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Wifey Wednesday: When Texting/Facebook Cross the Line

It's Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you follow up either by commenting or by writing your own post and then linking up!

The joy of Textphoto © 2005 Gideon | more info (via: Wylio)
Today I want to talk about a letter I received from a woman recently. She writes:

I love my husband very much, but one thing that bugs me is that he is always receiving texts from another woman at church. He thinks it's funny, and he keeps texting her back, but the texts don't stop. I think it's inappropriate for a married man to text with another woman, but they both think it's harmless. Help!
So what should this wife do?

At the same time, I recently read an article that quoted a British study which found that Facebook was implicated in one out of every eight divorces. I personally know a few divorces where Facebook played a major role, because someone reconnected with an old flame.

So I thought today we should address the whole technological threat to one's marriage.

Let's start with some basic rules.

1. In marriage, there shouldn't be secrets. That means you should be able to use each other's phones.

If your husband won't let you use his phone, or you hesitate before turning your phone over to him, you have an issue. You should never be texting or talking to someone of the opposite sex in a way that would make your mate upset. Everything should be interchangeable.

I know many of you have friends that you talk to on Facebook who are guys. I'm not saying you can never comment on a guy's status, or "Like" someone's status. I'm just saying that if you're tempted to turn the computer screen away so your husband won't see, you have an issue.

2. Remember that work relationships can easily cross the line

If I can be totally transparent here, the only times in my marriage when I have even been remotely attracted to another man has been in a work situation, when that guy really did not know Keith. Now, those things never went anywhere, and it wasn't as if I had a crush or anything, it's just the only times I ever even noticed that a guy was attractive were in scenarios where my husband didn't know the man, like during my university days.

In a work situation, it's very easy to think of yourself as separate from your husband, because your coworkers don't tend to know him. And that's when these things can creep in.

Now, I haven't been in very many work situations in my marriage, so this really hasn't been an issue for me. But most men are in these work situations all the time, and many women are constantly, too. We need to guard against these things.

So set boundaries where you work, and don't start texting or Facebooking a coworker inappropriately.

I was texting a co-worker (someone I'm often on tour with) recently about a few things, but Keith was right in the car with me, and I was reading it as I texted it. (and laughed and read his reply out loud to Keith, too). I don't think that's a big problem. But texting constantly, when your husband doesn't know, is wrong.

3. Don't chat

Communicating information is one thing (sometimes with coworkers we have to); chatting is an entirey different story. I can't really think of a scenario in which Facebook chat with a man who is not your husband is appropriate. If he needs counseling, for instance, you're not the one to give it to him anyway. If it's an old friend you've just found after twenty years, it's more important to write a long "catch up" letter, with pictures of your kids and husband, etc., then it is to chat.

Chatting really starts a relationship and some intimacy, so don't do it.

4. Talk about these boundaries with your husband

If it's your husband that's violating these boundaries, you need to talk about it. But asking him about a specific woman will often backfire. Instead, why not wait until you're both relaxed and having fun, and then ask if you can talk about general boundaries.

Ask him what he's comfortable with you doing: does he think it's okay for you to text other men? To talk on Facebook to other men? To go out to lunch with male coworkers? How should you decide? Make it about you first. Then talk about him.

Ask if you can regularly use his phone, and tell him he's always welcome to check your phone. Leave it in a central place, and ask him to do the same.

If he can't agree, then you have an issue, and you need to speak firmly about that. Affairs often begin over an emotional connection that people have made, and it's easy to make that emotional connection over technology.

The problem with texting and Facebook is that while they can easily start a relationship, we see them as far less personal than phone calls, so we're far more likely to do them. I may never have picked up the phone and called an old boyfriend, for instance, but if he's up on Facebook, that's when people find it easy to "chat". You wouldn't phone, but you'd chat, and quite honestly, chatting can be worse. We'll often type things we would never actually say, because it seems as if there's a technological boundary between us. But there really isn't. And it's all too easy to step over that line.

This problem is only going to get worse as we're all connected constantly, so we have to step in now. Set up boundaries. Make an open policy towards everything you do online or with your phone. Share passwords. Let him know that you WANT to be open with him, and ask him to do the same. And then be smart. Just because you don't feel something for a guy now, and you have no intention of going down that road, does not mean that it wouldn't develop if you started talking to him all the time. So don't take the risk, and keep your eyes on your man!

Now, what advice do you have for us today? Have you ever had to draw boundaries around what you did with technology? Or do you have something else to tell us? Write your own Wifey Wednesday post that links back to here, and then leave the link of THAT POST in the Mcklinky below. Thanks!

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At 10:19 AM , Blogger Elizabeth Richmond said…

I do chat with men who aren't my husband (usually friends from before I got married, which wasn't that long ago), but I use our joint Skype account that is always logged in on both computers (it doubles as a phone line). As a result, we can both see who the other person is talking to and all of the chats. My husband finds this irritating, but the fact remains that he can always see, at any time, what I've been talking about. He's never complained yet. :)


At 10:38 AM , Blogger Momofkings said…

My mother's marriage has been on the rocks for several years because my stepfather has had an emotional affair with a woman he started texting with from church. She's asked him to stop and he does, for a while, then goes back to texting her or other women. It is frustrating and sad to watch my mother's broken heart time and again.

