20 Days of Media Safeguards for Your Marriage

There's something on our hearts, which we can no longer ignore. We're facing another new frontier in marriage & family ministry, and, again, we are inadequate to the task. But..."God is the Strength of our hearts and our Portion forever"(read Ps. 73: 23-26)   Soooo....here goes:
This should seem obvious, but we don't often think about it....we don't often  pray about it...we don't often think to include God in what has become an important part of most of our lives, and that's in the area of Social Media.
We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but we must face the FACTS: a growing number of couples who come for help are identifying social media as one of the major factors which are causing distance & distrust in their relationships. Did you know that 1 out of every 5 divorces in the US cite Facebook as a major reason for marriage failures! (see Clemency cite below) AND 80% of divorce lawyers recently reported a spike in the number of cases involving social media!(American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers)

OBVIOUSLY, technology & the internet have opened up some wonderful doors, (like our Rapha website) and more people have opportunities to learn of God & His Truth than ever before because of those doors being opened! But, of course, there's a dark side to technology too, which includes people who cross boundaries or lose control.
So, in keeping with Rapha's God-given mission to help support/strengthen/heal marriages & families, we want to encourage couples to safeguard their marriages by keeping God & His Word at the center of marital life. (Ephe. 5:3-5) 
For 20 days, we sent a BRIEF Safeguard by email and posted to this site to help keep marriages safe in the world of social media. Please pray with us that anyone who needs to hear these words WILL hear...and will commit with God to make changes pronto!

These are the 20 Safeguards we sent through March, 2015:

Safeguard Day #1:

All online activity needs to be discussed with your spouse. What is appropriate and what is not? What boundaries will you put in place to protect your relationship? Be sure to include your online activity at your workplaces. Commit to work together on this. Then re-evaluate at given times. (ie: every 6 months)
(This needs to be discussed pre-martially, as well)
Safeguard Day #2:
Share all your passwords with your spouse, so you can go on each other's social media sites.
Safeguard Day #3: 
KEEP  NO  SECRETS  FROM  YOUR  SPOUSE!  Keep no hidden accounts! If secrets are kept from your spouse, it's a red flag that the relationship is in trouble. Secrets are a sign of deception.

LIMIT  TIME  given to technology! Many spouses become jealous or experience loneliness when their partner spends more time interacting with others online than they do with their own spouse. This includes texting; Instagram; blogging; Facebook; YouTube;gaming;Twitter; etc. etc. Turn phones off or put on silent when on a date with your mate & at dinner time! AGREE  TOGETHER  TO GO "UNPLUGGED"  for a 24 hour time period each week...together! You will NOT die!...and it may be delightfully surprising to find how much more time you have to connect with your spouse...your children...AND with GOD!

Let your spouse know who contacts you. Have a guideline for friend requests. Agree together to say "NO" to any "ex" from your past. This type of accountability will help protect your marriage.
Remember Ephesians. 5: 3-5.

Safeguard  # 6:
Words must be chosen wisely! People often babble on social media, without much thought...forgetting what they say is public. IT  DOES  NOT  GO  AWAY! (even after deleting it!!)
(Remember James 3)

Safeguard #7:
Deactivate Facebook accounts when they cause relationship tension. If one spouse is struggling with temptation, not managing time well, or spending more time with other people, (even extended family members) than his/her spouse, GET  RID  OF  THE  SOURCE  OF  TEMPTATION!

Safeguard #8:
Don't fall into the Comparison Trap! Do not measure your spouse against some fantasy person online or start comparing posts from friends to your spouse. This builds negativity & a critical spirit and will lead to problems in your marriage. Be alert to such thoughts going through your mind...that's a slippery slope!
Phil. 4:8

Safeguard #9:
Be sure to NEVER speak negatively about your spouse online! If you have had an argument or conflict, go to your spouse, in person, to work it out. Do NOT announce it to the cyberworld! If you notice someone else criticizing their spouse online, it's wise to not join into that conversation or make comment, which could just fan destructive flames in THAT relationship.
Eph. 4:29

Safeguard #10: 
Re-read your communications carefully before you send them. Make sure your messages are clear, so that they cannot be misinterpreted. Remember that it's human nature to perceive a message, based on one's own needs. When it's a text-only comment, some folks will imagine feelings that were not intended by the sender. This can easily snowball into trouble! 

Safeguard #11:
It's not wise to become an "online counselor", especially with someone of the opposite sex. Do NOT enter into confidences about marital problems online. Even if a hurting person is innocently looking for support, he or she is vulnerable to the attentions of a good listener. What can seem so innocent and supportive often opens communications which are very threatening to a marriage. BEWARE!

Safeguard #12:
If it seems that someone is flirting with you online or through any mode of social media...or if someone is making inappropriate comments...or is harassing you in any way, immediately use the "unfriend" or "unfollow" option. Don't think twice about it! AND do tell your spouse! ( remember Safeguard #3 - NO  SECRETS!)

Safeguard #13:
AVOID private messaging and chatting. Judge your online communication by asking yourself how your spouse would respond if he/she saw the post, chat, picture or email. Remember that emotional affairs begin with platonic friendships that have become secret and intimate.

Safeguard #14:
Be the same person online that you are when face-to-face. It can become habitually easier to engage in fantasy in the cyberworld. Things are often said that would never have been communicated in person!

Safeguard #15:
(We predict that many might minimize this Safeguard as "just common sense". However, sadly, the following is a growing problem in marriages and needs to be addressed):
Sexual intimacy is a private matter between spouses and should NOT be addressed in public forums, like social media sites. This includes comments that are seemingly complimentary to a spouse. Doing so lessens the marital intimacy needed for a couple to stay protected from the outside world. Share these comments only with your spouse. This also builds TRUST & emotional safety.

Safeguard #16:
Watch the frequency of interactions with someone of the opposite sex. Think of it like this:  if you went to lunch with that person every day and talked about your life, would a growing attraction emerge? Yes, in all probability! Understand that constant online conversation with someone can create the same results! 

Safeguard #17:
Be sure to work on your marriage off-line. A growing number of people  network with others, (but not their spouse) regarding arguments/conflicts/ or other marital problems, via social media. Generally, however, this just creates more problems. Social Media will not automatically fix anything!
"Cyber communications will not bring sizzle to a fizzled marriage in appropriate ways." (Linda Mantle, PH.D & Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist - "Christian Counseling Today. Vol. 19. No. 3. P. 22)

Safeguard #18:
If you reconnect with someone (of the opposite sex) from your past who suggests that you meet in person, JUST  SAY  "NO"! If there is a group meeting arranged through social media with friends you knew before you were married, be sure to keep your mate informed, and TOGETHER decide if it's wise to attend. If you decide to go, be sure your spouse plans to go along. Otherwise, don't go.

Safeguard #19:
Be aware that "Digital Addictions" are rapidly increasing in number! Honestly evaluate how much control you've given over to the internet and social media. Are you neglecting your marriage...your children...your job...your finances..or God?? Are you relying on cyber-relationships, obsessively & excessively? Assess your level of addiction by taking 1 day a week to unplug from digital life and re-enter un-wired life. Connect face-to-face with your spouse. Begin "de-toxing"! Spend time with God.......He WILL help you re-claim what social media has stolen from your real life!

Safeguard #20:
Celebrate. Your. Marriage. Often!  Be intentional about spending time, in person, with just your mate every day! And do write positive and encouraging messages to your spouse, but just for their eyes only...taking time to use a pen & paper, which is more personal & intimate than sitting at the keyboard to jot a note. Sounds simple, right?


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