Editor's note: This article was originally published on nurturingmarriage.org. It has been reprinted here, with permission.
Facebook is great. It is something that most of us use almost every day. However, it shouldn't be surprising to hear that Facebook has been mentioned in many a divorce case.
Watch out for these three ways Facebook could be killing your marriage, and make sure that Facebook doesn't change your marital status!
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, if your news feed is anything like mine, from people you can't even remember meeting). What could be more entertaining than reading about Jessie's 7-year-old's loose tooth, looking at what Joe ordered for dinner or watching mind-numbing videos?
Kidding aside, Facebook can become quite addicting and can consume inordinate amounts of time. Before you know it, you've wasted your entire evening staring at a screen instead of your gorgeous spouse. So, before you waste another minute, log off of Facebook and log on to your spouse.
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 status update and instantly know what's going on with your cousin Mike — or anyone else for that matter. No doubt, it's a great way to find out about things you feel you should have already known about (Say what? My little brother's engaged?). And who doesn't appreciate those birthday reminders?
Unfortunately, this ability to stay "in the know" with anyone and everyone also has its downsides. Have you ever had that urge to check out what your high school sweetheart is doing now? Have you ever wondered what he or she looks like 25 years later? All too often, that temptation to just "see what they're up to" is the beginning of a slippery slope.
Let's be honest. People tend to overemphasize their virtues on Facebook. When's the last time you saw someone post a picture of himself first thing in the morning when he looked like a mess? Seeing the too-good-to-be-true side of your old "special friend" doesn't benefit your marriage. It can feed comparison and even lead to 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
One of my favorite things about Facebook is the ability to connect with people from around the world. For example, I lived in Sydney, Australia for a couple of years and have since lost contact with people whom I consider to be great friends. Facebook makes it easy to find and reconnect with them — to build upon friendships that would otherwise be lost.
As great as this ability to reconnect is, it can present a serious danger to your marriage. Too many people — both male and female — are seeking emotional connection, validation and understanding from people online rather than from their spouses. If they're feeling unfulfilled in their marriages, they look elsewhere to have their needs met rather than turning to the people who matter most. Unfortunately, seemingly innocent chats online can quickly lead to emotional infidelity and turn into meetings, dates and more.
Ask yourself this question. "What is my motivation in messaging this person?" If that motivation has anything to do with physical attraction, emotional involvement or getting back at your spouse, then perhaps you should reconsider your use of Facebook. The fact is, even if your motives are innocent, the ability to message and "like" someone of the opposite sex can send a message that may easily be misinterpreted, damaging your relationship with your spouse.
So remember, as wonderful as Facebook is, it's not as wonderful as your spouse. Watching out for these three dangerous trends will help you avoid a lot of contention, heartache and regret.
Aaron & April are the founders of Nurturing Marriage, a website dedicated to strengthening marriages. They enjoy playing football with their two little boys, watching sports, eating cereal late at night, and going out for frozen yogurt.