Ah, Facebook. Isn't it the best?! You can search for people you haven't even thought about since elementary school and then chat with them on a whim! You can spy on old flames, rejoicing that you picked the right spouse after all. You can reconnect with far away family, create invites to events in seconds, and tell the world about your dinner plans all in one place. Sounds harmless enough. And it can be. It can also be the most dangerous thing in the world to your marriage.
It only takes a quick search on the internet to see how often Facebook is now being cited in divorce cases. The numbers are staggering as far as I'm concerned. Now, I understand that numbers can be skewed. Do I think 1 in every 5 people on Facebook is really having an affair? Of course not. Do I think that a rocky marriage is going to fall apart because both parties have an account? No. But I think that if a couple is not extremely, incredibly careful, they can easily become another statistic.
Case in point: A person is having a hard time in their marriage. They reach out to a friend of the opposite sex, quite possibly someone they haven't seen in years. The "friend" listens. They compliment. They lavish praise and build up self-esteem. Suddenly a little hill in the marriage seems like an insurmountable mountain. The "friendship" takes on the shade of the greenest grass. Before they know it, they're in a full blown emotional affair, nothing to scoff at. Maybe it goes a step more, maybe it doesn't. But their marriage is worse for the wear, if not destroyed. Even if their partner never finds out, and they probably will, the affair will change that person. The guilt will consume them, turn them into someone they hate. And then they will take that anger, that self-loathing, and turn it around on their partner. And poof, their marriage completely self-destructs like the impossible mission it should never have been.
I'm going to cut right to the chase on this one. I knew that this particular blog would be the hardest to write in the series (but also too important to me not to) because people don't want to admit that they are susceptible to this particular sin or even already engaged in it. I'll make this simple: If you have a password on your phone to unlock it and your spouse doesn't know what it is, if you are deleting phone calls or texts, if you are deleting conversations off of Facebook, or if you are getting rid of emails, then you are on a slippery slope towards the ruination of your marriage, if you aren't there already. You can build walls to hide from the guilt, you can blame your spouse to justify what you're doing, you can even get a divorce to continue living the lie, but sooner or later, reality will find you. And that wall you've so carefully constructed, well, it will crush the people behind it. The people that love you, rely on you, and believe in you. And they will never look at you in quite the same way. And honestly, when that wall comes crashing down, you won't see yourself the same way either. I know. I've seen it. I've watched it over and over. I've been there for friends in their anger, their justifications, their wake up calls. And none of them, NONE OF THEM, ever thought that they would be another social media casualty.
If you are going through a rough patch, ask yourself if the temptation is worth it. For us, in the midst of our problems, Facebook was causing lots of jealousy and compounding the insecurity of a rocky relationship. "Why are you friends with them? How do you know them? Why are they commenting on everything you write?" Our counselor looked at us incredulously one session and asked us WHY we were holding on to something so trivial if it was causing us to fight?! Light bulb moment! We made a decision then and there to join our accounts and we have never looked back. We have all of each other's email passwords and we leave our phones lying around when we are at home instead of carrying them with us from room to room like lifelines. That may seem extreme or even ridiculous to other people, but since we've done it, we don't fight much anymore and the tension has disappeared in this area. I'm not telling you what is or isn't right for your marriage, but if it's causing problems, perhaps it's time to think about priorities. And if it's not, make sure to take steps to keep it that way. Your marriage is worth it!