A Salt Lake City news report in early 2009 shared some troubling statistics. One in 5 divorces in Great Britain cited Facebook in the contributing factors that led to divorce. In Utah, there has been a corresponding rise in marriage therapists dealing with internet cheating. It has been reported by some members in various stakes that their SP or bishop has instructed married members never to friend a member of the opposite sex or to drop Facebook membership entirely collectively. Are such extreme measures warranted?
Clearly Facebook doesn’t cause infidelity any more than guns kill people, but is it bad for marriage or even worse, a catalyst for divorce to be avoided at all cost?
I checked the lds.org site, and there is no official warning to members to avoid Facebook at all costs, nor is there a specific suggestion that married people not “friend” those of the opposite sex (I’m fairly certain that the word “friend” is not used as a verb anywhere on lds.org, and if it were it would probably mean sending a copy of the children’s magazine to someone). In fact, the church is active in social media (including Facebook and Twitter), using it as both a proselyting tool, and as a method to organize charitable endeavors.
From what I can see, Facebook has made it easier for exes to find one another, and so the one marital danger that exists is that someone will reconnect with an old flame (or an almost flame) which can lead to a rekindling of feelings (or emotional manipulation and bad choices – whatever). And yes, prior to Facebook, it would be difficult for people to find these known individuals; adulterers would presumably have to resort to random hookups with strangers in bars and airports back in the good ol’ days rather than someone from their past. Clearly, a determined adulterer wasn’t likely to be deterred by a little thing like lack of internet social networking. But let’s remember, David & Bathsheba weren’t pen pals. From Facebook to bedroom, there are some intermediate steps and choices being made. There are some Facebook behaviors that might be ill-advised for those who want to stay faithfully married:
- keeping secrets from your spouse
- emotional affairs, building more intimacy with a friend of the opposite sex than you do with your spouse (these seem to lead to physical affairs)
- posting revealing pictures of oneself
- expressing neediness through status updates (making one vulnerable to emotional manipulators). This is the Facebook equivalent to the secular admonishment not to “dial drunk.”
Yet for all its flaws, I can’t help but love Facebook for reconnecting me with old friends, helping me stay in touch with relatives in the most low effort way possible, allowing me to avoid all future high school reunions, providing me with dozens of unsolicited yet universally enthusiastic birthday greetings, and providing me with endless hours of marginal enjoyment through applications like Scramble.
When it comes to Facebook and marriage, what’s your opinion?[poll id=”182″]
Have you friended or been friended by an ex? Has a FB friend ever made you feel uncomfortable or gotten too personal? Do you have concerns with your spouse’s Facebook use? Discuss.