Written by Aaron & April Jacob
We're all guilty of it, spending too much time on Facebook (or any other social media app).
In line at the grocery store? Open up Facebook. Waiting at the Dr's office? Open up Facebook. At home in bed? Open up Facebook.
Why do we spend so much time on Facebook? Especially when the people we love the most are sitting right next to us?
You know what we mean. Remember last night?
There she was. Your beautiful wife, sitting next to you in bed, scrolling through Facebook. You tried to talk to her, but she just nodded with "uh hums..." as you talked. She started to laugh, and you asked what was so funny but she said you wouldn't understand. You wanted to cuddle up, but she was completely oblivious to you and ended up being on Facebook for over an hour and a half. You finally rolled over and went to sleep.
Is that a bad thing, though? Is Facebook bad for your marriage?
We hear different opinions all the time.
So, what does Nurturing Marriage think? Is Facebook bad for your marriage?
Here are five ways Facebook may be bad for your marriage.
1) Taking time away from your spouse.
It's no secret that Facebook can be a great time waster. Sure, it's fun scrolling through endless pages of status updates from people you haven't seen in years Or from people you can't remember how you know! What could be more entertaining than reading about Megan's seven-year-old's loose tooth, looking at what Sean ordered for dinner, or watching "hilarious" cat videos?
Kidding aside, Facebook can become quite addicting and can consume inordinate amounts of your time. Just like the scenario above, you may look at your phone, realize it is midnight, and feel guilt creeping in as you realize you've wasted your entire evening staring at a screen INSTEAD of at your good-looking spouse.
So, before you waste another minute, log out of Facebook and log into your spouse...after you "like" and "share" this article, of course! JK.
2) Keeping track of old "friends."
Obviously, one of the best parts about Facebook is being able to stay connected with friends and family. It's easy to check a notification and instantly know what's going on with your cousin Mike, or anyone else for that matter. No doubt, Facebook is a great way to find out about things you feel like you should have already known about. Say what? Your little brother's engaged?! Some things you should find out about in person before finding out on Facebook. Finally, who doesn't appreciate Facebook's help in remembering everyone's birthday?
READ: IS LOVE REALLY A CHOICE?
Unfortunately, this ability to stalk, we mean, stay "in-the-know" with anyone and everyone also has its downsides.
Have you ever had an urge to check out what your high school sweetheart is doing now? Have you ever wondered what she/he looks like ten or twenty-five years later? All too often, that temptation to just see what he/she is up to is the beginning of a slippery slope.
Let's be honest, people tend to overemphasize their virtues and the good in their life on Facebook. When is the last time you saw someone post a picture of themselves first thing in the morning when they looked like a mess? Or complain about something their spouse did?
Seeing the too-good-to-be-true side of your old "friends," doesn't benefit your marriage. It can feed comparison, jealousy, and even thoughts of "what could have been."
That's certainly not a recipe for a happy and healthy marriage.
3) Reconnecting and developing relationships with old "friends" or other members of the opposite sex
Too many people - male and female - are seeking emotional connection, validation, and understanding from "friends," online rather than from their spouse!
If they're feeling unfulfilled in their marriage, they look elsewhere to have their needs met, rather than turning to the one person who matters most - their spouse.
Unfortunately, seemingly innocent chats online can quickly lead to emotional infidelity and fantasizing, and turn into in-person meetings, dates, and more.
If you find yourself liking, commenting on, messaging, or checking a certain someone's Facebook feed on the regular, please ask yourself this question, "What is my motivation here?" If that motivation has anything to do with physical attraction, emotional involvement, flirting, or getting back at your spouse, etc, then perhaps you should cut ties with that person and put all of that energy into nurturing your marriage.
The fact is, even if your motives are innocent, the ability to message, like, or play games with someone of the opposite sex, can send a message that may easily be misinterpreted and/or damage the relationship you have with your spouse. Be smart.
4. Social comparison.
Ah, the demon of social media, comparison and jealousy**.
Admit it, you've looked longingly at the new car Sam just bought for Emily, or the big house Rachel & Landon just bought, or the fact that Melinda encourages and even helps plan fishing trips for Ryan. Lucky them. Lame you.
