published Sunday, January 31st, 2010

Kennedy: Face it, Facebook can damage your marriage

Last January, Jason Krafsky and his wife Kelli blogged about Facebook and marriage. Little did they know what they were stirring up!

"We wrote the posts because we had seen so many marriages unnecessarily sidetracked by a spouse reconnecting with an old flame on Facebook," said Mr. Krafsky. "The posts were re-tweeted and referenced all over the place. We were getting comments and e-mails from people, some of them heart wrenching, saying thank-you for helping me know I'm not crazy for being upset that my spouse is "friending" people he/she has been in relationship with in the past."

One woman wrote that she noticed that all of her husband's friends on Facebook were women. When she addressed it, he told her it was no big deal. She didn't know what to do or where to go to find help until she ran across the Krafsky's posts.

A husband shared that his wife had reconnected with a high school sweetheart and left her family to be with a man she hadn't seen in many years.

"Some of the stories we heard were crazy," said Mrs. Krafsky. "Many of these people were already struggling in their marriage, and Facebook revealed the problem. Our goal was to reach out to people before they make a poor choice that will impact them and many others for a very long time."

The Krafskys say technology is not the biggest threat. It is the choices people are making on and off line.

"Lack of boundaries is a huge issue," said Mr. Krafsky. "If you don't have good boundaries, you have no business being on social networking or game sites. It's too risky. The other issue is when people get caught crossing the line they usually don't handle it well."

As a result of their blog posts, the Krafskys realized there was a need for solid information that could help couples navigate cyberspace without putting their marriage at risk. Their soon-to-be-released book, "Facebook and Your Marriage," gives couples tips tod help get them back on track.

Here is a sneak peak:

* Don't friend exes. This includes anybody you have shared a physical or emotional connection with.

* Be picky. Before "friending" someone, ask would my spouse be uncomfortable with me being "friends" with this person?

* Share your user name and password with each other. This is good accountability. You should not be doing anything online that you wouldn't want your spouse to know about.

* Don't post negative things about your spouse. Airing relationship issues online makes everybody uncomfortable.

* Set time limits. Spending all of your evening hours online puts your marriage at risk.

"Establishing personal boundaries is a part of everyday life with friends, co-workers, clients, and extended family members," said Mr. Krafsky. "Setting boundaries around your marriage relationship is key to proactively protecting yourself, your spouse, your marriage, your kids and your reputation."

E-mail Julie Baumgardner, president and executive director of First Things First, at julieb@firstthings.org.

about Mark Kennedy...

Mark Kennedy is the editor of the Times Free Press opinion pages and writes the Sunday “Life Stories” column. He also writes a Saturday automotive column, “Test Drive,” for the Business section. For 13 years, Kennedy was features editor of the newspaper, and before that he was the newspaper’s first Sunday editor. The Times Free Press Life section won the state press award for Best Community Lifestyles four times during his tenure. Before Chattanooga’s newspapers ...

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