Are You Connected?
How Social Media is Affecting Today’s Marriage
Are you the couple that goes out to dinner, takes a selfie, upload it on Facebook and then spends the rest of the evening glued to your phone to check up on how many likes you get or read the comments? Do you put up pictures of your gifts from the loved one, fake a smile for a profile picture, check in to places you don’t even visit just to make the ex jealous? Chances are that once you are married, you both will end up sharing the same bed and nothing more! There is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, Snap Chat and many more social media to help you connect – but the bitter truth is that we are connected via technology but disconnected in life. How is this infectious trend affecting today’s marriage? Let’s find out from qualified marriage counselor, Nalini Karunaratne, the side effects of being cyber-connected…
The success of a marriage is totally dependent on the degree that you are able to connect with each other – mentally, emotionally and spiritually. The physical connection alone does not make a good marriage, although this is the most emphasized and focused upon today. There is ample evidence of many cases where, even though physical intimacy may not be possible – due to some tragic or unforeseen circumstances – the marriage continues successfully due to the other connections that still exist.
We were wired to connect. Neuroscience has discovered that our brain’s very design makes it sociable, inexorably drawn into an intimate brain-to-brain linkup whenever we engage with another person. The growing interest and popularity of the various social networks that are in use today like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram and so on, give people the feeling that they are very connected. However, these connections are with people who are not visibly present and this in turn creates an increasing disconnection with the family who is immediately present. So you become present and connected with the world but absent with the family. Gradually, without you even being aware of it, people who are outside become of greater interest and importance than the family who is present with you in the home.
Today’s marriage environment which comprises generally of working couples, may go to bed with their respective smart phones, deciding to browse through their respective social networks and even go through their emails before falling off to sleep. This means they can become connected with all but not to each other. No time is shared with bedtime chats that can be made to be pleasurable, relaxing and connecting. Some couples even forfeit the pleasure of watching a movie at home together. Each person prefers to watch the movie of his or her choice on their individual IT devices. By doing so, they may lose the opportunity to discuss and share opinions and views on the movie which may further improve the mental connection, but this is not even considered of much importance. Going out for a meal or travelling together are good opportunities to connect and bond with each other in amicable conversation but an IT device can intrude and obstruct such connections. The interest and addiction to the use of social networks can rob you of precious time that could be gainfully spent on connecting with each other and family if one is not careful.
In the globalized world of today, social networks help you to connect with friends with whom you have lost contact with, finding them and reconnecting. You can share pictures of get-to-gathers with absentees. You can exchange items of news, encouraging quotes, and keep connected and enlarge your circle of friends as you go along. But the privacy of your marriage relationship should not be jeopardized by what you may reveal on a social network. The beauty, sanctity and tenderness of that connection should always be kept private. Making it public, even by inference will not enhance it and may even endanger it. A beautiful bouquet of roses, or an expensive and loving gift you may receive from your spouse, is meant to strengthen the connection with each other and as such, requires the privacy it deserves. Putting a picture of it on your social network can encourage feelings of self-pity, competition and even lead to a conflict among others who view it. The marriage connection can be damaged when people are unable to differentiate between what should be kept private and what should be shared, that there is an invasion of privacy.
In our speeded up and busy world of today, your interest in constantly checking and browsing through your social network, can become an addiction that can rob you of precious time that could be gainfully spent on connecting with each other and family. Social network connections are beneficial in helping to build connections but should be used with wisdom and discretion as they could prove disastrous if used vindictively or carelessly.
You could perhaps use this check list to examine yourself.
1. Are you using valuable spare time engrossed in social networking?
2. Do you find IT communication more convenient than personal communication even when it is possible?
3. Because of your interest in IT devices, do you tend to ignore signals that your spouse and family need you?
4. Do you ignore the realization that your appetite for the IT connection is increasing?
If you should feel convicted of your usage, you should check yourself before it becomes too late. Resist the temptation to make public, tender moments in your private life. Share incidents, views and quotes that help to build family relationships. Be connected with your friends and others outside your home but maintain your family boundaries. Don’t encourage or indulge in encroachments! Building and strengthening your marriage connection is a lifetime job, and one cannot be too complacent at any stage. The family unit is under constant attack today and what appears to be a connection can turn into a disconnection.