The relationship of technology and marriage has a long history. I'm sure at some point during the Stone Age a woman was frustrated because her mate wouldn't step away from the fire and come to bed. More recently, televisions became places of congregation for couples and families. Today, our unions are intertwined with smartphones, tablets, social networks and more. The current tech du jour is Facebook. The question we have to ask is, are these tools good for marriages or bad? The answer: potentially both.
I'm sure you've heard the statistic that Facebook is responsible for 20 percent of divorces in the United States. That's false! Husband-and-wife team Jason and Kelli Krafsky, co-authors of "Facebook and Your Marriage" have written a great article debunking this statistic. In short, not only is the number wrong, but the number doesn't even represent Facebook as a causal factor in breakups. That's not to say that Facebook can't become a tool that will inflict damage on your marriage.
Marlo Gottfurcht, author of "Love, Marriage... and Facebook" filled her book with stories told to her of salacious online encounters that did damage to marriages. Many start off innocently enough, but then a chat window pops up from an old flame, a few poor decisions are made and the chat history is erased in an attempt to cover up the virtual fling.
"If you're on Facebook and hiding what you're doing, then that's definitely a red flag," says Gottfurcht.
That's why the Krafskys established a few personal rules to keep their marriage safe; one of them is not to use the chat feature.
"Everybody is about two-to-three clicks away from making a bad decision on Facebook, especially when you've got somebody that you had a past emotional or physical bond with," says Jason.
The other big rule the Krafskys follow is to not "friend" exes.
"We learned early on that it's not a positive thing for our relationship," says Jason. "And not that we were threatened by that personally; the question was, 'How is this going to improve our marriage?'"
New technologies present a game without rules. Each couple needs to openly discuss what those rules should be, weighting the potential dangers against the benefits. The Krafskys have done this in all aspects of their life. For example, neither will ride in a car (a more established technology) alone with a person of the opposite sex.
Of course, technology persists because it generally does more good than harm. There are many apps and tools that help organize the daily routines of families. In terms of Facebook, the Krafskys use it to keep in touch when one of them is out of town. The couple has also created a private group for their family members to share pictures of their kids.
In her book, Gottfurcht tells a story of a wife who gets revved up in an online chat then takes that sexual energy to the bedroom with her husband. Depending on the couple, this exercise may be dancing a little too close to the danger zone, but for others it might provide the spark to rekindle their boring sex life.
"There's one story in the book where a husband and wife have Facebook sex when he's out of town," says Gottfurcht, "so if you find you're using it with others, maybe you need to stop and think about spicing up your own marriage and use it with your spouse."
Without proper communication between a husband and wife, technology can create a minefield out of a playground. Think of the damage that can be done in the following situations: the backseat of a car turns into a snogging nook, a sultry picture turns a text message to a sext, and video chatting on your smartphone makes things much more intimate and personal.
Now imagine doing these things with your spouse! When you have good dialogue and clear boundaries on how your tech tools are to be used, they can be very enriching to your marriage.