Is technology creating a rift in your marriage?

While technology and social media have been great at helping us connect with those far away from us, sadly, they often distance us from those that are closest. There’s no denying that technology is an integral part of our lives, but sometimes not setting appropriate boundaries and priorities can damage relationships.

It’s very rare that I see a couple for therapy without social media or the use of smartphones being brought up as a vital issue. In fact, one of the most common ways that a spouse’s infidelity is discovered these days, is via instant messaging. While many couples blame social media for the breakdown in their marriages, it is important to understand that platforms such a Facebook cannot be blamed – but it’s rather one’s misuse of such platforms that can create a problem.

I often hear defensive responses such as ‘I’ll just delete my Facebook account then’. Remember, infidelity existed even before the advent of social media, and may well continue beyond its existence (should such a time ever come). If anything, it’s provided another avenue or made it easier to meet people or look up old flames. An increasing number of couples present to therapy, blaming social media for their marital distress. It rarely ever is the sole reason for marital breakdown. Often, there are existing problems in the marriage and such media may have made it easier to stray from the marriage. Whether couples choose to use social media or not, is a personal choice which should ideally be made taking into account the advantages and disadvantages.

The problem arises when one partner does it secretly from the other.

So, how can you ensure that social media doesn’t get in the way of your marriage? The key is responsible use and openness. There can be no trust in a relationship without transparency. Many who have fallen prey to infidelity in the past, tend to believe that to be classified as ‘cheating’, an extramarital relationship must have involved physical contact. Many people have emotional affairs and these can be as damaging, if not more, than physical relationships. If there’s something you hide from your partner, such as deleting text messages or having friendships they do not know about, then it’s important to question your reasons for hiding this from your partner. It’s important to keep the best interest of your marriage at heart at all times.

One of the paradoxes of the electronic age is that even though it’s made it easier to keep in touch with others, it may actually draw us further away from those most important. How often have you seen a couple at a restaurant, and, instead of spending quality time with each other, are both occupied on their respective smartphones? Many now spend more time communicating with others they rarely see, instead of focusing on, and enhancing their existing relationships. Increased time on social networking sites means we know more about the lives of our online contacts that what’s going on in our own homes.

Tips for responsible social media use:

  • Spend more time interacting with your spouse and children than on social media.
  • Switch of wifi/data at certain times. This will ensure greater peace of mind as there’s no urgency to respond to every message.
  • Set family rules regarding technology; e.g. no phones at the dinner table, no technology for one hour before bedtime, etc.
  • Try a technology ban that’s suitable for your home/relationship – e.g. no phones to be used in the bedroom.
  • If you have a password, let your partner have it as well, so there’s no room for doubt and mistrust.
  • Keep WhatsApp Groups to a minimum and base them on necessity.
  • Decide on specific times for checking and responding to messages, instead of every time your phone beeps.
  • Spend more time doing non-technology-related activities.
  • Do not check your phone as soon as you wake up.
  • Your behaviour should not send the message to your partner that your phone is more important than them.
  • Do not take your phone into the bathroom.
  • Do not communicate with people on socilal media that your spouse does not approve of.
  • Intimate details of your relationship do not belong on social media.

While many claim that social media helps them escape their everyday routines, the more responsible solution would be to work on the issues that bring you unhappiness in the first place.

What’s most important is to make your marriage your number one priority and remember that trust is the most important ingredient in a happy marriage!

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