It was a picture-worthy moment. She snapped a pic and promptly posted it to Instagram with the words, “My love! #alwaysandforever #makesmehappy”
Then the unexpected happened. Her “love” turned to her and said, “Did you post that?” Enthusiastically, she said “Yes!” He said, “You didn’t even ask.” A bit puzzled, she said, “It’s a great picture of you, what’s the problem?” The problem was, he didn’t want his picture posted on social media.
What seemed like an innocent post was suddenly creating angst in their relationship.
Interestingly, this couple’s experience with social media isn’t uncommon. In plenty of relationships, one spouse uses social media as a way to express themselves and their political views, and they love sharing about life in general while their partner really limits what they post for the world to see. Maybe they aren’t on social media at all and they wrestle with their spouse being so out there.
The Pros and Cons of Social Media
Social media has so many positives. It allows you to stay in touch with people you might not otherwise see or hear from. It has saved the lives of countless missing children because of people sharing information quickly, and in the midst of being quarantined, couples have been able to attend live date nights and do other fun things together. But, there are also the potential potholes and even sinkholes you can fall into that are difficult to climb out of and can have a real negative impact on your marriage.
It’s one thing to have a conversation with friends about politics live and in person. It’s a whole different level when you put your views out there and invite the world into your conversation, especially if your spouse doesn’t agree with your perspective or it could be potentially harmful to either of your careers.
Without some understanding and agreement about what social media engagement looks like, this has the potential to be an ongoing area of conflict for any couple. The question for most couples is: How do you get to a place that is mutually agreeable?
Decide What Works for You as a Couple
It’s helpful to start out talking about what really matters. The ultimate goal would be for those who like to be on social media to be out there, but not at the expense of their marriage relationship. So, it’s helpful to think through what respect looks like when it comes to posting on social media. Have a conversation about what kind of boundaries you want to have with posts on social media. For example:
- How do you make sure that what you post doesn’t reflect badly on your spouse or embarrass them?
- If you want to post a picture of the person who isn’t on social, do you agree to ask permission first?
- When it comes to sharing political views, are there certain things you agree to stay away from?
- What about personal family information? How much is too much?
- What topics are totally off limits to post about?
- How much time will you spend on social? It’s easy to get lost in time scrolling at the expense of your spouse feeling ignored.
- If you are having a disagreement with your spouse, is putting it out there for everybody to see ok? What if you are “asking for a friend?”
- How will you guard against the comparison game—comparing everyone else’s marriage highlight reel to your real life?
Social media is well-entrenched part of our culture. In your efforts to keep your marriage healthy, perhaps the best thing you can do is pause for a minute and just ask yourself, “Is what I am about to post potentially harmful to my marriage?” If the answer is yes, hit cancel and move on. It’s pretty unlikely that any post is more important than being on the same page with the one you love.