Is Facebook Bad for your Marriage?

Are you one of the 500 million active Facebook users around the world today? Maybe you access a range of social media platforms daily, or maybe you’re a little wary of the whole idea? Maybe you think Facebook is a fantastic tool for keeping in touch with people, or maybe you’re worried about privacy or loss of traditional face to face contact? Opinion is often divided on how and why we should use social media, but it’s hard to deny that it’s increasingly taking a key role in our society.

But have you ever considered how social media might affect your marriage?

For a couple of years now the statistic “Facebook linked to one in five divorces” has been quoted at different times in the UK and USA press. In March this year the Wall Street Journal wrote an article refuting this statement and showing gaps in the evidence base, but the question remains in the public’s mind: is Facebook bad for my marriage?

Groups like The Social Media Couple work to help couples create a balance in how they use social media. They are encouraged to embrace the benefits while also putting sensible boundaries in place to ensure that their marriage remains healthy. The website contains helpful tips and they have published the first book on this subject, “Facebook and Your Marriage”. Some of the benefits of social media that they point out include declaring to your circle of friends that you are “married” through your status; affirming your spouse publicly; and sharing photos etc easily, especially if one of you works longer hours or away from home.

In your marriage it’s a good idea to set boundaries with your partner in areas such as how you will spend your money or how you relate to the opposite sex. In the same way it’s a good idea to set boundaries about how you will use the internet and social media. We often talk about “safeguarding” children in relation to the internet, and it’s important to “safeguard” your marriage too. Perhaps it’s not something that many of us will have considered before, but couples can find it helpful to discuss this and set some guidelines together.

Here are some ideas that you might like to consider:

· Give your partner your log in details.
Knowing that your partner can access your email and other social media accounts really helps to keep your relationship transparent.

· Think carefully about who you are “friends” with.
Is adding your ex-boyfriend or girlfriend really a good idea? What would your motives be for doing this? Consider discussing it with your spouse before you do so. Adding a stranger as a friend on a network like Facebook is rarely a good idea.

· Never make a negative comment about your spouse on Facebook.
This is also true with regard to your children. Remember that lots of people you both know can see the comment, including, perhaps, your spouse’s colleagues or your children. Even if something negative is said in jest it can be embarrassing for your spouse and is hard to retract. The same is true of embarrassing pictures. Staying away from Facebook when you’ve just had an argument is a good rule of thumb!

· Decide together how much time it is appropriate for you both to spend on social networking sites.
Social networking can be strangely addictive and it can be easy for your spouse to feel you’re more interested in the computer than in them. Don’t let the internet get in the way of face-to-face time with your partner, of real conversations and date nights. Consider having a couple of days away from any social networking sites every so often to ensure that you are communicating with each other properly.

Remember, you can “de-friend” people. If someone is flirting with you online, you find yourself checking their profile regularly, or they are posting material that makes you uncomfortable, you can choose to no longer be their online friend. Protecting your marriage and yourself is much more important than increasing the number of friends that you have on Facebook.

As the use of social media websites grows and it’s likely to become more and more prominent in society over time, there will be lots of benefits from getting involved. But don’t forget tips like the above to ensure that you safeguard your marriage. As with any area of your married life, always think about how your spouse would feel as a result of your actions and make them your number one priority both on and offline.

This information is supplied in good faith, by Care for the Family who cannot accept responsibility for any advice or recommendations made by other organisations or resources. It is reprinted by their kind permission.