Do you think it's okay for me to talk about problems in my marriage with a Facebook friend of the opposite sex? The spark has gone out of my relationship with my spouse, and we always seem to be facing some kind of challenge. Sometimes I discuss this with my online friend, and he's always very helpful, sensitive, and understanding in the way he responds. Is this a problem?
It appears to us that you're treading on dangerous ground. A recent survey of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers revealed that Facebook has been a major factor in one out of five U. S. divorces. Because of this, and for a number of related reasons, we think your situation presents real concerns. Your connection with your "online friend" could easily be an affair in the making.
By your own account, your relationship with your husband is already fragile. This is not the time to enter into a dalliance with a member of the opposite sex, no matter how innocent it may seem. Instead of exposing your marriage to even greater threats, you should be taking steps to build a wall around it. For some practical suggestions in this area, we recommend you take a look at Jerry Jenkins's book Hedges: Loving Your Marriage Enough To Protect It. This resource is available through our ministry and can be purchased via Focus on the Family's Online Store .
In the meantime, when you feel frustrated about your marriage, don't go online and air your thoughts and feelings with an "understanding" outsider. Instead, talk toyour spouse. If the spark has gone out of your relationship, maybe it's time to sit down together and see what can be done to remedy the situation. Come up with a plan to fan the flames of romance in your marriage. Set aside a regular date night and start spending more time together. If you have children, get a babysitter and go out to dinner. Write a love letter to your spouse. Buy him a gift. Be creative in the ways you show affection to each other. Dig into your shared history and rediscover what it was that brought you together in the first place. Learn what it means to love unconditionally, even during hard times and dry times. Renew your commitment to stick together through thick and thin.
Perhaps you and your husband have trouble communicating on this level. If so, seek out a trained marriage counselor who can help you work through your issues. If you still need to let someone else know what's going on, you can open your heart to a spiritual mentor, a parent, a sibling, a pastor, or a close friend. But don't make yourself vulnerable with someone for whom you might be tempted to develop romantic feelings. If you do, you're asking for trouble.
Would you like to discuss these recommendations at greater length with a member of our staff? If so, don't hesitate to call and speak with a member of our Counseling Department. Our counselors are available Monday through Friday between 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. Mountain time at 855-771-HELP (4357). The Family Help Center staff member who answers the phone will arrange for a licensed counselor to call you back. One of them will be in touch just as soon as they're able. They can also provide you with a list of licensed Christian marriage and family therapists practicing in your area. We'd be pleased to assist you in any way we can.
Making Marriage Work in a Social Media World (broadcast)
Unfriend Yourself (book)
Covenant Eyes - Provider of Internet accountability and filtering services.
Net Nanny - Internet control software that protects your family from pornography, online predators, and cyberbullies.