A man in his 40s, married almost 20 years, reports the following scenario: “I wasn’t looking for this. She just asked me to be a friend on Facebook. I haven’t talked to her since high school. She looked great. Pretty soon we start texting each other and then I talk to her on my way home from work. I thought I could keep this thing contained. My wife saw all the texts from an unknown number on the cell phone bill and she hacked into my Facebook account and found all the personal messages. I can’t believe she did that! We haven’t met in person (yet). It’s not like I’m having an affair!” My response; “It’s exactly like you are having an affair, because you are having an affair.”
This is old news really. It’s the same old problem reworked for the information age. As access to information and methods of communication has proliferated, so has our ability to get ourselves in trouble! Married couples are having a harder time with openness and honesty lately due to the many and varied ways in which spouses can secretly communicate with others. Twenty years ago, if a married woman was curious about her ex-boyfriend from high school she would probably have to go to great effort to track him down. Once he was tracked down, she might have to engage in some secret surveillance before finding the opportunity to meet with him alone – so nobody would find out.
Now, the ex-boyfriends and girlfriends are just a private mouseclick away. Every week I work with couples who are experiencing marriage trouble because one or both have engaged in secret communication with someone who is a threat to the marriage. It used to be just through email and furtive cell phone calls in closets. Now it’s often lengthy private chats via Facebook and texting. People easily convince themselves that their activities will leave no trail, but everything done electronically can be retrieved these days!
So the problem is lack of openness and honesty within the marriage. In the words of Shirley Glass, author of “NOT Just Friends,” married couples need to maintain appropriate windows and walls. Spouses need to open up windows with each other, but put up privacy walls with others who are threatening to the security of the marriage. Let me explain what these “windows” might look like.
Maintaining windows in your marriage will mean that your spouse knows all your passwords to all your online accounts (email, Facebook, etc.). Spouses should feel free to pick up your cell phone or check your online activity whenever they want. It’s not about control. It’s about trust and honesty. It’s not an invasion of privacy. It’s about keeping the window open! For more information, I highly encourage you to read http://www.shirleyglass.com/afterword.htm.