As I stated before in my previous posts, living in today’s Facebook world means that there are new challenges to any person who is going through a relationship struggle. It is especially difficult if you find yourself in a separation and/or divorce. Stresses are magnified and a complicated process can get even bumpier.
My previous posts about divorcing in a Facebook world:
- Part 1 – My Facebook Divorce
- Part 2 – Is it harder than dealing with the death of a loved one?
5 Simple Steps Forward
I want to offer simple steps that you can take in order to navigate this time in your life successfully and keep the collateral damage to a minimum.
#1: Take a Facebook Time Out
The best thing you can do early on in a relationship crisis is to take a deep breath and step away from the Facebook flood. Taking a bit of time and going offline is freeing. Go for more walks, more coffee visits, connect with people around you who aren’t just behind another screen.
It may save you from prematurely de-friending all of your in-laws or posting hate-filled/cryptic messages to your common connections.
#2 – Set a Facebook Curfew
Once you are ready to engage on Facebook again, be sure to set some boundaries about your online activity. Consider abandoning any late-night browsing. It can be costly.
Not only do you risk reacting to others and posting careless emotional comments, but you’ve probably ruined a good night’s sleep by not turning off your brain. Pick a reasonable hour and challenge yourself to go offline a good hour before laying your head on a pillow. A fresh mind and body are necessary to successfully walk this leg of life’s race.
#3 – Vent Elsewhere – There’s an App for that
Choose to talk through your emotions somewhere else other than your Facebook timeline. You may have a friend who is walking the journey with you, but they probably have their own lives and can’t be there every moment to hear the latest updates and daily frustrations.
I recommend downloading a journaling iPhone app like Momento. It let’s you easily record short thoughts/moments. You may not realize it at the time, but taking this simple step can keep your thoughts from circling.
From experience I can also tell you that looking back on those messages feels encouraging now because I can see how far I’ve come and I can thank God for very specific moments of provision & strength. It’s sometimes easy to forget the little things that God did in the middle of the storm.
#4: Find a Trusted Texting Companion
Another great solution to help with the daily unexpected emotions is to find a friend who is willing to carry some of that burden by simply texting you and receiving texts. Someone who doesn’t mind getting random rants, outbursts and awkward play-by-play announcements. Tell this friend that they don’t have to solve your problems. They just need to listen (so to speak) and be a support.
It’s really important, however, that they are a trusted, mature person. A pastor, mentor or even a fellow church-member. Definitely not an immediate family member who is too close to the situation. You don’t want to cause unnecessary resentment and anger.
#5: Play the movie
Finally, Dr. Henry Cloud, in his book 9 Things you simply must do to be successful in love and life, has a memorable way of explaining that successful people make decisions based on subsequent consequences. They “Play the movie,” meaning that they think about how today’s actions and words will play out tomorrow, next month, and in the years to come. Thinking about the effects of a decision help you prepare, and maybe avoid future challenges.
Think about how your angry post about or at your spouse/ex-spouse hinders any healthy steps toward healing or hurts your attempts at reconciliation. Think about how your children will view your character, or the emotional burden that you’ve put on them by dumping on their parent. What are you teaching them?
Remember: Think twice. Post once.
See also ‘Five Facebook no-no’s for Divorcing Couples’ by Time Magazine.
A last word: You can choose
One challenge I didn’t anticipate, while writing these posts is that I may be quickly judging those of you who have already made false starts on your journey. It’s obviously hard to take back words that have been posted on Facebook. So for you, I would say that today is a new day.
You can choose to forgive yourself for yesterday’s mistakes. You can choose to seek forgiveness from anyone you may have hurt. You can also choose to start fresh today.
A hidden blessing in life is that you always have a choice to live today better than yesterday. You can’t control other people and their reactions, but you can choose to be proactive and make your own steps forward. Today can be filled with fresh opportunities to change for the better or you can live defeated and reactionary to the negative world around you. It’s your choice.
My hope is that you will choose to take control of the one thing you are responsible for, yourself. So if you are walking through relationship challenges today or find yourself in a separation and or a divorce, then please consider taking right steps so that you can navigate this storm in your life.
The real last word comes from the ancient book of Philippians, found in the New Testament of the Bible.
Phil. 4:13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”