Social Media and Marriage

Growthtrac Marriagec Medic

Q

My wife spends way too much time on Facebook and talking to her friends on her phone. I can handle most of it, but when it comes to talking to friends, I get jealous. She says there’s nothing to worry about but I guess I’m insecure. Should I be concerned if she’s talking to other men and won’t let me see what she is saying?

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A

I sense from your request that you’ve been judging your wife’s activity her phone and on Facebook. I suspect you’ve criticized her rather than shared the issue that’s really bothering you — feelings of jealousy and insecurity.

Assuming you feel jealous, you join the ranks of many who feel displaced and disconnected by their more connected mates. When a spouse spends “too much time” Facebooking, video-gaming, or talking or texting on his or her cell phone, the mate standing by can feel rejected.

Now, on to the matter of with whom your wife is chatting — members of the opposite sex — and the fact that she won’t let you see who these people are. I’m a strong proponent of spouses being transparent in all their actions. Scripture tells us, “For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open” (Mark 4:22). Whether or not your wife is doing anything inappropriate is questionable, but the fact that she’s secretive is a matter of significant concern. When unchecked, what begins innocently enough leads to compromise and ultimately to trouble. When it comes to communication with the opposite sex, I believe in open accounts and transparency in conversations.

Here are a few additional thoughts on social media and marriage:

Accept social media. It does little good to make severe judgments about social media. Social media is here to stay and criticizing it will only cause a deeper disconnect with your mate. We must all come to terms with the fact that we are, or can be, very connected.

Acknowledge your feelings about social media. Even though social media is all around us and influences many aspects of our culture, you should acknowledge your feelings about it. If you feel threatened, first admit those feelings to yourself and then to your mate. Delve into what exactly is threatening to you and why you’re feeling what you’re feeling.

Talk about social media. Since social media is so prevalent, talk to your mate about how you feel about Facebook, Instagram, instant messaging, and cell phones. Share what threatens you and what you like about the cultural phenomenon. Take care to extract judgments and criticism from the conversation as they will be conversation stoppers or worse, provocations that lead to a fight.

Acknowledge the dangers of social media. Be very careful not to turn a blind eye to the dangers of social media. Openly talk about what could happen were you not to be careful. Know the damage that can be done if either of you are careless in how you use social media. Honor each other’s feelings and guard against sharing judgments.

Agree on boundaries with social media. As with most aspects of life, social media isn’t inherently bad but rather has ramifications that can be good or bad. The key is for you and your wife to agree on healthy boundaries around her use of social media. When it comes to social media and the opposite sex, I urge extreme caution. Collaborate on boundaries that work for you both. Be sensitive to your mate’s feelings, share ways she can honor your feelings of insecurity, maintain openness and transparency, and rigidly stay within your agreed-upon boundaries.

In summary, social media can be fun and exciting; it’s certainly part of the cultural explosion taking place in our lifetime. If you or your wife engage in it carefully — with appropriate limits — and with a sensitivity to each other’s feelings and boundaries, you’ll find ways to connect over this issue. Again, the key is to collaborate and honor each other.

I’d like to hear your thoughts and welcome reactions. Contact me at drdavid@marriagerecoverycenter.com. I encourage you to read about our programs at www.marriagerecoverycenter.com.

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