The Internet and social media are posing new threats to marriages of today. Unfortunately, these married men or women are blind to the dangers when they engage in online flirtations or emotional conversations with friends, co-workers, or strangers. Many think that just because they are not doing anything physical, then it is not considered cheating.
The ease and the privacy of communicating over mobile phones have led to a threat that has never been as great as now. The temptation to cheat has been there for centuries, but nowadays, technology has removed a lot of the barriers to doing it.
In my work, I study how patients communicate, both verbally and nonverbally, with persons other than their spouses. It may be a colleague, an ex-partner, or any other acquaintance. I examine both online and offline (face-to-face) interaction, specifically to identify those that can be considered inappropriate. They may also seek to destroy how an otherwise stable or successful marriage.
A recurring observation I have made in my studies is that many who send text messages to someone other than their spouse feel safe with this type of interaction. They have a false sense of security that leads them to reveal more of their own feelings, thoughts, and other personal information to someone of the opposite sex. This happens because of the following reasons.
First, many married people do not give the same weight when they text with someone outside of their relationship, in comparison to having physical relations with someone. Just because the words and the communication only happen on a screen, then it will not have the same consequence and destroy a marriage. However, this is an illusion, a false belief that a relationship that happens online has no effect on the real world.
Second, just like many cheaters do, these people justify their actions. This means because they feel like they are not receiving what they expect from their partners, then sending seductive messages with a co-worker fulfills this dissatisfaction. Sometimes, even if people are not unhappy with their lives, they still think the grass is greener on the other side. This is a danger of social media, that people believe the pictures and words they see online and desire a life that they only experience online.
Lastly, because texting even people of the opposite sex is so widespread nowadays, many people think that they can also conform without taking any risks.
Unfortunately, because married people do not watch out and control how they interact with online friends, many marriages are being destroyed. This is proven by a look at divorce case papers in the country. In these documents, more than 75% of cases have the words “Facebook” and “opposite sex”.
The scary thing is, most of these interactions start with quite normal, day-to-day chats in the beginning. From talking about daily activities and about families, this shifts very quickly to talks about marital problems and issues with spouses. Once they start opening up emotionally, they start expressing all the things that they are unhappy about with their partners. Sometimes, these issues are of the sexual kind, talking about unfulfilled fantasies and fetishes.
At some point, the person will express a desire to leave their spouses, which inevitably leads to divorce. Most of the time, it is this individual that starts to be emotionally indifferent from the relationship and their partner due to this new “connection” they make with someone else. Because of these new feelings, they “lose” their love for their spouse.
The good news is, couples can avoid falling victim to the temptations of social media by following some simple steps.
- Have Some Clear Guidelines
Every spouse deserves the right to privacy, and no one wants to check every text message to be sure that no one is cheating. But a good first step is to opt for calls instead of texts. This means, then someone writes you, call back and opt for verbal conversations that are not as private and discreet as text messaging. To protect you from the temptations that plague marriages daily, do not get used to contacting someone over text.
- Lessen the Risk
Adding or following people you are attracted to or were once partners with opens up potential pitfalls that might spell doom for your marriage. The best thing to do is to simply lessen the risk or the temptation. Once you feel that you are in an appropriate relationship, choose to unfriend or unfollow them. Though you might hurt their feelings, the feelings of your spouse and even children are more important than how these other people will feel. Even if you feel that you are able to control yourself, it is always a better idea to just avoid taking a risk in the first place.
Choose your marriage by safeguarding your social media habits and instead, discuss how you and your spouse should communicate with people of the other sex. Social media changes constantly, so be updated and careful as to how these new features might bring new temptations.
Instead, use this time and energy to building your relationship with your spouse. To be safe online, you can also combine your account with your spouse’s, so that there is no risk of sneaking around and chatting with someone online.
- Protect Your Heart
Even without chatting with someone, you could already be detaching yourself emotionally from your spouse. Checking out social media profiles that meet your desires or fetishes is very dangerous, as you might find yourself pulling away from your marriage. To be safe, just consider unfollowing these profiles.
In order to safeguard yourself and your relationship from temptation and from inappropriate contact with members of the opposite sex, it is important to be honest about the pitfalls of social media. Do not get carried away by this false sense of security and take steps to actually protect you. Use the time with your spouse instead of messaging some stranger on the other side of the country or continent. This way, you can make your marriage even stronger and longer-lasting.
Contact Dr. Zebel today!