or problems with them that you don’t reveal to your spouse? Are you convinced that they understand you better than your spouse does? If so, there’s a danger that these relationships may be crossing the line between the platonic and the romantic. It goes without saying that this is a serious red flag.