Recent research has shown that 20% of divorcees have listed “Facebook” or some other form of social networking as the reason for their divorce; counselors have also noted that an increasing number of couples seeking marital counseling have cited Facebook as a major problem in their relationship. A New Jersey pastor who has counseled more than 20 couples who say Facebook has caused problems in their marriage has asked his parishioners to either delete their Facebook accounts or create a family page; he also asked 50 married officials at his church to delete their Facebook account or resign.
Some feel as though social networking, Facebook in particular, does not ruin marriages – people ruin their own marriages. That whether there be a Facebook or not some people would cheat regardless – once a cheater, always a cheater.
I found several couples who blame their divorce and/or marital problems specifically on Facebook. One lady shared that her husband “friended” an ex-girlfriend from high school; and began having an affair with this woman. The wife found out about the affair after the husband cheated on and left the ex-girlfriend for someone else he had become friends with on Facebook. The couple is currently going through a divorce. A spouse cheating on their wife or husband with an ex-girl/boyfriend from high school has repeated itself more times than I care to mention. Then there is the gentleman who at the urging of his wife set-up a Facebook account and sent a friend request to his wife. The wife accepted the friend request, but blocked her friend list – the husband questioned this and the wife became very defensive refusing to unblock her friend list. The wife eventually deactivated her Facebook account. The husband now feels as if his wife was hiding something from him. And finally, there are those who excessively spend hours on the internet chatting or are on Facebook, neglecting their spouse. Many spouses expressed a concern that the excessive time that their spouse spends on Facebook could be spent with them.
After hearing of the problems these couples were having, I compiled a list of tips for married couples who use Facebook.
Facebook etiquette for married couples:
1) Do not friend an ex-girl/boyfriend.
This one seems like a no brainer. However, some people may feel as if there is no harm in Facebook friending a person they have dated – I caution against this, this seems to be the common thread shared by those spouses who learn of their partner’s infidelity connected to Facebook; the spouse befriended an old girl/boyfriend.
2) Do not feel obligated to friend everyone from your past. Some people are in your past for a reason; it’s okay to leave them there – don’t feel obligated to accept a friend request from someone in your past who you feel has no place in your present or future.
3) Do not friend people you don’t know.
Once again, this one seems like a no brainer, however, some people have/do friend people who they don’t know because they either share friends or have common interests. I again caution against this. You may friend them as a nice gesture not knowing what the person’s ulterior motives are – unfortunately some people use social networking sites such as Facebook as a breeding ground for finding companionship – you don’t want to be a target – there are some who could care less that a person is married.
4) Don’t flirt.
Never ever flirt with someone who is not your spouse. A little flirting here and there might seem meaningless to some – however, this is the door that has led to many affairs.
5) Allow your spouse full access to your Facebook page. In a marriage there should be full disclosure always. Even if you have nothing to hide, limiting your spouse’s access to your Facebook page just seems suspicious. I agree that there should be trust in a marriage, this goes both ways – your spouse should trust you enough to not care about having full access to your page and vice versa, and you should be open and honest enough to offer your spouse full access to your page.
6) Limit your time on Facebook. Be cognizant of the time you spend on the internet and Facebook. I have said more than once, a huge time waster is Facebook. If you find yourself complaining that you do not have enough time in the day to do what needs to be done, take a break from Facebook and observe how much time you might have to do other things.
I realize that there are still those who believe that Facebook and other social networking sites is not responsible for the demise of so many marriages, however, I say the proof is in the pudding which are the recent divorce decrees that specifically list “Facebook” as having caused and/or contributed to the reason for the divorce.