Q: How can I tell if Facebook and social media are negatively impacting my marriage? I don't think this is the case at present, but I don't want to be taken by surprise either.
Jim: Even the best marriages can fall prey to subtle threats posed by social media, so you're wise to be on guard. If you're spending more time on Facebook than you are interacting with your spouse, or if online "relationships" are more satisfying than your marriage, this is a definite sign that something isn't right.
Secrecy in any form is another danger signal. Do you log off or minimize the Facebook window when your spouse walks into the room? If so, you need to ask yourself why. Transparency is the foundation of trust, and trust is essential to every successful marriage.
In connection with this last point, there are several other questions to ask yourself about your interactions with online friends, especially those of the opposite sex. Do your conversations include things that should be kept between you and your spouse? Do you find yourself daydreaming about any of these people? Do you look for excuses to visit them online? Do you share thoughts, feelings or problems with them that you don't reveal to your mate? Are you convinced that they understand you better than your spouse does? If so, there's a danger that these relationships may be crossing the line between the platonic and the romantic.
If you are seeing any of these red flags, I'd urge you to sit down with your spouse and take a very close look at your situation. It might be a good idea to do this with the assistance of a trained counselor. You can locate one by calling Focus on the Family.
Q: What can I do to help my spouse overcome his pornography addiction? He knows it's killing our marriage and has tried to stop, but it seems to be a losing battle.
Dr. Greg Smalley, Vice President, Family Ministries: Sadly, sexual addictions of all kinds have become widespread in contemporary society. It affects men and women from all walks of life. Because it is rooted in the basic human craving for relationship, sexual addiction is tenacious and progressive in nature. Porn is powerful because it offers a counterfeit form of intimacy and attachment.
It's important to keep this in mind, and to understand that your role is not to keep him accountable. You can pray for him, love him and ask what he needs from you, but you cannot control his behavior. Instead, it's critical that you begin to do what you can to care for your own heart, and find help for how his addiction has hurt and impacted you.
The good news is that effective help is available. We suggest that you begin by seeking professional counseling, and we highly recommend that you do this together. The most successful approach involves an initial program of intensive therapy, followed by regular and ongoing counseling sessions. Also key to recovery is identifying a trusted friend or group of people who will provide an environment of support and accountability. Focus on the Family can provide you with referrals to helpful programs of this kind.
In the meantime, you and your husband might consider installing some accountability software on your computer. Software programs of this kind aren't the ultimate answer to the serious and complex problems like those your spouse is facing, but they can play an important role in helping you keep tabs on the entire family's online activities.
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program.