Do you use Facebook?
There’s a new survey out this week suggesting that the popular social networking site is a major factor in 1 out of 5 U.S. divorces.
Are you surprised?
Before going any further, let’s be clear:
Facebook doesn’t cause divorce – people do.
Over the years, the evolution of technology has always facilitated marital infidelity, at least for those so inclined. When the telephone was first invented, people were suddenly able to talk instantly with another person in a different locale. A spouse who was lonely could now find a willing and potentially seductive soul within seconds. And once they hung up, there would be no trace of the call or conversation.
Radio did a great job of connecting and entertaining, too, but fictitious dramas and soap operas planted seeds of discontent in some. A struggling housewife was left wondering why the (scripted) husband on the radio show sounded so suave and debonair – while her man came home grumbling and mumbling about the boss in the backroom. Ditto for movies and television, which can portray perfection, not reality.
The popularization of the automobile also made it easier for illicit lovers to rendezvous outside the shadow of home. When email became common, divorce lawyers began seeing scads of electronic evidence of spousal infidelity. After all, unless one has a post office box or is having an affair with the mail carrier, it’s a little hard to secretly exchange “love notes.”
One of the terrific qualities of Mark Zuckerberg’s invention is its ability to help us connect with the past and with it, our long lost friends. What fun it is to see that old class picture from second grade or catch up with classmates and teammates from decades ago. It’s also simplified communication. I no longer have to keep track of addresses and phone numbers. I just need to remember names – and all in one spot, no less!
Yet, like any good thing, it doesn’t take much to corrupt it. Isn’t that just the nature of a fallen world?
Our counseling department here at Focus sees the sad reality of these national trends. We get calls from people who cite Facebook and other social media – from Twitter to texting – as things their cheating spouses are engaged in. It would be easy to blame the technology, but as I’ve pointed out, through the years the sin is the same, it’s just that it’s being committed with the latest technological advance.
There are numerous contributing factors to infidelity. But I think we can spot two common themes of those who find themselves entangled in cheating via Facebook.
First, those who “cheat” via Facebook tend to be more in love with the past than they are with the person from the past. Most of the divorces we hear about stem from rekindled high school romances. These people are second guessers – wondering what if. In other words, to quote the poet, “For of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: ‘It might have been!'”
Second, Facebook-driven infidelity easily lends itself to the great lie that rests at the heart of most discontent, mainly that what I don’t have is surely better than what I do.
· Keep No Secrets: Maintaining mutual accessibility to Facebook and email accounts is a good idea.
· Talk: If you’re “friended” by an old flame, don’t be embarrassed to talk about it. After all, you can’t help who sends you a friend request – but you can control what you do with it.
· Have Fun: Use Facebook to help your spouse learn about your past. Don’t be afraid of something that happened 20 years ago. By letting your wife or husband in on a story or old friendship, you’ll be giving them an opportunity to learn more about you – and maybe why you are the way you are.
Many years ago the bestselling author, Jerry Jenkins, penned a great book titled Hedges, urging couples to maintain marital guardrails. There was no such thing as Facebook when Mr. Jenkins first put pen to paper, but the principles are timeless. In fact, in the subtitle of the work he asked a question that echoes down through the years. He asked it of his readers – and I ask it of you:
Do you love your marriage enough to protect it?