If you’re married & you’re on Facebook, you should read this

October 2, 2012 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

A claim made in this article doesn’t surprise me a bit:

“A survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers found that Facebook is cited as evidence in 66 percent of divorces in the United States. Also, more than 80 percent of divorce lawyers reported they “have seen an increase in the number of cases using social networking evidence” during the past few years.”

In fact, this may even understate the extent to which Facebook, like other useful and entertaining new-media communication platforms, is contributing to marital infidelity and other marriage problems.

Rather than restate what these articles say about what happens when married men and women develop private (or, worse yet, clandestine) online relationships with members of the opposite sex, I’ll just offer three common-sense suggestions that seem to me to be a set of bare-minimum rules of prudence for those who (like I) use Facebook regularly and who don’t want it to cause problems for their marriage.

It doesn’t take a genius to see that Facebook can be a great thing when used wisely, or a stick of dynamite when used foolishly.

Rule 1:  Your Facebook should be a completely open book for your husband or wife.

You need to “password-protect” your marriage. No joke. This means that your husband or wife should be able to log onto your Facebook account at a moment’s notice, any time of the day or night, especially when you are not there. Aside from, perhaps, planning a surprise party for your husband, if you are keeping anything “secret” from him in terms of your online interactions with other men, you are heading down a slippery slope.  How to avoid it? Simple: He should know your password and, of course, if he has a Facebook account, you should know his.

This rule isn’t intended to foster “snooping” or paranoia, but it will help you ensure transparency and honesty with your husband or wife when it comes to your dealings with others online. Guys, knowing that your wife can at any time read anything you write on your Facebook page will have a very clarifying effect on what you write. In other words, abiding by this rule will help you avoid situations in which you might be tempted to say something you wouldn’t want your wife to see. One solution is to simply share one Facebook page between the two of you. Doing this can help fire-proof your marriage against an unscrupulous old flame.

Rule 2: Don’t flirt on Facebook.

Not even a little bit. Not even in jest. What you think of as harmless could actually be a stumbling block of temptation to someone else. We all know what it’s like when something we’ve written in an e-mail, something intended to be completely innocuous and friendly, is misconstrued by the recipient as snarky or mean. Correcting negative miss-impressions resulting from  misunderstood text can be tricky. Just imagine how much more difficult it can be to fix a problem caused be someone who thinks you’re flirting with her, especially if she is receptive to it and starts reciprocating. And, ladies, my hunch is that this is even more true in reverse. Your intentions may be entirely innocent, but under the right wrong circumstances, a man could misconstrue your witty repartée in a way you didn’t intend it. Don’t be brusque, of course, but do be circumspect in what you say. We all have to remember that Big Things start out small. When it comes to temptations to flirt on Facebook, the safest course by far is simply to refuse to let the small things get started in the first place.

Rule 3: Don’t waste time on Facebook.

This doesn’t mean don’t use Facebook, but definitely don’t waste time on it. And as someone who uses Facebook, I know this is easier said than done. Most of us in the modern digital age know from experience the temptation to fritter away valuable time online. Facebook can be a huge and even dangerous time-drain. Why dangerous? Because if you aren’t careful, wandering aimlessly from page to page, profile to profile, picture to picture, can quickly lead down the path of undue curiosity that can just as quickly lead to lustful thoughts, which can, if you’re not careful and willing to discipline yourself, lead to worse things. The old adage is certainly true: “Idleness is the devil’s workshop.” Or, as the famous wit wit Samuel Johnson once wrote: “If you are idle, be not solitary; if you are solitary be not idle.”

To elaborate on this growing problem of Facebook-caused marriage troubles, here’s a sample from the first article. It’s well worth reading, sharing with your spouse, and then implementing rules like the ones above in order to help yourself avoid potentially disastrous problems.

If you’re single, Facebook and other social networking sites can help you meet that special someone. However, for those in even the healthiest of marriages, improper use can quickly devolve into a marital disaster.

A recent survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers found that Facebook is cited in one in five divorces in the United States. Also, more than 80 percent of divorce lawyers reported a rising number of people are using social media to engage in extramarital affairs.

“We’re coming across it more and more,” said licensed clinical psychologist Steven Kimmons, Ph.D., of Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Ill. “One spouse connects online with someone they knew from high school.

The person is emotionally available and they start communicating through Facebook. Within a short amount of time, the sharing of personal stories can lead to a deepened sense of intimacy, which in turn can point the couple in the direction of physical contact.”

Though already-strained marriages are most vulnerable, a couple doesn’t have to be experiencing marital difficulties in order for an online relationship to blossom from mere talk into a full-fledged affair, Kimmons said. In most instances, people enter into online relationships with the most innocent of intentions.

