Saturday, February 5, 2011

Facebook Leads to Divorce?

This past week, we received our quarterly edition of Leadership Journal and found a really amusing blurb four pages in. The title read: Pastor Blames Facebook for Divorces. I immediately let out a laugh and called Melissa over to read the article.

It talked about a pastor in New Jersey who has banned (yes, banned!) Facebook in his church. He has ordered 50 of the church's leaders (who are married) to delete their Facebook accounts or resign. He has also challenged church members to delete their accounts as well. The article goes on to explain that this pastor's issue wasn't Farmville or wasted time, but instead adultery. The pastor defended his stance by saying that he has counseled 20 couples from his church who have all had marital problems surface because one spouse reconnected with an old flame via Facebook.

On top of that, the Journal adds that "according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 81% of its members have either used or been faced with evidence from social networking sites in divorce cases in the last five years."

So, should all married couples refrain from using Facebook? Here are a few thoughts on the subject:

1) First, it is clear that Facebook and other social networking sites have become a means of communication and connection for affairs to blossem. It creates opportunities to re-connect with old flames and new people to flirt with.

However, to make a blanket statement that all married couples should delete their Facebook accounts is really ridiculous. It's important to note that the 20 couples the New Jersey pastor has counseled make up about 3-4% of his entire congregation. Thus, this is another case of an extreme decision based on a vast minority. This would be like saying that 50 years ago, any married man in the business world shouldn't have a secretary or a stay-at-home mom shouldn't hire a pool boy. Just because Facebook can be used for evil by some people doesn't mean that everyone will use it the same way...like the other  96% of this pastor's church.

2) This all being said, we do have to ask the question of "Does Facebook cause affairs in some cases?" There is that 4% and the glaring statistic from divorce lawyers. So, does it?

In my opinion, I would say no. In His Need, Her Needs: Building An Affair-Proof Marriage, Willard Harley talks about the 10 greatest needs of men and women and gives advice on how each spouse can meet them. He also bluntly explains that when these needs begin to be unmeet, that is when the door of an affair begins to be opened. Naturally, a person will begin to seek elsewhere to be listened to, affirmed, romanced, embraced or more. What might start as something innocent, eventually grows as this new person begins to fill more and more of the needs that should be being filled by their spouse.

When this is the case, what is the cause of an affair? Is it the other person, the fact that you work with someone of the opposite gender or because you found one another on Facebook? None of the above. Those things all are simply a vehicle for something bigger going on. The cause is in fact a lack of needs being met accompanied by a lack of communication, understanding and clear expectations. Facebook or not, when this is the case for someone in a marriage, they are going to try to find a way to have their needs met. Canceling your Facebook isn't going to prevent this.

3) So, where do we go with this?

Here are a couple of final thoughts to think about and talk with your significant other about:
  • Think through the "friends" you have on Facebook. Is there anyone that you have as a friend that provides a temptation for you? Maybe this is emotional fulfillment in chatting or exchanging messages or maybe this is someone you find attractive as you regularly scan their photos. Consider de-friending them or blocking them. It simply isn't worth it...
  • Are you friends with past flames on Facebook? Is your spouse ok with that? As you ask this question, try to really listen to your spouse's feelings and don't just be defensive. Be honest with yourself about why you may not want to de-friend that person.
  • If you find yourself reaching out to someone other than your spouse to fill a certain need in your relationship, I want to challenge you to take immediate action and cease the communication. Then, take the time to try and communicate to your spouse what you are feeling and thinking. It's important that this is done in a non-threatening and accusatory way. If you feel like you have tried that before, I would strongly encourage you to seek out a pastor or counselor to see as a couple, or if your spouse is unwilling, on your own. 
-Jake

6 comments:

  1. I can see (slightly) where the pastor was coming from. My father recently divorced my mother because he caught up with an old girlfriend on facebook. This is not to say that the pastor's extreme steps were appropriate, because they weren't. This is to say that there are definitely dangers to social networking while married.
    Thank you for your advice, and addressing this touchy issue.

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  2. I see where the pastor was coming from as well. Not sure why you were laughing Jake. Holiness or not; is it worth the risk to the marriage? How many times does something pop up in your news feed and it's a picture and somebody else with a picture in their profile comments on it. A few clicks later and you've fed on the pictures of a few cute girls. It's too easy.

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  3. Sure, FB can be a catalyst. It has the power to both unite and untie bonds-it all depends on how people react and use it. Getting Las Vegas divorce lawyers can make separation a bit easier.

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  4. A couple must understand each other and must act accordingly. Facebook can be a catalyst indeed but one should understand that it's just virtual. An individual should not be jealous about the people who comment on a certain post you have or something to that effect. Sometimes, people are fond of sending malicious messages that if another party reads it, it gives a negative notion that the other partner is unfaithful which may lead to quarrels and even divorce. So, an individual knows his/her partner well. Do not believe on any post being divulged on the wall of your partner. Talk to each other and save your marriage.

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  5. It still depends on the couple. The couple knows each other best. So, it is not a good point to base the divorce on Facebook alone unless the act of unfaithfulness is being done on that social networking site.

    ReplyDelete
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