Monday, June 21, 2010

Marriage Mondays ~ Facebook & Faithfulness

"There is nothing new under the sun." (Eccl. 1:9) But social networking sites like Facebook leave us feeling like this is completely new territory. In the June 2010 issue of the P31 Woman magazine, you can find my article "Pretty Face, Ugly Face," addressing challenges social networking poses in the life of a Christian woman. More specifically, sites such as Facebook stir up questions (even conflicts) in marriage. MUCH more could be said, but for today's Marriage Monday, "How can we be faithful while on Facebook?"

Since we have "everything we need for life and godliness," (2 Pt. 1:3) even this new territory should look different in the life of a Christian, in contrast to someone who jumps into the online world without the values of God's Word. Scripture has a lot to say about our speech, our attitudes, how we treat one another, and our reputation to the world, so YES, God's Word addresses Facebook. Facebook IS impacting marriages today all around the world. About 70% of users in 2010 are outside the US, so the influence truly is global. Men and women have found opportunity to reconnect with, and sometimes rekindle, old flames via Facebook, while others have just followed up on curiosity to see "who's out there". In 2009 the fastest growing group of users was women over age 35.


This past Memorial Day weekend Jeff and I enjoyed a reunion of "Vacation Families" from my childhood; we hadn't seen each other in 20 years or introduced spouses/kids/life changes. Facebook made it possible, and it was truly sweet! However, as I work with women and couples, I hear repeated testimonies of the potential social networking has to stir up discontentment, sow seeds of doubt, and even create fertile ground for conflict and affairs. Does this sound familiar?


To be FAITHFUL while on FACEBOOK, it helps to have some non-negotiables in place to SPOT potential hazards:


S ... Sharing - Sharing passwords (Some couples even share the same FB page) & info is essential for trust and accountability. Loss of trust and accountability is a toxic by-product of many FB habits.

P ... Priorities - A husband and wife need to know what their priorities are in their individual tasks and life together. It helps to write these down and be specific BEFORE one of you feels the need to confront the other about falling into the trap of time wasting. We set our spouse up for frustration (husband AND wife) if we come home to undone tasks or blank stares, but we discover (or hear about) creative status changes or Farmville ;) activity taking place during what we thought was work time.

O ... Openness - Couples who struggle most with online networking don't work at being open with their involvement. This takes time and consistency. This isn't "policing," but it's involvement in each other's lives. This is easy for me ... my hubby only gets on FB once every 3 months or so. ;) Openness includes freedom to communicate about what is discussed online ... after all, these are conversations, and they are public. If a woman is making flirtatious comments on your husband's wall and, to add to concern, never showing her "face" on yours, YOU NEED TO TALK.

T ... Togetherness - Being married means you are one flesh, even on Facebook. You should come to decisions about a degree of privacy in settings, photos, comment content, and even acceptance of friends together. I wouldn't accept the friendship of a man known to both my husband and me, unless my hubby is friends with him, too, and then only in certain cases.


Never before have we had a visual "page" where we declare who our friends are. It's creating confusion, ladies! Whew! It's creating pressure and conflict. Remember this: Your marriage is more important than your friend page or your status. Even on Facebook, we need to guard and protect our marriages and our reputations and that of our Lord and our husband. What we put "out there" is "OUT THERE" for the world to see; over 400 million users are active on Facebook now. Wow! Let's let our conversations be full of light ~ Matt. 5:16. It seems so "innocent," so "harmless," but Satan is notorious for taking such things and creating cracks in which to inject poison; it's the "little foxes that ruin the vineyards" (Song of Sol. 2:15).


Finally, if you need a quick "SOS Scripture" for decision making, go to Phil. 4:8 for God's guidelines on how to think. And if you're struggling with online involvement or an online friendship, ask yourself these questions in terms of your marriage:

Does it help or hurt our marriage relationship?
Does it help or hurt our reputation or that of my husband or myself, individually? (which impacts you together)

After you pray over and reflect on the true answers to those questions, feel the freedom to set yourself free from anything that hinders your relationship with God or your husband ... even if that means Facebook. "Deleting" is not the unpardonable sin ;) And if this post was helpful to you, post a link to it on Facebook! ;) I promise you that you are not alone.


I'm praying as you read this online today. Let's take the online resources of 2010 and use them like only God's gals can. I'd love to hear if you have specific questions or examples we could address. Blessings,

If you'd like to link up to Marriage Mondays, I'd love to have you click the Mcklinky below.

19 COMMENTS ~ Click here to leave a COMMENT:

marlece said...

first time reading your blog, enjoyed it much. I agree with the whole facebook or just internet connecting period. It can be all such a good thing or bad. It is within our control of how we conduct ourselves....have a good day! Happy Monday...

Traci Michele said...

A very honest, practical, relevant post! Thanks so much! I'm going to share this on Facebook.

Do you have an account?

Hugs,
Traci

Sherry @ Lamp Unto My Feet said...

What a great post! I had an ex boy friend that wanted to be friends and at first I thought it would be ok, but then after thinking about it I realized it wasn't as I wouldn't want my husband to do the same. So i deleted. :D THank you so much! I'm sharing, too. Traci posted on Facebook and had to come read. :D

Sheri said...

You know what? We don't do social networking such as Facebook, we have seen far too many problems come from it. I think your post is a great reminder.

Kristi Stephens said...

Great comments, Julie!! I've also seen FB really promote a complaining spirit and gossip... not good! So true that we need to make sure our words are honoring and uplifting to God, to our husbands, and to anyone who reads them!

