Last year I wrote a series of posts on how social media can get the best of us and how it can affect our marriages. I now want to discuss another aspect of social media that can affect our marriages.
THINK ABOUT YOUR SOCIAL CONNECTIONS
I didn’t think there was a problem having tons of friends when I first started facebook back in high school. It was neat to be able to connect, but then I realized how it can make me feel envious or inadequate when I spend a lot of time on it and am involved in other people’s lives so much. So I’ve done many “friend sweeps” over the years to make sure who I’m sharing things with are actually friends and people who I care to stay in contact with. I also didn’t think there was a problem with being friends with the opposite sex. 90% of the time I don’t think there is a problem or anything to worry about. However, when someone you dated once starts messaging you uncomfortably, you start to rethink that. I don’t want to get into that unfortunate situation, but I do want to say that Trevor and I handled it well. It did lead into a conversation about who we are friends with on social media though, which is now something I think every couple needs to talk about.
Every couple has to decide how they handle uncomfortable situations that might come up with the opposite sex, but I thought I would share a few options I thought of for preventing these situations from happening in the first place.
1. The “friend-sweep.” You can delete the connections on your social media of people you think could potentially cause issues with your marriage (exes). If you feel it needs to come to it, delete any people of the opposite sex outside of family and close friends. Even if it doesn’t bother you, it can give your spouse a piece of mind. Trevor has done this kind of friend-sweep and he not only feels more comfortable, but it helps him waste less time not having his newsfeed filled with updates from so many people.
2. Let your spouse in on the conversation. If someone private messages you of the opposite sex, you can always copy your spouse to the reply message. Some of you might think that reaching out to certain people might be harmless, but what seems harmless to you might make the person you are reaching out to feel uncomfortable. If you are the one receiving the private message, it’s OK to err on the safer idea of adding your spouse to the conversation or reply message.
3. Think first. Consider the person you are sending a private message to, and ask yourself if what you want to say would be uncomfortable for them or not. AGAIN: what seems harmless to you might make the other person feel uncomfortable. If my husband’s friends are wanting to know his t-shirt size for a gift, or I’m planning a surprise party with them, I am totally comfortable with that. But talking about memory lane with someone you once dated might be something to think twice about, even if you have no feelings for them.
4. Combine social media accounts with your spouse. People make jokes about couples who do this saying they are “whipped," or they don’t trust each other, or that it was established because someone is prone to cheating. Why can’t couples have joint social media accounts simply because they want to keep their relationship and family safe? What if it has nothing to do with the couple, but could have everything to do with other people. We don’t know what uncomfortable situations we might be put in, like I was put in. It’s just like how I worry about driving in the snow – I trust my own driving abilities but don’t trust the other drivers on the road at all! (FYI: This actually goes against a lot of the user policies for many social media platforms, even though I don’t see people getting in trouble for it. But just letting you know!)
5. Establish open communication. I’ve decided that “when in doubt, tell the spouse!” Haha I would rather have my husband feel like I wasn’t keeping secrets from him. It’s OK to copy your spouse onto the reply message or bring them into the conversation somehow. And other times I don’t need to tell Trevor, like with the surprise gift! Sometimes I will even err on the safe side though anyways and say, “Hey so-and-so texted me today for some help with your christmas gift."
6. Make a plan with your spouse. Have a conversation on this subject with your spouse (if you haven’t already) about how each of you would prefer a certain situation to be handled if it were to arise. This is definitely a preventative conversation that I feel is better to have beforehand rather than after a situation comes up and causes stress. Each of you could ask each other, “How would you want me to handle the situation if ____ happens?”
Some of you may think: “These ideas are too strict. There’s no need to make this a big deal, I trust my spouse. They would never do anything.” I felt the same way! I still feel the same way. However, I will say this again: you can trust yourself or your spouse all you want but you don’t know what other’s intentions are. AND even if your spouse wouldn’t do anything, it’s still incredibly awkward and uncomfortable having that situation come up and having to tell you about it! In my studies my eyes were opened to how one conversation about catching up can quickly become more conversations and lead to an emotional connection. This type of communication can lead to a dangerous path, so wouldn’t it be best to put safeguards up now and not be in a position for something to happen?
IT’S ALL ABOUT your spouse
I want to emphasize how important I feel it is to think about your spouse’s feelings when it comes to the relationships we have with the opposite sex. Obviously we are going to encounter the opposite sex on a daily basis in almost anywhere we go. But the things to be careful of are the places we spend the most time at: in classes, and in our jobs, and in our neighborhoods. I think it’s always a good thing to ask yourself: “Would my spouse be OK with this?” then ask “Would their spouse be OK with this?”
After talking with my husband and thinking about it, I decided it was best for me to do a guy friend sweep on my social media accounts. It wasn’t a problem for me despite how much I tend to care about people, because if it helps my marriage have a piece of mind, then that is far more important than virtual friendships. Some things just don’t matter that much, ya know? This quote below is encouraging to me on this subject:
“Determine that there will never be anything that will come between you that will disrupt your marriage. Make it work. Resolve to make it work. There is far too much of divorce, wherein hearts are broken and sometimes lives are destroyed.
Be fiercely loyal one to another.”
-Gordon B. Hinckley
I love that phrasing “fiercely loyal!” When you put your spouse above everything and everyone and even what they might think, that is what “fiercely loyal” means in my eyes. If being fiercely loyal means having a joint facebook account to some couples, then that is great! We may not agree with the boundaries couples have established when it comes to communicating with the opposite sex. But that’s for each individual marriage to decide, not the peanut gallery. Figure out what being “fiercely loyal” means to your marriage and just do your best to abide by it.