I’m furious. I caught my husband flirting with a friend on Facebook. He says it was innocent but I beg to differ. When I point out how wrong it was, he gets even more defensive. The tougher I get the more he defends his actions. I’m not sure what more I can do. Help.
Your concerns are the concerns of many others. It is so very easy these days to become overly friendly on our phones, tablets, laptops and computers, and with friendliness often comes problems.
We are all so connected these days, and with that connection comes certain dangers. Facebook, and other social media sites, offer us countless ways of connecting to each other. And none of us want to experience FOMO—(fear of missing out)—and so are tempted to stay very connected. We hop onto our favorite social media site, email and textbook with regularity.
However, there are dangers many don’t realize when they are quick to chat online. Some experts believe the number of affairs have increased with the advent of social media. Some divorce attorneys have noticed an increase in divorces as a direct result of social media. Without a doubt many couples are experiencing the kinds of tensions you talk about because of online contacts.
What makes social media so alluring for overly friendly behavior and outright infidelity? Here are a few thoughts:
- Easy friendliness. You can be as friendly as you’d like without repercussions. You can be less inhibited than you might otherwise be.
- Different Persona. You can “try on” different aspects of your personality.
- Anonymity. Since you don’t have to reveal much about yourself, or even reveal the truth, you can present whatever you want to present to others.
- Easy Access. With “smart phones,” tablets and laptops, we can Facebook others anytime and nearly anywhere.
- Emotional “Hit.” Our brains like all the attention we get and give to others. We can easily become addicted to the emotional connections and flirtatious behavior.
Many hardly notice the slippery slope of friendliness that leads to failure, or if they do notice, they make “seemingly unimportant decisions” that leads to further trouble.
Scripture says it like this: “When lust has conceived, it brings for sin; and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death.”
There are several other aspects of concern to your question. You note that he is flirting and when you confront him he becomes defensive. Certainly this is not what you would hope for from him. Whether it was “innocent” or not, you feel threatened—and that is issue enough. Our mate offers a perspective to our blind spots that we would do well to listen to. His defensiveness is a very concerning sign.
What to do if your mate responds defensively regarding healthy online boundaries? I have these suggestions:
Approach him/ her from your feelings. Share your feelings, not judgments. For example state, “I’m feeling threatened by your time on Facebook and wonder if you’d be willing to only be on that site when I’m around. I’d also be most comfortable if I knew the people you are talking to.” Don’t make statements such as “You shouldn’t be……… or I can’t believe you’re ……..” These kinds of statements are never going to land well.
Be very clear about your feelings and what you expect. Refuse to argue about the issue. State your feelings, asking him to empathize with them. State exactly what you would like him to do, again refusing to be drawn into an argument about it.
Talk about the problem when both of your emotions are stable. Refuse to fight about this problem. Arguing about the issue will never bring about resolution. Rather, choose a time to talk when both of you are relatively calm, clear and willing to collaborate.
Ask for cooperation regarding online protocol and boundaries. In a non-heated moment, discuss your expectations of each other when it comes to online behavior. Agree to the amount of time you will spend Facebooking, how you will handle relationships with the opposite sex, and other expectations. Make your boundaries very explicit.
Maintain a healthy connection to each other. Our best insurance policy for maintaining faithfulness in our marriage is keeping our marriage vital. Take care not to neglect your marriage in any way, leaving a vulnerability to an online affair.
In summary, online relationships are going to happen. Maintaining healthy boundaries around them is each of our responsibilities. Participating in online relationships comes with significant risks—know them, respect them and proceed with caution.