A few years ago I read about the negative effect social media is having on marriages. A survey by a British legal service, for example, found that Facebook was involved in 30% of their divorce cases (it has been blamed for 20% of divorce cases here in the States).
Needless to say, I don’t believe social media is evil (it’s how my wife and I first “met”). But I do understand the inherent risks of using Facebook and similar sites. Many spouses are led astray by ease and anonymity with which they can interact with the opposite sex.
Here are some simple steps my wife and I have taken to protect our marriage and keep healthy boundaries in our online interactions.
1. Complete Transparency:
My wife and I have complete access to each others’ social media and email accounts. This is, in my opinion, the most important step we take to guard our marriage. She is welcome to open my computer/tablet and look at any email, chat, or profile (the same goes for my cell phone). I am free to do the same with her. This is not something we regularly do–the point is not to have a “weekly inspection.” It’s all about attitude–we both understand that having a private online world is harmful and dangerous.
2. Boundaries in Communications with the Opposite Sex:
It is not uncommon for young ladies to email me asking for relationship advice (it’s the nature of having this kind of blog). I do respond to their questions as a pastor/minister. I also keep in touch with a few classmates, workmates, and former ministry team members of the opposite sex. But I do not get involved in frequent, lengthy chats with women. A message here and there is fine, but daily, intimate conversations are reserved for my wife.
3. Profile Picture:
A while back I decided that my profile picture on Facebook will always be one of my wife and me together (she does the same with her profile). The reason is pretty simple: we want anyone to runs across our individual profiles to know we’re happily married. This may not seem like a big deal, but I believe this first impression does send a powerful signal.
4. Public Pages:
Another step I’ve taken is to put a little more emphasis on my public Facebook page. This is especially helpful for bloggers or public figures who want a way to connect with people that is a little less personal. My wife is an administrator on my page and can read any message that a follower might send.
Some may decide to be even more cautious with social media. Mare Cris and I haven’t taken these steps, but they are worth considering.
I know of some married couples that have decided to delete their individual accounts and just use a single account as husband and wife.
Another option is to simply deactivate your Facebook account altogether.
Hopefully I’ve given you some helpful ideas for guarding your marriage while using social media. You may want to read Hedges by Jerry Jenkins for more advice on this topic.