It is undeniable that social media has immeasurable benefits in our modern society, however keeping up with an active social media presence can have devastating effects on your romantic relationships, especially marriage. Social media provides us with the ability to connect with people in our social networks and maintain relationships with distant friends that would otherwise fade away (remember your elementary school pen pal?). Even the most innocent of actions, like posting a new photo or a status update, can have a lasting impact on your relationship with your significant other. Social media and online networks are a large part of today’s constantly connected cultural milieu, and play a significant role in the way we interact with one another. It is also a primary means by which we gather information and share ideas; but like any tool, social media can be harmful if it is misused. Keep these tips in mind if you want to keep your social media presence from harming or potentially ending your romantic relationships.
Love, trust, communication, and respect. Those are key elements that the foundation a good romantic relationship is built on. Don’t let yourself fall into the ever present social media trap of putting your spouse on blast when they do something that irks you. Everyone makes mistakes, and yes, some are worse than others, but that is not an excuse to put your partner down in front of a virtual audience of Facebook friends or Twitter followers. No matter what the circumstances surrounding the issue may be, resist the urge to turn to social media to air out your dirty laundry. It’s far too easy for people to turn to social media when they want to feel like they are not alone in their dissatisfaction, but venting in the heat of the moment can have lasting consequences. It is not worth posting something you can’t take back just to feel like someone else is on your side when you have a disagreement with your significant other. Remember—deleting a post from your timeline or twitter feed does not delete the memory in the minds of the people who saw it before you realized it was a bad idea.
2. Adopt a “Cool Down” Period
A “cool down” period is a mutually agreed upon time frame in which a couple can take a step back to reflect on the disagreement at hand before acting on their thoughts and feelings. Social media provides an easily accessible outlet to quickly and impulsively vent about your interpersonal problems, but just because you can vent online, doesn’t mean you should. Rallying others on your side and publicly shaming your partner is one of the most damaging things you can do in a relationship (even if you are still naïve enough to think after-the-fact damage control deleting does the trick). A good rule of thumb is to stay off of social media altogether when you are angry with your spouse. This will prevent any emotionally driven posts from making their way to your social network, which only serves to make matters worse when your relationship has already hit a speed bump. Reserve your opinion about the problem(s) you are facing in your relationship for you and your spouse…and maybe a relationship counselor.
3. Update Your Partner Before Your Social Network
Take a moment to harken back to the days before the innovation of social media, when the only people who were constantly updated on your status were the few who were closest to you; not hundreds or thousands of acquaintances you stay connected to online. When your significant other has to find out about something that takes place in your life by way of a social media update that is shared with everyone else in your network, it can make them feel like you have grouped them into the same category as the acquaintances you rarely see. Making your spouse priority one when you have an update to share will show that you put them first, and that they hold a special place in your heart that the rest of your network does not. Adopt this strategy of making your spouse the first person to hear news you have to share, good or bad, and watch your relationship improve. It may not seem like a big deal to you, but it’s the small things like that which make relationships last.
4. Privacy Please!
Social media has all but obliterated the idea of privacy, especially in romantic relationships. Certain things should still remain sacred in your relationship, which is why you and your spouse should agree on what is off limits when it comes to social sharing. Things like the intimate details of your relationship, screen shots of messages, videos or photos of your spouse should be kept offline (sleeping photos aren’t flattering for anyone, no matter how funny they may be). Respect your relationship and your partner by keeping some things offline and private. Ask yourself this question: at the end of the day, is sharing the intimate details of your relationship with your entire social network really bringing anything positive into your relationship? Chances are the answer is going to be a solid no 99.9% of the time.
5. Establish a United Front
You don’t have to agree with your spouse on every issue, but you shouldn’t be actively rooting against them either, especially in front of the members of your social network. If you and your spouse disagree on politics or a topic that one of you happens to be particularly passionate about, be mindful of posting comments or links to websites or articles that actively go against those specific topics. This does not mean you are forbidden to talk about these issues, but if you do, try to keep it positive or at the very least objective. If you disagree with the viewpoints or ideals of your partner, keep it between the two of you and don’t announce it online.
