Q&A: Setting boundaries on Internet useWritten by Mitch Temple
What's inside this article
Question: My wife spends a lot of time on a social networking website. Some of the personal things she shares with people whom she has never met surprise me. Should I be concerned that this could negatively affect our marriage?
The Internet can be a useful tool for couples. It opens doors to helpful information and networking that can be extremely positive for a marriage. On the other hand, social networking can also present some major concerns.
The Internet provides numerous opportunities to "cross the line" and share intimate issues that are best kept between a husband and wife or shared only with a few trusted friends. Discussing inappropriate details about one’s marriage online can make his or her spouse feel violated and less willing to be open and vulnerable. Emotional safety and trust are extremely important in marriage. Once these elements are damaged or broken, it takes a lot of effort and time for a spouse to rebuild them.
Risk of unsafe relationships
The Internet also makes it much easier to carry on long-term discussions and even unsafe relationships with people of the opposite sex. Affairs can begin rather innocently online. A University of Florida study published in Psychology Today in 2003 found that almost a third of the people surveyed eventually had a face-to-face meeting with someone they flirted with online. And all but two of the couples who met went on to have an affair.
Husbands and wives should show extreme caution about which social networking sites they visit and with whom they discuss private issues. They need to be watchful about putting themselves in circumstances that may cause them to be vulnerable to temptation (Matthew 26:41).
Share your concerns
If you’re uncomfortable with the private information that your wife is sharing online, let her know how you feel. Don’t come across as condescending or rude, but discuss what topics and personal details you would be comfortable with her discussing online.
If you are not able to resolve this issue on your own, consider seeking out a marriage counsellor or an older Christian couple who can help you resolve it.
Mitch Temple was the director of Focus on the Family Colorado’s marriage department and a licensed marriage and family therapist at the time of publication.
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