On May 19, Mark Zuckerberg married longtime girlfriend, Priscilla Chan, in a private ceremony the day after Facebook went public. She wore a traditional white wedding gown, and he even put on a suit for the occasion. As the Washington Post reported, fewer than 100 guests were in attendance, and they all arrived thinking they were celebrating Chan’s graduation from medical school.
Mark and Priscilla are famously low-key and grounded. For the past nine years, their relationship has grown right along with Facebook. In fact, Mark and Priscilla can use principles learned from Facebook to strengthen their personal relationships. Below are five Facebook-inspired ways that the couple can keep their marriage strong:
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1. Keep your relationship status public:
No one wants to be left wondering what about his or her relationship status. Experts agree that communicating your feelings is a vital component of a good relationship. Nothing is worse than coming home to a spouse who is angry but won’t tell you why. A person who withholds his feelings to manipulate a partner is similarly despicable. So whenever possible, Mark and Priscilla need to check in with each other and keep their feelings out in the open.
2. Don’t invite strangers into your inner circle:
When you’re married, you have to be each other’s biggest fan and keep any naysayers at arms’ length. Mark does this well. He recently gave ABC News a glowing report about how hard Priscilla worked to make sure her pediatric patients were well cared for: “She’ll see them getting sicker and then all of a sudden an organ becomes available and she comes home and her face is all lit up because someone’s life is going to better because of this.” Clearly, Mark is proud of his wife, and the feeling is mutual. No matter who you are, there are always going to be haters who criticize your spouse or your relationship. You just have to have enough sense not to “friend” them.
3. Don’t waste your time looking at other people’s profiles:
There is no such thing as a perfect relationship. Most people don’t like to air their issues out in the open, and serious problems can exist underneath the gloss of a perfectly touched-up family portrait. A friend of mine had long-term problems in her marriage. When it finally ended in divorce, people were stunned. “I had no idea there was a problem,” friends said repeatedly. This couple kept their problems private, but they were still there eating away at the relationship. So the next time your frenemy posts an Instagram photo of herself and her movie star husband vacationing in Italy, remember that appearances can be deceiving.
4. Block the games:
There are endless ways to waste your time on Facebook. Messages, comments, causes, alerts, Farmville–so many ways to become distracted. My personal nemesis is Words with Friends. The same holds true in a relationship. Whether it’s working long hours or going out excessively with the girls, anything that distracts a couple from their relationship is a threat. Priscilla knows this. The Daily Beast reports that she is mitigating the workaholic tendencies of her husband by laying down some ground rules for the relationship: 100 minutes of alone time and one date per week.
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5. “Like” everything:
It’s easy to get bogged down in what is wrong with a relationship instead of what is right. When your three-year-old clogs the toilet with a Barbie and the boss is making extreme demands at work, it’s hard to look at your partner with the same starry-eyed perspective as you did when you were dating. But keeping a positive attitude is one of the best things you can do for a relationship. As Norman Vincent Peale outlines in his famous book, The Power of Positive Thinking, the key to becoming a positive, happy person is to be aware of your thinking patterns and replace negative thinking with positive thinking. For example, instead of saying, “My husband is so messy,” look at the flip side: “I’m so glad my husband doesn’t bark at me about every little household chore.” Whenever possible, give your relationship a big thumbs-up.
Mark and Priscilla are off to a good start. The Facebook founder is famously low-key (still donning his hoodie from college), and his new wife is focused on humanitarian causes. As Priscilla’s former science teacher said to the Daily Mail, they want to change the world together and are blessed to have the resources to do it. With a few Facebook-inspired relationship reminders, this royal couple of the tech world can beat the odds and establish a secure foundation for a happy, healthy marriage.
Amy Osmond Cook, Ph.D. is a faculty associate at Arizona State University, where she teaches Communication and English classes. She is the publisher of Sourced Media Books and co-author of Hope After Divorce and Full Bloom: Cultivating Success. Amy and her husband, Jeff, have five children and look forward to welcoming baby #6 in April 2012. For more information about Amy, please visit amyosmondcook.com.