6. What Would Your Spouse Think?
Always consider how your spouse would feel if they saw everything you did online. Scary thought, right? Be a considerate partner, and think twice before publicly commenting. Consider how your spouse would feel if they saw that you liked an ex’s bathroom mirror duck-face “selfie”. Also, you might want to re-think having friends in your network that also double as skeletons in your closet. Regardless of how confident and secure your spouse is in your relationship and themselves, no one wants to see their significant other’s previous romantic partners interacting with them online. Social media can act as a catalyst for break-ups if used carelessly. According to a popular website that offers detailed divorce statistics, over 20% of divorce filings in 2011 contained the word “Facebook”. While Facebook may not be the core reason for divorces, it does provide an all too easy way for partners to act out in a manner that can easily lead to the dissolution of their marriage.
7. Insist That Family and Friends Respect Your Partner
Respecting your spouse on social media not only applies to you, but your social network connections as well. If you find that you have a friend or family member that has strong negative opinions of your spouse or disapproves of your relationship, be clear with them about setting boundaries and enforce these boundaries if they cross the line. Hopefully those in your social network respect both your relationship and your spouse, but if they don’t, you may need to be clear with them that disrespect simply will not be tolerated. It may be a simple statement like, “Mom, I know you like to look at our Facebook pages to see what we are up to, but I would really appreciate it if you could make those comments to me in private.” Tell them to filter their thoughts before sharing them online, and if they continue to ignore your requests and passively disrespect your spouse from behind a keyboard, remove them from your network. It may seem harsh, but cutting off a Facebook friend and restricting your communication with them to the telephone or face-to-face is a much better option than allowing them to disrupt your relationship and cause unnecessary drama between you and your partner.
8. The Classic ‘Overshare’
It may be your personality to share everything you do with the rest of your network, but if your spouse doesn’t share that same desire to be an open book, don’t include them in your habit of oversharing. The ‘overshare’ on social media is so easy to do because access to social media accounts is conveniently available for those of us who have a smart phone within reach at all times. That is not to say you should avoid sharing anything regarding your spouse, however. It is easy to quickly post about the cute thing your wife just said or the awesome DIY project your husband just finished, and that can have a positive impact on your relationship and make your spouse feel appreciated. You just need to know what is ok to share and what is off limits. You should not share everything, and you especially shouldn’t divulge the most intimate details of your marriage to your social network.
9. Were You Talking to Me?
It has become so common for couples to spend more time connecting with their social networks than connecting with each other. Are you the couple that sits on the couch next to each other while your eyes are glued to your phone, tablet or laptop? You may feel like you’re spending quality time with your partner because you are physically close to them, but are you making a real connection? Instead of ignoring one another and exploring the lives of everyone else online, make the effort to inject some romance into your marriage and plan a special outing for just the two of you, completely void of social media. A fun night out on the town with your significant other is definitely a story worth sharing.
If you are not familiar with the term, ‘Vague-booking’ is internet vernacular for those all too common, Facebook posts that leave readers questioning exactly what they meant. “Of course this happened to me” or “Here we go again” are examples of vague-booking. You might think it’s cute or poetic to toss out these undecipherable one liners, but posting a message that is subject to interpretation by those who see it can be a dangerous game when you are in a committed relationship. If your spouse sees one of your vague-booking posts and interprets it the wrong way, it could lead to a serious misunderstanding that results in an argument. Make the message of your social media posts clear to avoid misinterpretation by your significant other – you aren’t coming off as deep as you think you are and you are opening the door for unnecessary relationship problems.
Relationships aren’t easy and it takes a lot of work to keep both parties happy. There are enough obstacles that get in the way of a peaceful marriage (hello, in-laws!) so why add social media to the list of challenges you and your spouse will have to face together? If you and your spouse are social media junkies, you may want to keep these tips in mind. If you don’t, instead of checking your Facebook profile every five minutes, you may find yourself checking your Match.com profile instead.
Author Bio: Brandon Honeycutt is a writer and public relations associate for Brooks Cutter Law Firm, a Sacramento based personal injury law firm. Brandon moonlights as a freelance journalist, news junkie, and social media zealot.
Image Credit: Federico Ravassard – https://www.flickr.com/photos/federicoravassard/8552043273