Q: My husband and I were married this past spring. We had a great summer and especially enjoyed doing things together during the weekend. Then came fall -- and with it college football season. I knew my husband was a fan, but now that we're married I'd prefer to be spending Saturdays doing things together that we're both interested in, rather than waiting around while he's watching his alma mater on TV. Is this situation something I should be worried about?
Jim: Couples often get married thinking the secret to marital bliss is having the exact same interests. It doesn't take long for them to discover -- like we all do -- that we're rarely just like our spouse. The good news is we don't have to be. Successful marriages aren't the result of perfect chemistry. They're built, in part, by learning how to bring our separateness together.
A local couple, Ted and Cindy, are a good example of this. They like to fish together nearly every weekend in the summer. Well, actually, Ted likes to fish. Cindy doesn't really care for it, but she loves to read and loves the Colorado outdoors. So on Saturday mornings, they drive into the Rocky Mountains, and he fly fishes while she sits on the bank and enjoys a book. They have a picnic together. They laugh. They talk. They enrich their marriage. But their deeper connection doesn't come about by forcing their individual interests onto each other. It comes from bringing their "separateness" together.
Differences can strengthen a couple's bond rather than weaken it. But it takes patience and a willingness to embrace your spouse's unique view of life. If you both will do that, you'll discover a deeper intimacy with one another than you ever thought possible.
Question: Can you suggest ways my spouse and I might use social media to encourage each other and strengthen our marriage?
Greg Smalley, Vice President, Family Ministries: Author Neil Postman says that "every technology is both a burden and a blessing; not either-or, but this-and-that." This is certainly true where online social networking is concerned. When used with wisdom and discernment, it can be an effective tool for strengthening marriages. Here are some suggestions how this idea might play out in practical terms:
-- Connectivity. Social media serve marriages best when used to maintain a healthy connection between spouses. A husband or wife on a business trip can use Facebook to share new experiences with the entire family and to give them a sense of participating in the journey. It's also a good way to hold yourself accountable by keeping family members posted on your activities and whereabouts.
-- Enhancing relationships. Some research suggests that social media, when used appropriately, can actually add intensity and immediacy to face-to-face relationships. When used as a supplement to rather than a replacement for flesh-and-blood contact with another human being, online communication can add new layers of intimacy and understanding to our interactions with those we love.
-- Walking in the light. Husbands and wives who connect with old friends via Facebook may sometimes have unprecedented opportunities to enter into the details of one another's personal histories. This can be tricky. It might become a source of tension, suspicion or jealousy if one of the partners' old high school flames decides to put in a "friend" request. But such developments can be beneficial if they have the effect of eliminating secrets and shining a light on the past.
-- Community. The healthiest marriages are those linked into a strong support group. Couples need other couples, and social media can be an effective tool for networking, discovering common interests with friends, organizing events and coordinating get-togethers.
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. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.
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