Divorce lawyers are reporting this month that 20 percent of divorce petitions cite Facebook as a contributor in the marriage’s demise. It’s unclear whether the numbers are accurate, but social networking can pose a new kind of threat to relationships if not used appropriately.
Facebook’s 350 million+ users find the site allows them to easily connect with friends and relatives, people they once knew, or new people with common interests. For some people, these connections can lead to curiosity, online flirting, wandering eyes, and the opportunity to rekindle old relationships or begin new ones.
The increasing use of mobile devices to communicate on social networking sites can make posts seem more private. However, nothing posted to the Internet is private, and these communications frequently become public knowledge.
Lack of trust by the offended spouse can result, and marriages may be splintered. Once relationships have been sparked, users may be tempted to cheat on their spouses, or may leave their marriages for a new or old flame. Temptation is as old as time, but some people may find this new type of temptation too alluring.
Some couples are opting to avoid social networks for these reasons. Others are putting in place guidelines for communicating with the opposite gender.
A helpful article at the Marriage Junkie gives 5 ways to protect your marriage if you use social networking.
A few tidbits they share include not sharing negative information about your spouse, choosing your “friends” wisely, discussing with your spouse what topics or people should be out of bounds, and avoiding private chats or the development of close relationships with members of the opposite sex. When in doubt, “unfriend” someone who is offensive or who sparks inappropriate feelings.
One tip I would add is to “friend” your spouse, or if they are not a member, provide your spouse access to your page at any time—not to “check on you” but so that you can chat about common friends and activities and have an air of openness.
A previous post details why emotional affairs can be just as deadly to a marriage as physical ones. Guard your mind and heart, and keep your focus and attention on your beloved spouse.
Do you use Facebook? Do you have any safeguards in place or do you see no need for them?
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