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Would You Give Up Facebook For Your Marriage?

Updated on May 26, 2015

Is Facebook ruining your relationship?

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and all the other social networks out there are very popular. Just about everybody has at least one and most people have several. They keep people connected with friends and family, they connect people with groups and other people who share their interests, they give us a platform to be heard. Petitions are signed, awareness is raised... Social networking sites can do a lot of good but what happens when they become a problem in a relationship?

It's not the network, it's you.

Before we go any farther, let's clarify that social networking sites themselves are not the problem. The problem is either what people are doing on them or their inability to moderate their usage of them. Sure, a healthy relationship should be trusting but when people use social networking websites to flirt or cheat, they are abusing their partner's trust.

Part of the problem is that many people don't see blatant flirting or even "sexting" on Facebook or other sites as wrong, even though they know their partner would be very hurt if they were to find out. This type of rationalization can result in a man or woman who would not cheat "in real life" engaging in very inappropriate or hurtful behavior online because they think it's not that bad. They often say, "It's just Facebook, it's not a big deal!" That may very well be true but if their partner thinks it's hurtful, that should matter. When it doesn't matter, that's when it becomes a problem. Flirting or "sexting" continuously with random strangers or even casual friends on Facebook shouldn't be so important that someone will willingly hurt their partner in order to do it. If it is that important, maybe there are other problems.

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It's not just cheating & inappropriate behavior.

While it is the #1 reason people cite problems with Facebook and other social networks in their marriage, using Facebook to cheat isn't the only problem. Some people put far more time into the social networks they are a part of than their relationship. This is hurtful to their partner. It's one thing for someone to be an active participant in an online community, but it's another when every time their partner looks at them, there is a phone in front of their face. They don't listen or answer when spoken to and they cannot put the phone down for two seconds. This is disrespectful and it's rude, but we see it all the time. Spending too much time on Facebook and other social networks can put a huge strain on a relationship, to the point where one person might feel their partner is routinely ignoring them or has even abandoned them. If someone truly feels they cannot interact with their family or partner sitting in the room with them because what's going on with a website is more important or interesting, there is a very big problem.

There is also the issue where one partner repeatedly trashes, accuses, bad-mouths, lies about and/or insults their partner on social network websites when they are angry. This can be devastating for a relationship; this sort of public dirty-laundry-airing can cause damage to a marriage that cannot be fixed because not only have the person's family and friends seen it, but the entire world has potentially seen it. This is often a humiliation tactic and just as with "Facebook cheating" it is often seen as benign and harmless, or "just blowing off steam." It is none of these things; it's borderline abuse depending on what is said and it can be the final coffin nail for a relationship, because it can create a cycle of two people who do nothing but try to publicly humiliate each other. Don't go there. There's never an excuse for it. It can be tempting to seek comfort or validation from friends on social networks but keep problems between partners and work them out the same way.

All relationships have problems.

Recently there was a meme post making the rounds that asked the question: Would you give up social networking for a healthy relationship? Judging by the over 1 million likes and reading through literally thousands of comments, the response seems to be split between "yes" and no." The people who responded negatively seemed to be almost angry at the idea and the majority of them stated that a healthy relationship should not require you to give up anything. This seems to imply that many people think healthy relationships have no problems, or require no work or sacrifices. That's not reality. There was more than a hint of entitlement in some of the responses as well, with many people answering indignantly, "I shouldn't have to!" Why not? All relationships have problems, all relationships require work and compromise to last, and every relationship requires sacrifice from both partners. No one ought to be forced to do something they don't want to do, but if someone really does not believe they should ever have to sacrifice for a relationship, they don't understand what a relationship is.

Marriage is about compromise.

The response from people to this silly meme gives us a view into the state of marital relations in the world we live in now. Maybe this is why the divorce rate is so high: so many people are just not willing to bend, even regarding something this silly and unimportant. They simply refuse to give up anything they want for the betterment of the marriage. That is a tragic shame. Marriage is about compromise; it's not about everybody getting whatever they want all the time.

Facebook is not important. It should not trump your marriage. If it or other social networking sites are causing a problem in a relationship, it should be gotten rid of. There are situations where a person is very controlling, abusive or pathologically jealous and in those situations, the couple should seek professional help. However, reasonable requests to stop doing something that truly hurts a partner should be honored, and it is not unreasonable or controlling to request their partner stop going on social networking sites if the person's behavior on these sites is causing problems in the marriage. If someone really cannot do that for someone they claim to love, they have problems other than just their relationship.

This is a hot topic. Got an opinion? Let us know!

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