With the advent of social networking has come a new level of connectivity not previously experienced. It seems anywhere we turn is an opportunity to reach out and connect with someone.
We are available! We can be contacted by anyone, nearly at anytime. We are never far from someone who wants to reach us. While this certainly has its benefits, it also brings dangers we’ve never experienced before. While instant messaging, emailing and texting may make us feel connected, bringing an addictive zing to our brains, it also brings with it some incredible dangers.
Most are oblivious to these dangers, even denying that they exist. (Another symptom of DENIAL: “Don’t Even Notice I Am Lying to myself”.) In spite of the fact that we all know someone who has succumbed to an online flirtatious experience, people keep dabbling with danger. No matter how much trouble occurs, we continue to be dazzled by the latest, greatest gadget that brings us closer and closer to one another.
Every day I receive an email like the one I received from a 40-year-old woman recently.
I just caught my husband texting his high school sweetheart. He says she reached out to him on Facebook and that it is perfectly innocent. I’m enraged that he would talk to her, sharing provocatively with each other, and then having the audacity to tell me it’s innocent. What is he thinking? What is she thinking? This is not the first time this has happened, making me all the more jealous. He has sent emails to other female colleagues, and always gets mad at me for “checking up on him.” I don’t trust him. He doesn’t seem to care about my feelings, and all this makes me want to scream. Am I being overly jealous, or do I have the right to insist he get rid of his accounts? He won’t do it voluntarily, without a fight. Please help.
I have written about this topic before, and this woman’s email illustrates a problem that has reached epidemic proportions. Every day people are tempted by someone reaching out to them, showing attention that many crave. Not recognizing their vulnerability, they “click” their way to danger.
Consider what must be done in these kinds of situations.
1. While social network relationships can be innocent, we must be aware of the dangers.
There is nothing innocent about what this man is doing. Either he is in complete denial about his wrongdoing or he knows he is in trouble and uses anger and blame-shifting to keep the spotlight off of him. If you are going to engage in social networking, beware of and admit to the dangers that exist. Admit to the excitement and even addiction that these friendships can create.
2. Notice the patterns.
In this case, the woman notes that she has caught him before. I wonder what has stopped her from setting a boundary previously? When something is intolerable, you must set a boundary—with consequences—making a particular behavior intolerable. When there are definite consequences to wrong behavior, it often times ceases.
3. Confront poor boundaries and questionable judgment.
We can often predict an affair by looking critically at the behavior that occurred prior to the affair. Affairs, including affairs of the heart, occur in a context. As with this man, an affair begins with a small friendship, becoming excessive friendliness, leading to ongoing familiarity leading to failure.
Scripture is clear about the progressive nature of sin. The Apostle James says, “but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” (James 1:14-15)
4. Build a hedge protection around your marriage.
Do whatever needs to be done to create safety in your marriage. Set firm boundaries, leaving no chance for moral failure. Eliminate familiar friendships with members of the opposite sex. Maintain complete transparency, asking your mate to keep an eye on anything that would make them uncomfortable. If anything alarms your mate, don’t do it.
5. Maintain a healthy marriage.
Keeping your marriage vital and dynamic is one of the surest protections against creating unhealthy friendships with the opposite sex. If there are problems in your marriage, get good marriage counseling. Keep your marriage strong and vibrant.
Share your feedback or send a confidential note to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and read more about The Marriage Recovery Center on my website www.marriagerecoverycenter.com and yourrelationshipdoctor.com. You’ll find videos and podcasts on saving a troubled marriage, codependency and affair-proofing your marriage.