Dec 112016 4 Responses

When Your Spouse Overuses Social Media

I’m not allowed to use my cell phone at the dinner table. It’s a house rule. If you are a guest at our house, you won’t be allowed to use your phone at the table either. I’ll never mention it, but Ella will be quick to let you know if you violate the rule.

We began the no phone at the table policy several years ago. In talking about my social media use, Jenny mentioned a desire to have at least some time in which I was off the grid. She mentioned family dinner time as an example. So each night during dinner, my phone is in another room while we are having dinner. (See: 4 Cornerstone Habits of Healthy Families)

Social media is addictive. How it impacts the brain mimics many other addictive substances. It rewards us for interaction, serves as a distraction from stress, and is an easy way to avoid painful experiences. Many people have no idea the control Facebook or Instagram plays over our lives. We likely check social media four to fives times more often than we consciously realize.

While everyone should monitor their social media use and take steps to protect against addiction, what do we do when our spouse overuses social media?

First, we must frame the issue in the appropriate way. “I’m frustrated by how much you use social media.” Own the issue. Don’t say, “You are addicted to social media.” Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t. But framing it as “you have a problem” allows them to deny it. By framing it as “I have a problem with your social media use” it cannot (or at least should not) be denied by your spouse.

Second, recognize social media use is like a secondary issue which masks the real problem. Do you really have a problem with their social media use or are you upset they aren’t giving you proper attention, are failing to handle other responsibilities or are oversharing private information? Rarely is the actual use of social media the issue. More often we are frustrated by some unmet need and the frustration expresses itself with their social media use. (See: Facebook Doesn’t Cause Divorce)

Once we understand that social media probably isn’t the actual issue, then we are ready to find a solution.

4 Steps to a Solution

Discuss it. Don’t hint at it or passive aggressively mention it some other way. Name it. Calmly, but assertively, engage in a conversation about the issue. Don’t blame or deflect. Don’t blow it out of proportion or diminish the issue. Put the problem in its proper terms. Share, listen, question, and discuss.

Negotiate it. After you get to the real issue–and remember, it probably is about more than social media–begin to navigate a solution. Create times or spaces when social media is off limits. Have certain topics that require approval from your spouse before they are allowed to be posted. If your spouse ever feels uncomfortable with a post, delete it. When your spouse talks to you, put your phone down, look them in the eye, and listen.

Live it. Whatever you say you are going to do, do it. Don’t verbally agree to something and then refuse to do what you say. That would be passive aggressive behavior (for more, see HERE). One key to relational health is being able to discuss an issue, negotiate a solution, and then live out that solution. Doing what you say you will do is vital to a successful marriage.

Review it. Problems are rarely solved. More often than not, we find temporary solutions that will have to be re-discussed and re-negotiated at a later time. Never feel like one conversation is all it takes. Have a continuing conversation about the issue to make sure you are both on the same page.

Social media has many pros and cons in our life. It can add great things, but it comes with many drawbacks. It shouldn’t surprise us when social media causes some frustration within our relationships. Instead of being shocked, we should expect moments where we have to discuss what we are doing and find a better course of action.

What’s one simple tip people could apply to better their social media use?

4 Responses to When Your Spouse Overuses Social Media
  1. PastorJenineMarie Reply

    I so agree with this article! My husband and I recently had the social media discussion. It uses way too much time, take away from relationship, and creates relationships that should not be happening. There are good things to online social time and social media but not so good things as well. I wanted to be an example to my other friends that stopping some of the social media time can be done if not eliminate it all together. I don’t feel its good for marriages for spouses to be on facebook too much or even at all.

  2. […] 5. Openly discuss the use of technology without defensiveness. Listen. if your spouse feels you are ...
  3. Missy Reply

    My husband is on Facebook and Instagram constantly This is after talking with and meeting a woman that lived across the country and spending 4 days “selling her a camera” Yes he drove 1800 miles to New Mexico; said he was going to a convention and pulled our 35′ 5th wheel and jeep out there. After I figured it out he said I fabricated it and that I was crazy Then the receipts started coming in and he only told me as much as I could figure out. Took 6 months to get the story and I still don’t think I have it all. Also direct messaged the woman and she read my messages but would not reply. Even after all that, he started an Instagram account and in one year follows 2000 people. He’s already maxed out Facebook at 5000. No matter what I say to him, he says that everyone does it and I’m the one with the problem. He are self employed and he added so much to the debt we had to add 80,000 to our mortgage or we would have been bankrupt. I’m at the end of my rope. He follows a couple women on both social media sites that he likes 90% of what they post. I went away for a 27 hour backpacking trip and he likes and shared 23 posts from one woman But again, he says I’m creating the problem because I talk to him about it and want answers Is it wrong to just throw in the towel. I no longer love him. Don’t think I ever did. He hid a lot from me before our wedding. I’m 30 years into this and just want some happiness in my life. Already did 4 years of counseling. It seems like that just gave him justification to do what he does. He’s worse now than ever.

  4. Missy Reply

    I also have to add that when I go through his phone, on the rare time he’s not sleeping with it, he has screen shots of inappropriate images of women. If you met him, you would think I’m crazy because he”s very personable but I’m the one living with him. He’s also up in the middle of the night texting women but said he had to do that because she lived in Europe. So What!!!! Stop talking to her. Said he can’t sleep. Well before iPhones you just went back to bed. I am so frustrated. I don’t remember the last time I laughed. But on the flip side, he’s accused me of talking to people and keeping things from him. I work from home I homeschooled my kids. I have no social life. It’s just a case of me being accused of what he’s doing.

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