Let’s face it. Without the Internet, many happy couples wouldn’t be together today. Social media and online dating sites make it possible to connect with people around the world who have similar interests and want the same things in a relationship.
Unfortunately, social media can also drive jealousy, misunderstanding, and conflict in a relationship. It even plays a significant role in many divorces. A survey from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers revealed some surprising statistics, including the fact that more than 80 percent of lawyers report an increase in cases using social media as evidence for divorce.
Social Media and Divorce
When a marriage falls apart, there are usually plenty of contributing factors and missteps along the way. Unfortunately, social media has the potential to exacerbate problems that may already exist while possibly creating new ones as well. Let’s take a look at a few areas where social media could negatively impact a relationship:
- Lack of attention. Social media is designed to keep you scrolling, often stealing time and attention from the people who matter most in your life. If you devote more time and energy to your online presence than to your spouse, your marriage is likely to suffer.
- Mental health. It’s no secret that in certain instances social media can wreak havoc on your mental health. If you’re not taking care of your own mental and physical health, you’re not bringing your best to the marriage.
- Jealousy. Social media can trigger jealousy in various ways. You may be comparing your relationship to those of your friends, or you may be upset over the attention your spouse generates with his or her posts. These feelings can lead you down an unhealthy path of online snooping, which only fuels jealousy and chips away at trust in the relationship.
- Infidelity. Today it’s easier than ever to find a connection outside the marriage, and it may be even easier to hide an affair. This is especially tempting on social media where you’re exposed to edited versions of other people and what often appears as an idyllic lifestyle.
What’s worse, many people turn to social media to further escape these problems rather than deal with them.
Healthy Marriages in a Digital Age
A divorce can’t be blamed solely on social media. Couples choose how they will behave both online and offline. But if you’re worried that social media could harm your marriage, talk to your spouse about it. Here are some questions to consider:
- What’s okay to share with the digital world, and what should be kept private?
- When do “likes” and “comments” go from friendly to flirty?
- What is an acceptable amount of time to spend on social media?
- Should spouses share their social media accounts and passwords with each other?
The same set of boundaries will not work for every couple. What’s important is that you and your spouse are on the same page and agree to hold each other accountable. Above all, prioritize each other and the life you’re building together. If it feels like social media is getting in the way, a marriage counselor can help you put things in perspective and set healthy boundaries.
Dr. David Lowenstein is a Columbus, Ohio-based psychologist with more than 35 years of experience. He conducts individual, family, and group therapy sessions in his German Village office and also via telehealth. Dr. Lowenstein is also available for expert forensic testimony, and for educational workshops and presentations. He is frequently called upon as an expert source for print, radio, and broadcast media. Contact Dr. Lowenstein at Lowenstein & Associates, 691 South Fifth Street, Columbus, Ohio, 43206, or call 614.443.6155 or 614.444.0432.