Facebook is bad for your marriage?

One of the things about being married 20+ years is that people expect you have a clue on marital advice. However, if you are in the married 20+ years crowd then you know that there is no "secret to success"...only things that are beneficial and things that are detrimental. If you are lucky, you learn by the advice of others, but more often you learn by making the mistakes. As you might imagine, some mistakes are hard to come back from.

So, the topic has come up recently on Facebook being bad for marriage because it reconnects spouses with people from their past. And I was wondering how I felt about that. After all, I love Facebook. I have deeply enjoyed reconnecting with some of my favorite friends--guys and girls. However, I can't dispute the stories of marriages devastated by it.

Under the heading of "things that are beneficial" and "things that are detrimental" I actually have some advice...

1) Share passwords and genuinely give permission for your spouse to access your account. If you and your spouse don't have the type of relationship where you can do that or if you hold "privacy" as a value...you have work to do. (If you are curious, John and I have shared passwords for everything.)

2) Don't look up ex'es. You used to have feelings for those people and I believe the potential remains no matter how happy you are in your current life. I'm not talking about the kid you held hands with when you were 12. I mean the serious ones. The ones you thought you might share a life with. Of course, like you I'm also deeply curious as to how people I was serious about turned out. But, I also think it is good advice not to indulge the curiosity. Tommy Nelson once said "It starts like ping pong. They say something. You say something back. They say something. You think about something clever to say next." Don't initiate the serve, and definitely don't return one. (Do you really need to know if your high school boyfriend is working at McDonalds or on Wall Street? If he's on Wall Street would you start wondering what if?)

3) Speaking of "what if"...be aware of the conversations of people who friend you. Ever hear a friend say to you, "I wonder what my life would have been like if I'd married so and so..."? It's a dangerous question. (For the record, I'm pretty sure that life is just the same but with different scenery, because the person asking the question would still be there.) If someone asks things that reveal they are asking themselves "what if" questions involving you, create distance.

4) Make it a practice to talk on the wall instead of via messages. If you find yourself choosing to message instead of posting in a way that will show up in the news feed, you might need to ask yourself why.

5) Jealousy is a reality. When I was younger, I thought it was a requirement to "not be jealous." (John did too.) When it comes to things we really care about, we can get into situations where we feel insecure. You can see this in 5-year-olds when they want to know which friend their best friend likes the best. (This doesn't go away. We just learn to manage it better.) Spouses do well to make themselves vulnerable enough to let the other spouse know they are the most important thing in the world and to avoid things that make their spouse feel insecure (or worse deliberately play games to validate themselves by drawing outside interest).

Bonus info:

6) Following the advice above does not make you "safe". You can be the most amazing spouse in the world and still have your spouse leave you for someone else because of their own personal baggage or need for validation. All you can do is make sure you lead a life of love and transparency. We are most responsible for the love we give our families. And while in a perfect world that love would be freely given and received, there is no control over reciprocation. You have to believe that love has value as a gift in and of itself.

Because it does.
© Random Cathy
Maira Gall