Social media and marriage: 10 ways to be positive in your postsWritten by Greg Smalley
What's inside this article
Have you ever thought about how social media portrays marriage? Take a moment to reflect on any jokes or memes you’ve noticed lately. Maybe you’ve seen some of these:
- Marriage is a sacred institution. Everyone who does it ends up with their own padded room eventually.
- Marriage is worse than prison. There is no parole for good behaviour.
- I love being married. It’s so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.
If you mix social media and marriage, you end up with a negative picture of married life. A lifelong commitment is portrayed as something to be endured or tolerated. Don’t take my word for it: Search “marriage jokes” online and you’ll find many more negative viewpoints.
You’re probably thinking, Lighten up, Smalley. They’re just jokes. Well, perhaps I’ve lost my sense of humour, but for a good reason.
Marriage is under attack
Over the last 50 years, our society has increasingly devalued the institution of marriage. Here are some of the impacts of underrating marriage:
- People are routinely questioning if a traditional marriage between a man and woman is even necessary.
- Young adults are delaying marriage to focus on job security and personal wealth.
- Many millennials, who grew up with divorced parents, are afraid to marry and doubt that lifelong commitment is possible. This fear has driven high cohabitation rates, since couples believe that two people living together in a committed, loving relationship is a better option than marriage.
Social media and the attack on marriage
Social media is just one of the places where marriage is attacked, and harmful jokes and memes are only a small part of the assault. You’ll also find plenty of people talking about unhappy marriages.
Social media feeds also tend to include people sharing about popular television shows and movies that ultimately attack marriage as an institution and devalue its importance to individuals, families and society. Many of these favourite series and films portray couples as casually having sex or living together rather than getting married. These actions are shown as our culture’s “normal” first relational steps, with a marriage commitment slated as a “maybe someday” discussion. And, in contrast to happily unmarried couples, spouses are often portrayed as dissatisfied and uninterested in each other. They long for the freedom of their single days.
If you Google “how social media destroys relationships,” you’ll find millions of results. According to a U.K. law firm’s 2015 study1, about a third of the more than 200 divorce cases examined cited Facebook. And the Institute for Family Studies reported2, “One large study3 in the U.K. found that one-in-seven people mulled divorce due to their spouse’s activity on social media platforms like Skype, Snapchat, or Twitter. Another found that nearly one-fifth of couples fought daily about social media use.”
Honour marriage on social media
But did you know that you can start to change some of this by how you interact on social media? It’s true. The mix of social media and marriage doesn’t have to be negative. If you’re purposeful, you can use social media to honour marriage and promote positive messages about it.
I’m convinced that healthy marriages must be a top priority if our culture is going to thrive. I’m certain the traditional institution of marriage is not only a cornerstone of God’s plan and design for the world, but I also believe Hebrews 13:4, which says, “Let marriage be held in honour among all.” Therefore, I’m tirelessly working to see marriage restored to its rightful place of honour!
Before we can honour marriage and use social media as one way to do it, we have to understand what it means to honour marriage. To honour something means to value it highly or appreciate, cherish and recognize it as a priceless treasure. When we honour marriage, we do these two things consistently:
We care about our marriages
We honour something by caring for it. If our culture is going to honour marriage, people must see great examples. Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best: “What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.” The culture is watching what we do with our marriages. We must make sure that we appreciate and cherish them. The goal isn’t a “perfect” marriage. The goal is a healthy marriage, where the individuals continue to grow as they journey together for life.
We promote the idea of healthy, lifelong marriages
Even though in general our culture attacks marriage, we can resist negative characterizations and instead promote healthy, lifelong marriages. One effective way to promote marriage is through social media. When we post or share positive messages about marriage, they can affect our immediate family, friends and possibly a greater audience. Through social media, we can encourage people we don’t even know with positive messages about marriage.
Practical ways to promote marriage on social media
How can you get started? Consider these ideas for honouring and promoting healthy, lifelong marriages on social media.
1. Remind others of your lifelong commitment
Let people see your love and affection for your spouse by sharing photos and stories about your marriage. Dale Partridge’s heartfelt post4 about the amazing journey of being married to one woman for life went viral:
Men are so worried that marriage will leave them with “only one woman” for the rest of their lives. That’s simply not true. I fell in love with a 19-year-old rock climber, married a 20-year-old animal lover, started a family with a 24-year-old mother, then built a farm with a 25-year-old homemaker, and today I’m married to a 27-year-old woman of wisdom. If your mind is healthy, you’ll never get tired of “one woman.” You’ll actually become overwhelmed with how many beautiful versions of her you get to marry over the years. Don’t say no to marriage, say yes and keep saying yes until the day you die.
This is just one example of how social media and marriage can be a positive combination!
2. Be transparent about your marriage struggles
There’s power in reading how someone persevered through their problems and grew from a difficult season in their marriage. In a blog post5 that exploded on social media, Seth Adam Smith wrote with raw honesty about his marriage struggles:
For many months, my heart had been hardening with a mixture of fear and resentment. Then, after the pressure had built up to where neither of us could stand it, emotions erupted. I was callous. I was selfish. . . . This awful realization brought me to tears.
Smith then revealed his wife’s response to his selfishness:
But instead of matching my selfishness, Kim did something beyond wonderful – she showed an outpouring of love. Laying aside all of the pain and anguish I had caused her, she lovingly took me in her arms and soothed my soul.
