If you’ve been married for more than a couple of days you’ve probably already figured out that communication in marriage is really important. Being intentional about the way you communicate with your spouse sets a firm foundation for a solid relationship. The same rules apply when it comes to using Facebook once you’re married. Facebook is all about communication and both what you communicate on Facebook and how you say it will have an effect on your relationship. Here are eight ways to make your Facebook conversations something that builds your marriage up.
1. Set your relationship status to married and keep it that way. Facebook’s version of the wedding band, your relationship status makes all the difference in how people interact with you. If you do happen to go through some marital troubles, don’t change to “it’s complicated” because you’ll only make things even more complicated…in a bad way.
2. Share your username and password with one another. Transparency is crucial to ensure trust in a committed relationship. Exchanging login information provides accountability and emotional security for both of you.
3. Create boundaries to protect yourself, your spouse and your marriage. Spend some time talking about what’s in bounds and out of bounds and as a couple. A little bit of agreement on what is and is not acceptable can save a lot of pain and disagreement later.
A great boundary to start with is to agree not to have private chats with members of the opposite sex. Emotional affairs have three main ingredients: secrecy, chemistry and intimacy. Chatting provides a perfect environment for the three ingredients to mix together and create a situation that supposedly “just happened”. Avoid the drama and turn off the Chat feature altogether.
4. Be prepared to talk offline about online issues. What happens on Facebook doesn’t stay on Facebook. Facebook can and will trigger issues and conversations between you and your spouse. Deal with hurt feelings or concerns in the privacy of your own home. If handling conflict is difficult for you and your spouse, attend a Marriage Education class to acquire a shared set of communication/conflict resolution skills.
5. Update each other on your Facebook friends and friend requests. Many of your Facebook friends have a story attached to them. Don’t assume your spouse knows how you know them; spend time sharing their story with your mate. Don’t friend exes, old flames, past flings, former crushes or anyone you’ve been intimate with in the past. What starts as an innocent, “I wonder whatever happened to so-and-so” can lead to “I never meant for this to happen.”
6. Pay attention to how much time you spend on Facebook. Everyone needs a little down time to unwind each day. Facebook can be a great way to wind down. On average, users spend 12-15 minutes a day on Facebook. That seems like a healthy dose of daily Facebook intake. If time on the online social community infringes on your marriage relationship, make changes to reprioritize your time. Set a timer for 15 minutes and then log off Facebook and turn off the computer.
7. Make your spouse the topic of your status updates at least once a week. Using Facebook to affirm and build up your spouse creates a deeper bond between the two of you, and a higher fence around the two of you. (Just be careful not to overdo and become an annoying couple.) Speak well of your spouse. Think about how your comments will be read by others (think about your mother-in-law, your boss, your pastor) before pushing the share/comment button.
8. Remember that Facebook is a public place. Never report that you or your spouse is out of town. What you may think is a harmless status update is an announcement to the bad guys that your home, possessions and family are vulnerable and a prime target for bad things to happen.
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