Dear Dr. Buckingham,
I am reaching out to you because I am about to lose my 15-year marriage over Facebook. To make a long story short, my wife has turned into a Facebook Addict. She spends at least three to four hours a day on the damn intranet and does not tend to the kids or me. While our three kids work on their homework and I work around the house, she socializes on Facebook. I asked her why does she spend so much time on Facebook and she told me that she gets a high from the interaction and that all of her friends are on there. She also gets defensive when I question her about Facebook. I feel like I am married to a15 year old. I know that everyone is on social media these days, but what happened to being social. How Do I Cope with My Wife-She is Addicted to Facebook?
Mr. Facebook Husband
Dear Mr. Facebook Husband,
I am glad you decided to reach out because 15 years is a long time to throw away over Facebook. I can relate to your frustration with social media and agree that people have lost the concept of what it means to be social without social media. In regards to your wife, I believe that it is important to respond to her Facebook addiction as if it is an alcohol addiction. I say this because individuals with addictive traits typically engage in similar behavioral patterns such as denial, defensiveness and occasional angry outbursts when confronted. With this in mind, here are a few do’s and don’ts for coping with your wife’s addiction to Facebook.
Do: Maintain a respectful posture and avoid name-calling or labeling. Even if you feel that she is acting like a 15-year-old teen, do not speak to her in that manner. Always speak to your wife in the same manner in which you would like her to speak to you.
Don’t: Expect her to get off of Facebook just because you ask her to stop or if you say, “If you will not stop for me, stop for our kids.” Generally speaking, people who engage in compulsive behavior rarely connect their behavior to their loved ones. Don’t make her behavior be about the family. It impacts the family, but her behavior is about her.
Do: Continue to be patient as you work through your frustration. Addictive behavior typically develops over time. Know that your wife’s willingness and/or ability to change will come with time. How much time? No one knows, but you can establish some guidelines to help you determine if progress is being made. You probably heard of the term “Quitting Cold Turkey.” This means to withdraw from something suddenly or completely. Believe it or not, this is difficult for most addicts. A gradual process might work better for your wife.
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Don’t: Talk badly about your wife to the kids. Like you, they have noticed her behavior. Try not to avoid conversations with them, but make sure you let them know that their mother loves them and that her behavior is about her and not them.
Do: Seek marital counseling. Trying to figure this thing out all by yourself is not a good idea. Understanding and coping with addictive behavior requires a certain amount of knowledge, patience, insight, and skill. A professional like myself can help you gain insight into your wife’s addictive Facebook behavior.
Don’t: Get into a power struggle. Remember that the more we push someone the more they move away from us. This is the typical parent-child dynamic. Your ability to get your wife to listen to you and to be heard will only occur if she feels that you are not trying to control her.
Finally, do take care of yourself. Try to do things that keep you level-headed. I know that you might feel bad or worry about the kids, but you cannot give to them or your wife what you do not have. Make sure you put on your oxygen mask before you help others.
If you have questions for Dr. Dwayne Buckingham regarding relationships (married, single, etc), parenting, or personal growth and development, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: The ideas, opinions, and recommendations contained in this post are not intended as a substitute for seeking professional counseling or guidance. Any concerns or questions that you have about relationships or any other source of potential distress should be discussed with a professional, in person. The author is not liable or responsible for any personal or relational distress, loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or recommendations in this post.