Smith concluded that his problem is that he forgot his father’s sage advice: “Marriage isn’t for you. You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy.” By sharing his painful truth of becoming selfish in his marriage, Smith conveyed this profound message: “I want you to know that marriage isn’t for you. No true relationship of love is for you. Love is about the person you love.”
3. Take advantage of special occasions to celebrate marriage
On birthdays, Valentine’s Day, your anniversary and Mother’s or Father’s Day, celebrate your spouse publicly.
First, celebrate marriage by showing how much you and your spouse enjoy each other. If you have a party or go out to dinner, post photos. People need to see couples having fun together. The posts can also be a powerful reminder of how you treasure your spouse on a special occasion. Matthew 6:21 reminds us, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
You can also celebrate your loved ones’ and friends’ anniversaries – especially the milestone years of 10, 25 and 50. I love to read about couples who’ve been married for more than 50 years and the advice they offer. I recently saw a story about a couple celebrating their 80th wedding anniversary. That’s amazing! According to the Huffington Post6, their advice on staying married is this: “We always resolved the arguments. We would talk the problems out, I think that is the key. You need to communicate and talk to each other. I don’t think enough people talk to each other these days.”
4. Share your favourite marriage tip or book
My favourite tip is from Theodore Roosevelt. He said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Yours might be something a family member or mentor shared with you. Or perhaps it’s a tip you read in a marriage book, an article or a small-group study. Share the tip, the book or the study and tell others how it’s helped you and your spouse have a healthy marriage.
5. Post your favourite Bible verse
Has a Scripture encouraged you? Share it in your feed. One of my favourite passages is Ephesians 4:1-3, when Paul urges us to walk “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
6. Share your favourite marriage quote
I love this quote from Simone Signoret: “Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads, which sew people together through the years.” What a great reminder that the millions of daily connections that we make with our spouse keep us together and continue to strengthen our bond throughout the years.
7. Spread the word
Retweet, repin or share social media posts, articles and videos promoting strong marriages and lifelong commitment. I recently read an honest Facebook post7 by Whitney Fleming that’s worth sharing. She wrote:
Sometimes I want to give up on the stability, the memories, the relationship built on 22 years. Sometimes I want to leave the man who gets frustrated too easily or often doesn’t see the world the way I do. . . . Sometimes I crave a simpler life, one without conflict or obligation or concessions. Because sometimes marriage is just hard, too hard to see it through to the end.
Whitney was echoing the Apostle Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 7:28, “Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles.” But Whitney ended her honest post with such an encouraging message. She said:
Sometimes I want to give up on this, but not today. Because although I’m in the season of marriage that is difficult and exhausting and hard, in these pictures and in this life, there is always a new reason to fall in love with this man all over again. So, in those times when I want to give up on this, I am reminded that for our marriage “joy cometh in the morning,” as it always does. As I hope it always will.
Keep an eye out for encouraging posts, articles and videos such as this one. When you see one, share it to bless others. You can also link to marriage ministries, including FocusOnTheFamily.ca.
8. Evangelize the case for marriage
In our culture, young people need to hear why marriage matters from those in happy, healthy marriages. Talk about the benefits of marriage and how these apply to you personally. We specifically need wives to speak up. “In a culture that devalues marriage and frames it as constraining to women,” an article from the Institute for Family Studies says2, “social media can be a good way for happy wives to set the record straight.”
9. Share accurate facts about marriage
In Shaunti Feldhahn’s book, The Good News About Marriage, she wrote, “Divorce isn’t the greatest threat to marriage. Discouragement is.” So to encourage couples, she refuted five myths that most people believe are true about marriage. One of these myths includes the 50 per cent U.S. divorce rate. Shaunti noted that “the actual divorce rate has never been close to 50 percent. It’s significantly lower and has been declining over the last thirty years.” Couples need to know this and other truths about marriage, because the lies regularly affect couples in a negative way. Let’s spread the truth by sharing accurate facts on social media!
10. Offer support when friends are struggling in their marriage
You may not know if an online friend is struggling in his or her marriage. But you can post about how marriage counselling can help with challenges and difficult seasons. Share how you were helped in your marriage and encourage others to call Focus on the Family Canada at 1.800.661.9800 if they could use some help, too. They can geta free one-time consultation with a registered counsellor who will listen and provide initial guidance and resources, including prayer.
Share how good marriage is today
This week, take some time to promote healthy, lifelong marriage on social media. As you do, you’ll remind others (and maybe yourself as well) just how good marriage is and why it matters. Join me in helping to restore marriage to its rightful place of honour!
Dr. Greg Smalley is vice president of Marriage and Family Formation at Focus on the Family and the author or co-author of several books, including Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage.
1 Samantha Yule, “Facebook now crops up in a third of divorce cases over cheating and old flames,” The Mirror (UK), January 20, 2015.
2 Ashley McGuire, “Using the power of social media to promote marriage,” Institute for Family Studies, November 9, 2017.
3 Brittany Wong, “Stay off social media (or risk divorce), new survey says,” Huffington Post, April 30, 2015.
4 Dale Partridge, Today Facebook post, November 11, 2016.
5 Seth Adam Smith, “Marriage isn’t for you,” Seth Adam Smith, November 11, 2013.
6 “After 80 years of marriage, this couple have the best love advice,” Huffington Post, February 1, 2021.
7 Whitney Fleming Writes, Facebook post, November 5, 2017.
© 2022 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. Used with permission. Originally published at focusonthefamily.com.
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