I was in college when social media really started to take off. First it was MySpace, which everyone had and so of course, I had to jump on the bandwagon too. I didn’t really do much with it and since we had old flip phones still, there was no “data plan” for your phone. I could call people and store numbers. That was about it.
Fast forward a few years and Facebook came on the scene. I was happy with my Android phone at the time and the blog was just a hobby that I “got to when I could.” I didn’t do much on Facebook for several more years, because I could only check it while on the computer and even then it was just scrolling and reading mindless information.
Pretty soon, the blog began increasing in traffic, so I increased my phone plan, complete with a new upgrade and began joining Instagram, Pinterest (after my sister-in-law introduced me to its wonderful-ness) and Twitter.
As the blog grew, my use of social media did as well.
However, I quickly realized that I was becoming obsessed.
I do suffer from a mild form of OCD, but it is usually managed fairly well. However, once these apps were installed on my phone, I had to keep them clear. And if you have the apps on your phone, you know that means constant contact with social media.
I didn’t realize at the time what this was doing to my marriage, but I soon found out.
After our children are in bed, my husband and I usually spend time together watching a movie or television show we enjoy. One evening I realized we were both sitting there on our technology, “watching” our shows together, but we weren’t really talking to each other. We used to talk for hours…about absolutely everything.
I missed our talks.
I realized that at this rate, we wouldn’t know each other long before our children were grown. And suddenly, I saw why people grew apart and I was determined not to let that happen to us.
It is an increasingly common reality that people are meeting online and then leaving their spouse of “x” number of years for someone they hardly know. But, there are steps you can take to avoid the Social Media Marriage slide.
5 Ways to Beat the Social Media Marriage
- Know each others logins & passwords – Being in ministry, my husband and I have always had a rule that we know each others logins and passwords and that we are never alone in a room, house or vehicle with anyone of the opposite sex. This was something we decided years ago and knew it was the best way to keep us accountable. It hasn’t always been easy, since I don’t see very well at night and some babysitters required transportation, we would often have to take all the kids with us. But, it was and is important for our marriage to be above reproach.
- No private messages/conversations with the opposite sex – For the same reason we have each others logins and passwords, we do not enter in to private conversations with people of the opposite sex, no matter how long we’ve known them. The other spouse is always given permission to read or listen in on conversations, except when it was appropriate for my husband as a pastor to counsel someone. Even then, he would often tell me in general terms what they spoke about, but I never knew the identity of the person. Nevertheless, we keep to this rule pretty strict, so that nothing inappropriate is said or misconstrued by the other party.
- Set strict social media “no-no” hours – After realizing we weren’t spending quality time together in the evenings, I set a rule with myself that I would do my best to be off all social media in the evenings when we were together. I work early in the mornings and late at night when everyone is in bed. I keep my phone on silent most of the time, so that notifications aren’t nagging at me all day. These have helped me be more focused on family and my husband.
- Set social media-free zones – Put down your phone and have a conversation – face-to-face. As we talked about me not being on the computer or phone in the evenings, we decided to set rules for social media and technology in our home. No technology is allowed at the table, unless we’re waiting on a phone call. We also have hours during the day we have declared social media & technology free with us and the children. It has helped not only our marriage, but our family communicate better.
- Make Jesus Christ the center of your marriage – With Jesus Christ as the center of your marriage, it is very difficult for temptation to creep in. I won’t say it doesn’t happen, but I will say it is very rare. Jesus Christ has never and will never condone affairs, nor does he “give an out” for those who find greener pastures, as it were.
In recent years and even months, I have seen the havoc social media can do to a marriage and I knew that was a road we didn’t want to travel. I have seen marriages broken apart by what started out as a “simple private message” that turned in to a weekly and then daily conversation that made them feel more love from the person behind the screen than the one they married.
No marriage is perfect, but with these steps in place you are well on your way to Avoiding the Social Media Marriage.