“I don’t think these people typically set out to have affairs,” said Kimmons, whose practice includes couples therapy and marriage counseling. “A lot of it is curiosity. They see an old friend or someone they dated and decide to say ‘hello’ and catch up on where that person is and how they’re doing.”

It all boils down to the amount of contact two people in any type of relationships –including online – have with each other, Kimmons said. The more contact they have, the more likely they are to begin developing feelings for each other.

“If I’m talking to one person five times a week versus another person one time a week, you don’t need a fancy psychological study to conclude that I’m more likely to fall in love with the person I talk to five times a week because I have more contact with that person,” Kimmons said. . . . (continue reading)


Enter the Conversation...

11 Responses to “If you’re married & you’re on Facebook, you should read this”
  1. anthony says:

    Facebook was invented by a guy to get back at a female student for being dumped!(we saw the film mark well done)
    It already had the kiss of death put on it from the begining.
    It has made millions on the stock market.
    thanks to people who are dumb!
    In this age of advance in computers and social net working it is more than possible and without effort to create your own personal network for your family and real friends and that way it stays private no need for passwords or worrying about strangers or weird stuff happening.
    facebook is a way to sell advertising, to promote as well as a social network thats how they make money remember that folks!!.
    there are some FB pages that are NOT on a person to person call.
    its a page for people to follow, example a famous writer or actor or singer.
    they will not answer you personally at all you could make a comment but 99% it will not be answered purely because its being used to update and sell that perticular celebs new whatever for sale.

    some celebs however do comment and when they have without naming names they have been dragged into the spotlight and got into trouble,but mostly this is rare.

    but really if you dont want to take the risk of being on facebook or anything like that.
    set up your own personal network for your family and stay private and enjoy it!!
    there are lots of ideas and easy steps to do it and the cost is very small and its not rocket science!

  2. Great article!!! I agree 100%!!!!

  3. Cross says:

    My marriage and trust has been destroyed because of secret messages between my husband and a woman he hasn’t seen in 25+ years. She contacted him with the help of his mother. She told him she had dreams about him and then he started asking for details. Well the rest can be figured out. He says he didn’t do anything wrong, so why do I hurt so bad?

    • lore says:

      este articulo es muy acertado…yo tengo facebook y la verdad es que con la gracia de Dios puedo usarlo correctamente…pero mi esposo ya ha tenido este tipo de tentaciones q explica el artículo: agregando chicas que ni siquiera conoce, pero le parecen lindas..y tambien he visto que ha hablado por mensajes con alguna de ellas…creo que es tal cual como lo dice Patrick…es una tentación muy grande…frente esto, por mi parte, sólo me queda rezar mucho por mi esposo para que dios lo sostenga

  4. Rosa says:

    Patrick

    We both have a Facebook and have access to each other accounts. You rules are pretty much on target. As long and you and your spouse have an open communication, it should not cause any issues.

    Thanks
    Rosa

  5. A friend says:

    Yes, we single people have resigned ourselves uncomfortably to the end of personal emails to our newly-married friends of the same sex. Shared marital passwords–and their ally, zero marital boundaries–make it very difficult for friends of the same sex to get or give advice, counsel, and support on things that friends’ spouses have no business seeing or knowing.

  6. Mike Sanders says:

    I couldn’t agree more with the rules you stated. Rule number one hits home for me. I think husbands and wives should be completely open with each other. There shouldn’t be anything they want to hide frome each other. It is part of the spouse giving themselves entirely to the other spouse when they get married. Complete honesty and trust in each other.

  7. Seth says:

    Great article. Maintaining healthy boundaries seems to be a lost art these days, even among devout Christians.

  8. Cristina Brambilla says:

    Hi Patrick,

    Very good and wise article.
    One thing:

    I think it should be like that also for people in relationships, not only marriage.
    I have been in a relationship for 9 months and he has all my password and I have all his.
    Of course we completely trust each other and I don’t even check him so often but it should be like this if you want to have a serious relationship that leads to marriage. Completely honest from the beginning.

    Thanks for your work, I just found your FB page and liked you.

    God bless.

  9. Beatrice says:

    I agree in that being transparent is a healthy and efficient way to secure a marriage, and sharing passwords is a way of showing trust too. Somehow one may receive as an excuse that sharing either facebook/laptop/email passwords is violating the other partner’s “privacy”. I would like to know, where does “privacy” starts, or if such thing can exist as an individual in a marriage?
    Thanks for your insightful posts! God bless!

  10. Suzanne Andrews says:

    Hi Patrick,
    My husband isn’t on Facebook(he’s strictly a Linked-In guy), but I’ll email him my password so he can check on me if he feels the need. I mostly use it to keep in touch with my family(we’re pretty far from them) and it’s resulted in increased phone conversations with my fallen-away brother. Thanks for sharing this wisdom!

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