social media phone and computerIs social media affecting your marriage? It isn’t unusual to see people using their cell phones to check social media.  They update their Facebook status while they wait in line at the bank, Instagram their dinner while at a restaurant, or compose a quick tweet while out with friends.  While social media is a wonderful tool for connecting with friends and staying entertained in the waiting room, recent studies are showing that it is also contributing to divorce rates and triggering many other relationship issues.

The statistics.
Surveys and studies have been conducted in numerous countries to discover the link between social media use and breakups.  Divorce-Online UK surveyed British divorce lawyers in 2012[1], looking for a link between social media and their divorce cases.  While this was purely anecdotal evidence, the lawyers surveyed pegged one out of three divorces on social media.  The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers conducted a similar study[2] in 2010, finding that most lawyers noted a significant increase in the use of evidence pulled from social media accounts.

The problem.
As entertaining as they can be, social media accounts provide an avenue to reconnect with past lovers.  While sending messages to a former flame may seem harmless, it could lead to emotional cheating, which is just as significant as physically cheating.  Spouses who are already unhappy in their relationship may turn to social media for either support or escape, escalating the deterioration of their marriage as they vent to high school friends instead of their partners.  Often, one partner will notice an increase in social media activity by the other.  This leads to suspicions and may even cause one partner to spy on the other’s account(s), which is likely to erode whatever trust may have been lingering.

What to do?
Most relationship problems can be solved by communication, and social media isn’t any different.  Discuss social media boundaries with your spouse, and decide what works best for the two of you.  Is it alright to be friends with ex partners?  How much time should be spent on social media?  Some couples have joint accounts to avoid any question of inappropriate behaviour.  Make a conscious effort to spend face-to-face time with your partner instead of scrolling through your Facebook feed, perhaps even scheduling offline time each day.

While the statistics may seem staggering, there is no doubt that the use of social media affects most relationships in some form.  It doesn’t mean, however, that you must completely disconnect in order to save your marriage.  Positive use of social media requires a healthy amount of respect and trust for your partner.  And don’t forget to put down the phone or tablet and nurture your relationship face to face.

Related: Social Media & Divorce (video);
Social Media and Divorce (article)

[1] http://www.hg.org/article.asp?id=27803
[2] http://www.aaml.org/about-the-academy/press/press-releases/e-discovery/big-surge-social-networking-evidence-says-survey-