Texting and Facebook can all too often wreck marriages.
Today I want to talk about a letter I received from a woman recently. She writes:
I love my husband very much, but one thing that bugs me is that he is always receiving texts from another woman at church. He thinks it’s funny, and he keeps texting her back, but the texts don’t stop. I think it’s inappropriate for a married man to text with another woman, but they both think it’s harmless. Help!
So what should this wife do?
At the same time, I recently read an article that quoted a British study which found that Facebook was implicated in one out of every eight divorces. I personally know a few divorces where Facebook played a major role, because someone reconnected with an old flame.
So I thought today we should address the whole technological threat to one’s marriage.
Let’s start with some basic rules.
1. In marriage, there shouldn’t be secrets. That means you should be able to use each other’s phones.
If your husband won’t let you use his phone, or you hesitate before turning your phone over to him, you have an issue. You should never be texting or talking to someone of the opposite sex in a way that would make your mate upset. Everything should be interchangeable. If he’s texting another woman frequently, that’s a problem.
I know many of you have friends that you talk to on Facebook who are guys. I’m not saying you can never comment on a guy’s status, or “Like” someone’s status. I’m just saying that if you’re tempted to turn the computer screen away so your husband won’t see, you have an issue.
2. Remember that work relationships can easily cross the line
If I can be totally transparent here, the only times in my marriage when I have even been remotely attracted to another man has been in a work situation, when that guy really did not know Keith. Now, those things never went anywhere, and it wasn’t as if I had a crush or anything, it’s just the only times I ever even noticed that a guy was attractive were in scenarios where my husband didn’t know the man, like during my university days.
In a work situation, it’s very easy to think of yourself as separate from your husband, because your coworkers don’t tend to know him. And that’s when these things can creep in.
Now, I haven’t been in very many work situations in my marriage, so this really hasn’t been an issue for me. But most men are in these work situations all the time, and many women are constantly, too. We need to guard against these things.
So set boundaries where you work, and don’t start texting or Facebooking a coworker inappropriately.
I was texting a co-worker (someone I’m often on tour with) recently about a few things, but Keith was right in the car with me, and I was reading it as I texted it. (and laughed and read his reply out loud to Keith, too). I don’t think that’s a big problem. But texting constantly, when your husband doesn’t know, is wrong.
3. Don’t chat
Communicating information is one thing (sometimes with coworkers we have to); chatting is an entirey different story. I can’t really think of a scenario in which Facebook chat with a man who is not your husband is appropriate. If he needs counseling, for instance, you’re not the one to give it to him anyway. If it’s an old friend you’ve just found after twenty years, it’s more important to write a long “catch up” letter, with pictures of your kids and husband, etc., then it is to chat.
Chatting really starts a relationship and some intimacy, so don’t do it.
4. Talk about these boundaries with your husband
If it’s your husband that’s violating these boundaries, you need to talk about it. But asking him about a specific woman will often backfire. Instead, why not wait until you’re both relaxed and having fun, and then ask if you can talk about general boundaries.
Ask him what he’s comfortable with you doing: does he think it’s okay for you to text other men? To talk on Facebook to other men? To go out to lunch with male coworkers? How should you decide? Make it about you first. Then talk about him. Can he text other women?
Ask if you can regularly use his phone, and tell him he’s always welcome to check your phone. Leave it in a central place, and ask him to do the same.
If he can’t agree, then you have an issue, and you need to speak firmly about that. Affairs often begin over an emotional connection that people have made, and it’s easy to make that emotional connection over technology.
The problem with texting and Facebook is that while they can easily start a relationship, we see them as far less personal than phone calls, so we’re far more likely to do them.
I may never have picked up the phone and called an old boyfriend, for instance, but if he’s up on Facebook, that’s when people find it easy to “chat”. You wouldn’t phone, but you’d chat, and quite honestly, chatting can be worse. We’ll often type things we would never actually say, because it seems as if there’s a technological boundary between us. But there really isn’t. And it’s all too easy to step over that line.
This problem is only going to get worse as we’re all connected constantly, so we have to step in now. Set up boundaries. Make an open policy towards everything you do online or with your phone. Share passwords. Let him know that you WANT to be open with him, and ask him to do the same. And then be smart. Just because you don’t feel something for a guy now, and you have no intention of going down that road, does not mean that it wouldn’t develop if you started talking to him all the time. So don’t take the risk, and keep your eyes on your man!