About 20 years ago, my cousin brought home his family’s first computer. Since I was the go-to tech guy for our extended family, he asked me over to help them with the setup. I got them all hooked up and connected to the Internet with a dial-up modem and an AOL account (this was 20 years ago, remember).
A few years later, we had a much different conversation. Devastated, he told me how his wife was leaving him and their two young sons to go live with someone she met online. As he and I talked, it hit me that this happened through the very computer I helped set up. When I was doing that, I had no idea it would have the power to destroy their family.
Is Technology a Relationship Killer?
Playboy is dropping nude photos from its magazines because it can’t compete with the amount of pornography available online.
The Ashley Madison website wreaked havoc on marriages through the affairs it launched and the information that was leaked about people who signed up for its service.
The Internet allows people to conceal their identity and form inappropriate relationships with people they normally wouldn’t come in contact with.
So is technology inherently damaging us and our relationships? Or are these examples just expressions of our sinful nature finding any outlet it can find? As the church works to build and protect marriages, should we advise couples to flee from technology? Or can we redeem it for good?
Can Technology Become a Relationship Builder?
Not too long ago, I heard about a guy who told his wife he wanted out of their six-year marriage. He wasn’t open to counseling and had essentially written off their relationship. His wife never gave up hope and finally convinced him to start a marriage Bible reading plan on YouVersion. Though they followed the plan separately, through the readings, God completely changed this guy’s heart. Just a few weeks later, the husband moved back home and they went on the honeymoon they never were able to take. (See below for reading plan suggestions.)
The same technology that rips relationships apart can also bring them together. Instead of seeking out an affair with a married person, singles can find other singles through an online dating service. Instead of using the Internet to look at porn from a hotel room, a traveling spouse can FaceTime with their family at the end of the day.
Personally, technology allows me and my wife to follow through on a rule we set early in our marriage: We decided that if we’re going to make a purchase over a certain amount, we have to get permission from each other. Though the amount has changed over the years, it’s remained intentionally low so we never get too far apart on what we’re spending. I can’t imagine how well we would have stuck with our rule if we had to find pay phones and dial pagers. But now, all it takes is a simple text or a quick call on a device that’s always nearby.
How Can Couples Use Technology Positively?
With amazing tools at our fingertips, we experience a degree of connection and convenience unfathomable to previous generations. Chances are you might already be using technology to help your marriage without even realizing it. Here are a few more examples of small and simple ways a couple can fortify their relationship with technology:
1. Share passwords. Password management software makes it easy to give your spouse access to your complete roster of apps and websites so they have the ability to log in at any time. Set up a shared account on a service like 1Password or simply give your spouse your login information for your password management tool of choice. Beyond the practical convenience of having details like logins or rewards numbers at your fingertips, there’s built-in accountability when your spouse can view your social media private messages at any time.
2. Set up filters. Yes, technology can introduce temptation through questionable content, but it can also help eliminate it. Fight fire with fire by installing content-filtering software like X3Watch or Covenant Eyes. You might also consider installing ad-filtering plug-ins for your Web browser so suggestive ads don’t catch you off guard.