DIGITAL DIVORCE DRAMA -- IS FACEBOOK TO BLAME?
Is Facebook ruining marriages? Can we use them as a scapegoat? Or is it really about proper communication and being open and transparent when reconnecting with an old flame online? These are tough issues that many couples face who have Facebook accounts but do not share passwords. One New Jersey Pastor feels that Facebook is the root of many problems in a marriage and is requesting his married church members close their Facebook accounts or get out of his church. I am sure you have heard of the edict "Thou shalt not commit adultery." What about thou also shalt not use Facebook? The Rev. Cedric Miller said 20 couples among the 1,100 members of his Living Word Christian Fellowship Church have run into marital trouble over the last six months after a spouse connected with an ex-flame over Facebook. Because of the problems, he is ordering about 50 married church officials to delete their accounts with the social networking site or resign from their leadership positions. He had previously asked married congregants to share their login information with their spouses and now plans to suggest that they give up Facebook altogether. "I've been in extended counseling with couples with marital problems because of Facebook for the last year and a half," he said. "What happens is someone from yesterday surfaces, it leads to conversations and there have been physical meet-ups. The temptation is just too great." Miller is married and has a Facebook account that he uses to keep in touch with six children, but he will heed his own advice and cancel his account this weekend. On Sunday, he plans to "strongly suggest" that all married people stop using Facebook, lest they endanger their marriage. Miller said he has spoken from the pulpit before about the dangers of Facebook, asking married couples to give each other their passwords to the site. "Some did. Others got scared and deleted their accounts right away. And some felt it was none of my business and continued on," he said. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers says 81 percent of its members have used or been faced with evidence plucked from Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and other social networking sites in divorce cases over the last five years. About one in five adults uses Facebook for flirting, according to a 2008 report by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. And a do-it-yourself divorce site in the United Kingdom, Divorce-Online, reported late last year that the word "Facebook" was appearing in about one in five of the petitions it was handling. I believe marriages need a strong foundation from the onset. If one thing crumbles people will seek other avenues which can include flirting online on social media sites or even worse. It is important to openly communicate with your partner about who you friend on Facebook and what you are saying to others. If you are unhappy with your spouse for some reason, talking about those issues are paramount. If you cannot come to a compromise I would suggest seeking out a qualified therapist of family coach to help you address and solve your dilemma. Most issues that get swept under the rug mushroom and get worse over time. Nipping concerns in the bud usually leads to a closer relationship in the future. Hiding from critical issues drives couples apart. I don't think that canceling your Facebook account will stop those with a wandering eye from straying. It is about communication, working out problems in a calm manner, committing to intimacy, and all of those important topics that keep marriages strong. Otherwise, the divorce statistics will continue to climb.