A big internet scandal has been making headlines lately, as Ashley Madison – a site dedicated entirely to helping married and attached people set up affairs – had a massive security breach where hackers gathered the identities, addresses, preferences, and other sensitive, secure data of millions of members.
The scandal, which threatens to expose tons of cheating spouses, is raising important questions about privacy, about online security, and even about morality. While those are certainly important to discuss as a society, for our goals of saving marriages, it also serves as an important reminder of the dangers the internet can pose to even the healthiest relationships.
The Ashley Madison site, and others like it, offers temptation and (supposed) anonymity that didn’t exist before the internet. With the incredible wealth of information out there, it’s no major surprise that these types of sites exist, and when people are feeling lonely, desperate, dissatisfied with the marriages, etc., the promise of something new only a few clicks away can be very difficult to pass up.
Even if it’s never as extreme as actually signing up for a site like Ashley Madison or following through with any kind of infidelity, the temptation itself is still damaging to your marriage. From porn sites to adult chats, all the way to Facebook, the sense of anonymity and privacy people feel behind the keyboard (usually by themselves) can lead to conversations/actions that take the focus away from the marriage and tempt people into infidelity (or at least emotional affairs). Even if there aren’t actual conversations or behavior, there’s still an endless supply of pictures to look at, fantasies to form, old flames to “check up on,” etc. – there are more temptations online today than couples have ever faced.
Now, not everything on the internet is threatening your marriage. There are plenty of benevolent sources of information, sites like StrongMarriageNow that are actually trying to help you make your relationship stronger, and even with social media, there are plenty of positives involved. The reality, however, is that the online world is changing the way we communicate and interact, and we need to keep ourselves in check in the face of this new kind of communication.
For one, any time you’re letting your mind wander away from your spouse and fantasizing about someone else, you’re hurting the marriage in your mind. It’s unavoidable, to some degree, but controlling where your thoughts wander and making the choice to focus your romantic energy on your spouse will certainly help.
It’s also worth mentioning, as we’ve learned with this Ashley Madison hacking scandal, that nothing online is ever truly private, and nothing ever truly disappears. Every message, every click, every action is registered and recorded somewhere, and can ultimately come back to bite you.
With all that’s available online, it’s far too easy (and tempting) to wander into territory that your spouse likely wouldn’t be happy about – and whether or not you’re aware of it, that territory also damages your happiness, your ability to connect with your spouse, and ultimately, the strength of your marriage.
With this in mind, be careful where you surf on the web, be aware of the temptations that certain sites may pose, and above all, keep your marriage in the front of your mind no matter what you’re doing. If you find yourself wandering down this path, stop yourself! Remember how easy it is to fall into temptation when you’re not even aware it’s happening.
The internet is a wonderful tool, an incredible source of information, and one of the most revolutionary inventions of the last century – but like any other form of mass media and communication, it has its ugly sides. You are in control of your own actions, no matter what tools you’re using – if you focus on your marriage above all else, temptation can’t get the best of you!