Facebook naturally encourages us to compare our lives with others. Oh, they went to Cabo last week? And he bought her flowers?
You two haven't done any of those things. Your marriage must stink. NOT!
Don't fall for the comparison trap.
(**Not always. Facebook also offers real-life glimpses into the hardships and challenges that real people currently face, which can inspire you towards acts of kindness and generosity.)
5. Skewed reality.
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat and every other website and social media app out there aren't necessarily bad in and of themselves. However, they do skew our version of reality, of what is actually real and meaningful and important, and of what real life and real "happily ever afters" look like.
So, just be aware that virtual reality is not ACTUAL reality. Turn off your phone, take your spouse by the hand, dance in the kitchen, and enjoy this moment, in the here and now, your real life, your reality.
READ: TWO QUICK FIXES TO AVOID SLEEPING ON THE COUCH!
Okay, okay, so we hope you recognize that we aren't here to bash Facebook and say how horrible it is, rather we just wanted to take a minute to offer a simple warning about some of the potential hazards that Facebook poses to your marriage.
So, how can you use Facebook (or any other social media app) in a good way, that won't hurt your marriage?
Here are five suggestions you may want to try.
1. Have a purpose.
Are you opening your Facebook app to check a message? To sell something? To plan that meet up with the other room mom? To wish your faraway friend an emoji-filled "Happy Birthday"? Great. Have a purpose. Do what you came to do, and then close your app.
Another good purpose would be to engage with your spouse via Facebook. Send her a message. Write on his wall. Share your appreciation. Find simple ways to intentionally use Facebook as a tool for strengthening and nurturing your marriage.
In the example above about the wife pouring over her Facebook feed in bed, we would suggest to the husband to not roll over and go to sleep, but rather to roll over, send her a Facebook message from his phone that says something like, "Let's kiss," and then roll back over and start kissing her like crazy. Inevitably, she will put her phone down, realize that she was zoned out, and will happily kiss you back.
2. Set boundaries.
You don't have to completely close yourself off to the online world (though there is nothing necessarily wrong with that) and go "off" Facebook for weeks or months at a time, but it never hurts to take a day off here or there.
Perhaps you decide that one day a week you simply take a break from all social media, a social media fast, per se. Just for a reality check, a break, and a chance to enjoy a little fresh air.
Or perhaps you find a way to simply replace some of your Facebook time with other, better apps - you know you've been wanting to learn Spanish, or keep up on current events, or read that book. Do it before spending time on Facebook.
Another idea is to simply give yourself a time allotment for Facebook use. 20 minutes a day is probably realistic. Not 20 minutes six times a day. Decide to spend ten minutes over lunch and ten minutes before bed looking through social media. Be smart about your time. There are much better things to spend your time on.
Finally, another boundary to set would be with whom you "friend" and accept "friend requests," from. Perhaps you decide that you simply aren't going to "friend" that girl you dated for three years in college. Perhaps that is a smart boundary for you. (Or, if you can't stand the thought of not being "friends" with someone, at least choose to "unfollow" them so their posts don't show up in your regular Facebook feed.)
READ: MARRIED LOVE IS WAY BETTER THAN NEW LOVE
3. Post & share meaningful things.
If you are going to have social media be a big part of your life (it is 2017), then decide to post and share meaningful things. Things that actually inspire, encourage, and fill you in deeper ways than surface fluff. You know what we're talking about (although we all love those Tasty food videos!).
4. Don't compare yourself.
Easier said than done, right? We love this article about how gratitude can counteract the negative feelings that come when we spend time on Facebook. Read it. And then be more grateful.
Choose to love your life, imperfect as it is.
Find ways to love yourself, your spouse, your house, and your family - in real life.
Spend time working to develop your skills, talents, and hobbies - in real life.
Continually work at improving yourself and being the best version of you that you can be.
As you work on a better you, you will start to recognize all the good in your life and in the lives of others, and social media comparisons will have less of a negative impact on you and your emotions.
5. Work on connection.
Finally, please work and focus on connection. We feel that connection is the trigger that pulls us all into Facebook and keeps us there.
So, connect wisely - on and off of Facebook.