Tracey said...

Don't know that I've read a post on this topic - but yours is certainly timely and much needed! I'll be sharing it everywhere I can!

Julie@comehaveapeace said...

So glad to hear it. Social networking seems so new that we just sort of let is "slip in" under our radar, without considering how it comes under the umbrella of God's truth.

Teri Lynne Underwood said...

I've observed a general lack of respect on social media ... we "spout off" instead of measuring our words. I wonder, often, how someone would respond to their child speaking in the same manner as they so quickly type. I agree with Kristi too about the complaining nature of Facebook ... I'm quick to "hide" those who are always complaining.

As for our marriage - we have each other's passwords and don't do direct messages with members of the opposite sex without including one another. Sometimes it's tricky because of Scott's job as a pastor - female church members or even other friends will DM him with a private matter. But we've determined that as quickly as possible he will meet the person face-to-face or encourage her to contact me or allow me to be a part of the dialog on FB.

Julie@comehaveapeace said...

Great ideas, Teri Lynne. I'm afraid our "quick fingers" often get us into trouble. That "slow to speak" principle applies when hitting "send," too.

Your mention of ministry contacts/work contacts is an important one. That is a topic for a whole discussion of its own ...

So glad you shared.

Shay said...

Such a good post! Being online has never been an issue for us personally but this was a good reminder for me to think about things before I do them. I am sometimes too quick to respond and I could do with pausing for a bit and thinking things over before posting! Thanks Julie! :)

Melanie said...

Hi Julie - First, I absolutely thought this post was spot - on. It's a topic I've been wanting to address, as well. You've given me some great things to think about. I LOVE how your focus is always on what's best for our relationship with Christ and what's best for our marriage relationship.

While I think there is nothing wrong with facebook, I have chosen right now not to be on it. I just know that for many different reasons it's just not something i need in my life.

On another note - I can't get your email to work, so could you email me at chitwoodmelanie@yahoo.com.

blessings!

Kela said...

Wonderful post! My husband and I sit side by side when we're on our computers. We have full access to each other's accounts.
One other thing I'd like to mention, I feel that it's already in the heart of one to want to reconnect with people they shouldn't be OR airing dirty laundry. FB just makes it easier.
It's a matter of how we use any tool.
A few months ago I found this post:
http://treymorgan.net/10-facebook-rules-for-married-couples/

Be blessed and I'll be back up with Marriage Monday next week!

Julie@comehaveapeace said...

Kela, thanks for that great link! Trey was right on in his perspective from the "male side" of the aisle. ;) Thanks for sharing and see you back at MM soon. I hope your Fathers Day was really sweet.

Melanie, thanks for letting me know ... I'll go the other route. :)

mom-2-4 said...

Just found your blog and I have really enjoyed your posts.
I can't agree with you enough about this whole facebook thing. I had a facebook account for about a year, but just recently deactivated it because first of all it was a big time-waster for me, and also because my husband didn't really like the idea of the whole thing. So I decided my marriage was way more important to me than facebook. I have absolutely no regrets about deactivating it!
Thanks for the post,
Julianne :)

Danie Marie said...

Wonderful article, Julie! I play FV, but try to post encouraging, God uplifting posts. ;) As a writer, I play FB for some down time, but I'm realizing that it can suck quality time as well and know I have to be careful.

Melanie said...

I'm linking this to my FB page.

Samantha said...

Great post! My hubby & I have Facebook accounts. But, we also have each others passwords. We can get on each others Facebook at any time. This works great as an accountability tool for us. Also for accountability for internet usage, we use a Christian internet filter called Safe Eyes - http://www.internetsafety.com. It's awesome!

Michelle said...

My hubby and I must be one of the few couples who don't have a Facebook account!

Even on my blog, I am very careful about not encouraging men to join my site! (It's my personal blog and it was created for the purpose of blessing and connecting with other Christian ladies!)

I know it sounds archaic, but being above reproach is so important to me, especially as a pastor's wife. Since there is no way of knowing for sure who is honorable and who is not, I would prefer to ere on the side of caution! Know what I mean?

Heidi Pocketbook said...

This is a very thought provoking article, Julie. Remembering back to life without internet (circa 1998!), I was leary that we should even sign up for free dial-up internet since I knew of at least four couples whose marriages broke up after one or both spouses saw "greener pastures" in chat rooms. It seemed anything I had heard about the internet seemed way on the dark side.

Our main reason for justifying internet service at that time was getting much needed info about our dd's allergies and health issues. I learned that the internet could be a real blessing. I also discovered christian home schooling websites and bulletin boards that were a blessing as well. It just grew from there!

It is interesting that I just read this tonight, as I was having a conversation earlier this evening with my bil and his wife (he rarely gets on FB, his wife doesn't have a FB account)about FB and how it is so much fun to reconnect with people--when we were out this evening, they witnessed first hand when I ran into one of my bff's from my teenage years who I wouldn't have recognized had it not been for FB. As I also mentioned to my wonderful bil and sil, sometimes it's just plain interesting to sit back and "see the scenery" on FB--wondering why people post statuses or pictures or comments that they do.

Just like your dh, mine rarely gets on FB. Neither of us are into the FB games or apps. We don't have the same FB friends, however we do readily share what is going on with our friends as if we don't personally know each other's friends, we know of them. I'm also trying to model safe and positive behavior for dd, and periodically take her through my FB friends and tell her the connections of people she doesn't know . She doesn't have a FB yet.

Excellent post once again, Julie!