It seems that I’m not the only one pondering this question. Every time that I log onto Pinterest I see lots of pins about how destructive social media is to your relationships. One pastor, the Reverend Cedric Miller of Living Word Christian Fellowship Church in New Jersey, believes that Facebook is the root of many problems in a marriage and is requesting that his married church members delete their Facebook accounts.
“I’ve been in extended counseling with couples with marital problems because of Facebook for the last year and a half. What happens is someone from yesterday surfaces, it leads to conversations and there have been physical meet-ups. The temptation is just too great.” –Rev. Cedric Miller
Rev. Miller is not the only who sees the effects of Facebook on marriages. According to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 81 percent of their members have used or been faced with evidence pulled from Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and other social networking sites in divorce cases over the last five years.
Check out this infographic from Total Divorce.
Among my own online friends I have seen many couples who’s marriages have felt the damaging effects of social media. For couples who do not share their passwords with their spouse, it is so easy to hide those online conversations.
My question is, if you feel the need to hide the conversation is it a conversation you should be having to begin with?
So, is Facebook to blame for the destruction of relationships or are we just using it as a scapegoat?
I think the basis of a good relationship should be communication and trust. Keeping those lines of communication open with your spouse is paramount to balancing a healthy marriage and a clean online presence. Are you upset with your spouse about something? Communicate that to your spouse. Don’t air your dirty laundry on Facebook. Letting others know you are having problems within your marriage may signal to them that you are open to communicating and even flirting with another individual. What can start out as an innocent conversation with a member of the opposite sex could quickly escalate to something more, when that person is the one you are opening up to rather than your spouse.
So what can couples do to protect their marriages?
How can you have a Facebook account and keep your marriage safe? Saving Dollars and Sense has a great post about Facebook Rules for Marriage. She has some great tips such as declaring your marriage publicly. Make sure that those you are online friends with know that you are married by posting your relationship status as “Married” and commenting, liking, and linking to your spouse’s profile often.
She also recommends sharing your login info with your spouse. Many people may not agree with this tip but personally I believe just knowing that your spouse could log in to your account at any time will remove the temptation to interact with someone who could cause a problem in your marriage.
So, should you delete your Facebook account? Many couples choose to create one joint Facebook account in order to avoid the temptations that an individual account can bring.
How am I dealing with Facebook? I can’t bring myself to completely delete my account because of the fact that I have lots of family and close friends who live far away. Facebook is the best way for us to keep in contact. Also, I use my Facebook account to link to our Two Chics and a Blog Facebook page, so deleting it completely is not really an option.
So, my solution has been to purge my Facebook friends list until I am only friends with “close friends” and family members. I didn’t decide to purge my friends list because I was afraid of inappropriate relationships developing. My reason was completely different. I was tired of seeing people’s constant status updates about their new clothes and new cars or those who were constantly complaining about their life, job, family, friends (or lack of), etc. My theory was if I wouldn’t have a conversation with this person in the grocery store, why keep them on my friends list!