Connect with people you want to stay close to, but perhaps can't because of physical distance. For example, Aaron lived in Sydney, Australia, for a couple of years and hasn't seen many of the people whom he considers to be his great friends, for over a decade. Facebook has made it easy to reconnect with them and nurture friendships that would otherwise be lost.
Connect with your family members that you don't see on a regular basis. Family ties matter most, and we would encourage you to do all you can to keep your relationships with your family members close and tight-knit.
Connect with your spouse in real life, and make time for date nights, getaways, talk rituals, sex, and flirting.
Connect with friends in real life, friends who lift you, encourage you, and help you focus where it matters most.
Connect with those around you in the grocery store, at the Dr's office, and at the airport. Look up.
Find connection with the people who matter most, and Facebook will take it's rightful place among the priorities of your life.
READ: NINE WAYS YOUR MARRIAGE IS UNKNOWINGLY BEING OVERRUN BY YOUR FRIENDS
So remember, as wonderful as Facebook is, it's not as wonderful as your spouse. Watching out for these dangerous Facebook hazards will help you avoid a lot of contention, heartache, and regret in your marriage, and ensure that Facebook doesn't change your marital status!
Simply put, choose to use Facebook (and other social media apps) in a way that will help you nurture your marriage and your relationships with the people who matter most in your life, and you won't go wrong.
Photo Credit: Jason Corey Photography and Crooze Photography
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1/27/2017 06:46:01 am
THANK YOU for such a spot-on post! As a Chaplain, marriage coach, researcher and author in spirituality and relationships I see it all the time-- good relationships going bad from distractions, comparisons, lack of shared experience and REAL conversation! If you can't put your digital doo-dad down in bed, use your e-reader to take a look at my "Marriage SOS" ebook, with man-friendly, "hands-on" tools to BUILD rather than distract marriages! Dr. J. Richard Lewis- at Smashwords
1/27/2017 09:06:47 pm
Thanks, Dr. Lewis. We appreciate your insights and the resources you shared!
1/27/2017 09:33:56 am
I quit Facebook permanently over a month ago and I can honestly say that I am happier for doing so. Facebook is designed to deliver dopamine hits in the brain so people become dependent on it. I admit I was starting to compare myself with others, their lives, marriage, recreation, possessions, etc, and it caused me to be irritable, critical, and unhappy. Instead of opening a book, reading an informative article, or interacting with others, I would default to scrolling through my Facebook feed and waste time. No longer. I challenge anyone to quit Facebook for at least two weeks and see how you feel. I promise, you won't miss it like you think you will. It basically amounts to a platform for people to brag about themselves and share the infrequent highlights of their lives, which isn't reality.
1/27/2017 09:08:07 pm
Dan-- GREAT insight-- Your mentioning the release of dopamine with Facebook-- Is that from your own observation, or might you have run across some research on that? I'm working on a neuro-theology research project and would LOVE to talk more! Dr. Jim Lewis- firstname.lastname@example.org
1/29/2017 04:59:36 am
Thanks! I learned it from my own research into it and why I was feeling the way I was while using Facebook. As you probably know it's the same mechanism for drug, porn, food, and gambling addictions. Receive a like on your post, get a little feel-good dopamine dump, come back for more and more. Facebook is an alternate reality for a lot users and I don't even think about it anymore.
3/30/2017 03:18:56 pm
Maybe a month to cleanse you psyche of FB. So so many people I see in the morning posting something, scrolling down, wastIng time
2/3/2017 10:52:41 pm
Thank you for this advice- I totally agree with it! My husband and I actually decided to join FB accounts a few years ago, because we felt that it would be a safe guard to our marriage. It has been awesome. Neither of us feels like FB runs our lives! Rather, it's a together thing. I worry that a lot of marriages suffer needlessly largely in thanks to social media. Being up-to-date with technology, if it means putting your marriage at risk, is not worth it. We don't have to deprive ourselves or live in the stone ages, but we definitely need to be smart about how we use social media. Like you said, what are our motivations?
2/19/2017 08:31:28 pm
I have developed an extreme dislike for social media specifically facebook and whattsapp. It is a source of extreme concern in my marriage. To much time spent on it and freinds of the opposite sex, just doesnt go down well with me
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