I didn’t own a cell phone in high school (gasp). No one did. We didn’t have “the internet.” Google wasn’t a noun, much less a verb. As I was transitioning from high school student to semi-autonomous college student, technology was exploding. I owned my first cell phone when I was freshman in college. It stayed off and was locked in my car’s glove compartment. It was for emergencies only, as every call cost about a zillion bucks. It also weighed 85 pounds and was the size of a Chihuahua, so I wasn’t tempted to carry it around. But I was considered “cool” for having one.
Fast forward to my senior year and preparing for marriage. I still didn’t have a cell phone- a few of the “rich” kids carried them around, but it wasn’t mainstream yet. When I think of how much easier it would have been to find my boyfriend/fiance on campus if we’d had phones….Oh, the time saved. No money wasted on the stupid pay phone in the hallway. No waiting an eternity for someone to answer the dorm phone. No waiting another eternity while said someone yelled at the top of his lungs, “JARED….JARED….YOUR GIRLFRIEND IS ON THE PHONE.” No waiting until some kind soul finally picks up the abandoned phone to inform me that Jared signed out for work three hours ago and won’t be home until after curfew. Man, things would have been so much easier! Then again, getting into trouble would have been so much easier if we had to deal with texting, Facebook and Twitter as clueless kids with raging hormones. I’m honestly glad we made it out just in time!
We have been married for almost 13 years, and the changes in technology in just that time are staggering. We were married a couple of years before I even owned a cell phone. Then it was a few more before texting became available and finally affordable. A few years later, Facebook came onto the scene as something not just for college kids anymore. We adapted as new technology and social media became available. But I do wish we could go back in time and be taught as kids and young adults how we should handle the technology available to us. There was no preparation for the onslaught of media we now deal with on a day-to-day basis. When we were doing our premarital counseling, there wasn’t a session devoted to keeping our marriage guarded from issues that may arise via Facebook. There were no guidelines on how to communicate with your spouse using text messaging.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the advances we have made in technology (by “we,” I mean the nameless, faceless people with IQ’s of 850 who populate the Silicon valley). I have a website/blog, a Facebook page (both personal and business), a Twitter account and best of all, Pinterest. And that’s just a drop in the bucket of what’s available out there. But when I read this article from To Love, Honor, and Vacuum, it hit the nail on the head. Here’s just a sample (click on the link to read the article in its entirety.)
It’s 1991 and Miss Recent Law Grad needs to talk to Mr. Lawyer Partner about a case on the weekend. She dials his home phone and Mr. Lawyer’s 4-year-old son answers. Recent Law Grad convinces him to pass the phone to his mommy, who explains that Mr. Lawyer Partner is out taking the 8-year-old to gymnastics. Miss Recent Law Grad used to take gymnastics, too. They chat for a bit about the lessons, and she leaves a message with Mrs. Lawyer Partner explaining why she’s bugging Mr. Lawyer Partner at home.
(Fast forward to 2013) Miss Recent Law Grad texts Mr. Lawyer Partner while he’s watching gymnastics. She’s never talked to the wife. She knows vaguely that he has a few kids, but they’re not real to her. But everyday she and the partner text back and forth at least a dozen times. They’re becoming good friends.
It’s 1982 and Johnny Doe is driving through his hometown when he passes the old “make out bridge”. He has fleeting thoughts of Mary Jane, with whom he often frequented that spot. But he doesn’t look her up, because he has no idea where she is. She’s probably married anyhow.
(2013) And Johnny Doe? He found Mary Jane on Facebook a couple of months back. They’ve been privately messaging for a while now. She’s been married for 23 years, but she feels dissatisfied. “Talking” to Johnny reminds her of those exhilarating times when she was young and felt desirable and the future was all open to her. Her husband has no idea that she’s found Johnny again.
See where she’s going with this? It’s just so easy for a spouse to be pulled away unintentionally! Be sure to read the rest of her post by clicking the link above. What used to be impossible is now the everyday. And we need to adapt to the changes to protect our marriage. My husband and I share a Facebook account (we have all the same friends anyway, and there’s no question about with whom we are interacting.) We both know the passwords to each other’s emails, phones, etc. I’ll often scroll through my husband’s phone and read his texts, just because I’m curious about his work interactions and with whom he spends his day. I like to see how people respond to his leadership and how he solves problems at work. He knows this, (I do it in front of him-not snooping around) and it’s just another layer of protection for us. He reads my blog every day so he doesn’t feel like I’m connecting with people “out there” and leaving him out of it (even if he really doesn’t care what the latest makeup tip going around Pinterest is.) We trust each other-it’s everyone else that’s the problem 🙂 No, really, we live a world marred by sin, and we have to be vigilant and fiercely protective of one another and our family unit! I’d love to hear what you do to keep your marriage strong and protected, other than “unplugging” completely and living on a mountain top somewhere. 🙂
***Quick update: along the lines of “I wish I had been taught as a child/teen about technology” here’s a great starting point for you parents: the teen cell phone contract. Personalize it to fit your family’s needs and priorities and help prepare your child for the future!
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