By Dr. David Hawkins
CBN.com With the click of a mouse all of us can find anything we want: shopping, games, friendship and even sex. It’s quick, it’s easy, and if you’re careful, you won’t get caught.
I don’t say this to tempt you—I say it because it’s true, it’s dangerous, and it’s creating problems for many, many marriages. What appears to be innocent can become a snare, leading you away from your marriage vows and your relationship to God.
You might think I’m exaggerating. Consider the fact that online addictions are growing at phenomenal rates, as is the case for online gaming as well as pornographic sites. Consider that online dating website are flourishing, offering a new, easy and quick way to meet your future mate—whether or not you’re already married.
Perhaps you can tell that I view the online craze with great concern. I’m the first to tout the many benefits of the World Wide Web. I wouldn’t know what to do if unable to check my email, do research for my writing on the web, as well as do a little shopping here and there. It’s fun, fast and absolutely entertaining.
But, there are pitfalls. There are dangers we must be aware of. Without safety measures—someone watching over our shoulders to keep us honest—the temptations are simply too great for some to manage. Yes, there are many who handle these temptations well. But, there are also many, many who fall into temptation, causing ruinous damage to their marriage, as well as emotional and spiritual lives.
Consider the following post to our Message Board.
Dear Dr. Hawkins,
I have been married for 3 months now and it hasn't been a good start. I just recently asked God to come into my heart. My problem is with my husband--he is a backslider. Three weeks after we got married I found out that he has been going online and paying to have access on dating websites, He says he’s there to keep track of his friends. I don't believe that because I recently found that that he has also been talking to another woman that he has met through one of the websites. My husband is a much older man than I am and I am very hurt by his actions. My husband will be 46 this year and me who just turned 30. On top of all this he has been married before and he’s got 5 kids with her who are all teenagers and they all don't like me. I have given my circumstances to God and also my husband. My family has been telling me to leave but I don't want to break my vows that I made in front of God. Any advice on this situation?
Yes, I have a lot of advice on this situation.
First, make a clear agreement about appropriate boundaries for online involvement. It is absolutely inappropriate for any married person to have opposite sex friends on the Internet. This kind of arrangement is rife for problems. Because of the secrecy involved, not to mention the titillation and excitement of online friendships with the opposite sex, trouble often occurs.
Furthermore, it is critical that you create safeguards to monitor online involvement. Couples should have agreements about checking the history of their mate’s computer use, and perhaps even installing “watchdog” programs to insure access is denied to rated sites.
Second, since your mate has obviously been deceptive with you, this indicates deeper problems. His deception suggests deeper issues needing to be explored, such as a lack of respect for you, a disregard for healthy boundaries and perhaps dissatisfaction in the marriage. I wonder how committed he is to his new marriage vows. Creating friendships with other women online suggests serious problems.
Third, there are also stepfamily problems needing attention. You indicate that his children don’t like you. Why? What have you done to create a friendship with them? Does your husband feel caught in the middle? These issues, combined with your husband’s online activities, suggest a marriage emergency. This is no time for passively waiting, but rather immediate and critical action. While I agree with asking God for guidance and wisdom, and praying fervently for your marriage, you must take immediate action as well. An intervention is called for, where you, and perhaps others, confront him with his inappropriate behavior.
Given your circumstances, I strongly suggest seeking immediate counsel, and would clearly, and firmly, invite your husband to participate in the counseling with you. There is much work to be done, but nothing in your message indicates that it’s time to give up on your marriage. It’s time to take action, set clear boundaries, and let your husband know you’ll fight to save the marriage.
What do other CBN readers think about online friendships while married? Are they safe, or, as I suggest, do they always invite danger? I invite you to respond to these questions on the Message Board.
With nearly 30 years of counseling experience, Dr. David Hawkins, Ph.D., has a special interest in helping individuals and couples strengthen their relationships. Hawkins is the author of more than twenty two books including When Pleasing Others is Hurting You, Nine Critical Mistakes Most Couples Make, Saying It So He'll Listen, and Does Your Man Have the Blues? Hawkins is also a phone relationship consultant. Learn more at his Web site, www.YourRelationshipDoctor.com.
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