When Weinergate Hits Home

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When Weinergate Hits Home


Think Before You TweetHow to Keep the Social Network from Hanging Your Marriage Out to Dry

Hopefully, America can soon get a well-needed bath and move on to less tawdry and surly issues than the one it’s been forced to focus on lately in the misadventures of Congressmen Anthony Weiner. Depending on your political leanings, this has either been a time of distancing yourself from one of your own or trumpeting a lot of “I told you so’s” toward your political adversaries. For me, it’s just been plain SAD. If people can set aside their political passions for a minute (which is what spiritual maturity would demand), we’ve all not only been privy to the seedy side of a public figure’s private life, but we’ve had a front row seat to a marital implosion of two newlyweds. We’ve been able to see in these two very high profile people, just how devastating sexual unfaithfulness can be; in this case, unfaithfulness via social media. Some have tried to suggest that this is the fault of social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter. No, it’s not. This happened because a narcissistic power broker happened to use Twitter to show the world that when it comes to his private sexual life, he’s basically stuck on stupid. Twitter was simply the outlet that this person happened to use to demonstrate his folly. But what Anthony Weiner did in World Wide Web magnitude, many other couples have dealt with, albeit from a much smaller public platform. But it doesn’t make the crimes against their covenant of marriage any less devastating or their injury to their relationship any less painful. Thousands upon thousands of unfaithful acts against marriages have happened as a result of someone reconnecting with past loves or connecting with new ones via social media. If you’ve found yourself looking at this dilemma in your own marriage, or you want to take some precautions so you don’t find yourself dealing with it, let me suggest the following priorities.

5 Priorities for Dealing with Social Media Infidelity

1.)  Be proactive

Never trivialize or minimize the seriousness of social media indiscretions. Some have questioned if sending provocative pictures or messages to someone who is not your spouse via Twitter or Facebook is indeed marital infidelity since there was actually no physical contact. You’re dang right it’s infidelity. Marriage is not just a covenant made between two people’s bodies. It’s made between their intellect, emotions and spirits too. That’s why (among other things) Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28). The simple rule is this: if you’re doing anything, saying anything, texting anything, tweeting anything or imaging anything to  someone who is not your spouse and you wouldn’t feel comfortable doing it with your spouse standing next to you watching you do it, then it’s infidelity. If a husband or wife has committed indiscretions via social media outlets, then an immediate consequence would be that Facebook, Twitter and any other type of social networking programs should be removed from their computer and smart phone. How long? I’d suggest at least a year, but even then they are only reintroduced under tight scrutiny. 2.) Be accountable to each other. Each spouse should have every User ID and Password of the other spouse’s social media outlets including—obviously—email. They should have the freedom to be able to check the other person’s network communications without any reprisals. Some would say, “Where’s the trust in all of this?” Actually, it’s center stage. If a husband or wife is holding all of their User IDs and passwords in open hands, they’re demonstrating their trustworthiness and their desire to stay that way. Trust is so much easier to personally maintain when you have a realistic view of your own inadequacies. Not to be a name dropper but (once again) Jesus said, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). 3.) Friend each other on Facebook and follow each other’s Tweets. ‘Nuff said. 4.)  Agree on the ground rules. If a spouse isn’t comfortable with their husband or wife having people of the opposite sex that they friend or follow, then don’t friend or follow anyone of the opposite sex unless your spouse approves them. Maybe you could have your mother, your sister and your first grade teacher, men, but other than that, get your wife to sign off on them. If the temptation to act like an idiot on social media has a greater pull under certain conditions, then restrict those conditions. For instance, if a spouse finds themselves drawn into inappropriate conversation with people on the web late in the evening or when they are at an isolated computer, then put the computer center stage in the kitchen and don’t go on it any time your spouse isn’t there or after they have retired to bed. 5.)  Have third party wisdom speaking into your marriage. If you’ve had a problem in this area, then you should spend time both individually and as a couple with your pastor, rabbi, or professional counselor. It’s also smart to have a wiser (preferably older) couple that you can open up your hearts to that will speak forthright truth into your life. If you haven’t had a problem in this area, you should still do this. Healthy couples have older wiser mentors having regular contact with them. Go to a strong marriage conference like Family Life’s “Weekend to Remember” every year or so. Every few years, give your marriage a gift of a few sessions with your pastor, rabbi or professional marriage counselor—whether you think you need it or not. Anthony Weiner shot his marriage in the heart. Hopefully he and his wife, Huma Abedin, can rescue what’s left of it (and we can be praying that they can). But his dilemma can teach all of us much, and hopefully save us a trip down the same regretful path. Our friends Jason and Kelli Kraftsky are the Social Media Couple, and they have a ton of resources on their website about technology and relationships.

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