My husband and I do not usually chat or text with those of the opposite sex (except family) and we do not go out alone for lunch with a member of the opposite sex. We have also made an agreement not to contact or friend our ex's on Facebook.

I used to have a problem with having a crush on someone that would happen quite by accident, so now as soon as I feel attracted to anyone, I tell my husband and I avoid that person at all costs until the feeling passes. That nips it in the bud quickly.

You can't be too careful at protecting your marriage.


At 10:46 AM , Anonymous Heidi said…

Thank you, Sheila... I think this is an important topic for all married people to grapple with. Boundaries are vital for keeping marriage safe (emotionally) and sacred!


At 2:33 PM , Blogger S Club Mama said…

I was listening to a Focus on the Family podcast awhile back and they were talking with a married couple that had come through adultery. The wife had cheated on her husband with a co-worker. More women now than ever before are starting affairs at work (because more women are working now than ever). I think that's an important thing to think about when you work outside of your home...and something to chat with your husband about too - as he's probably around other women too.
As far as the FB thing goes, I agree 100% with what you've written.


At 2:35 PM , Blogger Laura said…

Not able to use the linky from my mobile...heres my link though :)


At 5:48 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

So VERY true. I know since I've just gone through this, although it never ended up in an affair it was/is really hard on our marriage. We are pretty open about our online interactions. I always have to check my husband's email to catch important emails because he doesn't check it (except for once a month) and we both know this (not like I'm checking up on him). Last month I found texts from a woman to my husband (somehow they defaulted to his email), one was a message and the other six were pictures of her.(thankfully clothed but still!!) Since my husband works out of town a lot and works late hours I couldn't contact him until about 9pm that day.. that was probably one of the hardest days of my life! My mind just went crazy with scenario's and I was on the verge of breaking down all day. Thankfully I remained calm when I brought things up, I didn't accuse him of anything but rather asked him to explain things. We had a really long talk that night. (no affair emotional or sexual happened, but a line had been crossed) Things are better now between us as we've gone through the boundary talk again, but it is definately a very hurtful experience. Even though I don't want to be 'that' wife constantly checking on her husband the need is there at times to know and be reassured that what he is telling me is the truth. My trust took a beating and it needs some TLC and thankfully my husband is understanding that I will need to search his phone at times, ask him questions about things in order to get that trust back.

For me, I use the thought of, 'If my husband were standing right here beside me, would I still be doing/saying this?'. Like someone said earlier, we need to be alert and on guard to protect our marriages!!


At 8:24 PM , Blogger Tina Hollenbeck said…

This is a very important topic that I find a lot of people discounting. I went through a situation a year ago where a male friend from church started flirting with me - IRL, not online, but in such a way that no one else but me would have known if I hadn't spoken up. I sure didn't want to get him in trouble - he really is a good friend! - but it freaked me out and I was worried for him and his marriage, too. I got some counsel, told my husband, and then called my pastor...who very appropriately held my friend accountable. What's sad is that our friendship is basically gone - because he's had to set up a boundary of not really talking to me anymore for his own sake (we both know neither is mad at the other, though). I miss him as a friend, but I wouldn't have it any other way if that's what he has to do to maintain his marriage vows. My pastor has told me the man is grateful I spoke up to get him off a slippery slope.


At 10:05 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

My husband and I recently suffered a rather serious blow to our marriage because of technology!

There were several areas where he had crossed the line and quickly started sliding down a slippery slope! He started chatting with a woman he met playing online games through FB. Most of the chatting was innocent, but he definitely crossed the line a few times by making inappropriate comments... things he would never say to someone he knew personally. Because it was online it didn't seem as "real". And he certainly hid the "friendship" and chatting from me! When I found out he immediately defriended the woman and we put tracking software on his computer so I can see every site he's visited, every chat and email.

As part of the reconciliation process, we also discussed his relationship with a widow in church. He's helped this woman with her son and the woman would often text and email him. I was able to explain to him that even though he considers the relationship completely innocent, he may be sending the wrong signal to a single woman. Women often read things into comments and form an emotional bond without the man realizing it! Now he reads me the texts or emails and I help formulate answers that keep the relationship friendly but not too friendly! Since then, her emails and texts have significantly reduced!

As we discussed these issues God did an amazing work in our marriage! We are closer now than ever (celebrating 20+ years of marriage)! We realized that although we would both say we were extremely happy in our marriage, we had both "checked out" and were doing our own thing. As we've been intentional about spending time together and doing things together our love for each other has grown!

Thank you for discussing this important topic!


At 9:55 AM , Blogger SheDan said…

My Fiance and I had a similar boundary issue a few years ago. He didn't understand my concern, but thankfully he loved me enough to change his behavior anyway. Then a few weeks later he did understand. :)

In the middle of the whole thing I dug in to the scriptures and wrote a little piece of on the importance of jealousy in a relationship. I shared it above in the linky (even though it is actually a couple years old, is that ok?). I hope that it might be helpful for some people.

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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