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Subtle Distraction, Big Impact!
An individual survey study revealed that couples who do not use social media are 11% happier in their marriages than couples that do. A recent study comparing state-by-state divorce rates to per-capita Facebook accounts found that a 20% increase in Facebook enrollment was associated with divorce rate increases of up to 4.32%. Many studies have been conducted over the past several years to determine the effects of social media on relationships and marriage.
These studies only focused on Facebook. Can you imagine if the effects of all social media were analyzed such as Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tik Tok? Now add in everything else that is accessible at your fingertips such as Pinterest, YouTube, Netflix, gaming, blogs. In addition, take into account apps that make working from your phone available 24/7 such as email, texting, LinkedIn, Zoom, Google Doc. The list goes on and on.
Today, 1 in 3 divorces start with online affairs.
Easy access to social media via phone or laptop can also mean discreet access which can lead to destructive behaviors. Today, 1 in 3 divorces start with online affairs. Studies show that 30% of Tinder users are married. Dating websites like Ashley Madison, which caters to married persons, have upwards of 130 million users worldwide per month. 40 million Americans say they regularly visit porn sites. In addition, online gambling has reached an all-time high.
Understanding social media’s potential adverse effects on marriage and relationships are critical.
Since the start of the Covid pandemic, social media usage has spiked, boasting an increase of over 10% in just one year. With so much time spent surfing the internet or scrolling on social media, is there adequate time available for connecting with your spouse?
Let’s spell out the POTENTIAL DANGERS of social media that can lead to conflict, deep issues, jealousy, infidelity, or even divorce:
Distraction from spending time with your spouse.
- Spending time on social media can be a distraction from spending time interacting with your spouse. When your eyes are on your phone, your attention is off your spouse. Such behavior may start innocently but can quickly become a compulsive habit that you may be unaware of. This sends a message to your partner that they are not valued.
Inaccurate depiction of reality.
- Viewing content that is cherry-picked or staged and is ultimately not an accurate depiction of reality can cause a spouse to long for unrealistic expectations in themselves, their spouse, or their own marriage. Ultimately this unmet expectation leads to disappointment, discontentment, and even depression. Constantly faced with others’ happy marriages and exciting lives causes unhealthy comparisons that can lead to jealousy, resentment, and frustration.
A spouse may be tempted to reach out to old relationships or seek out new ones.
- They may feel that their online relationship is more fulfilling than their marriage, especially during difficult times. Because of the ease of secrecy, this may lead to extreme dissatisfaction in their marriage or emotional or physical infidelity. Lack of trust or extreme jealously may cause one spouse to feel the need to monitor the other which can cause conflict and significant marital distress.
Time spent on social media can increase stress in a marriage if a spouse has difficulty emotionally separating from the content.
- One spouse may become overly concerned, frustrated, or highly consumed with certain issues and bring them into their marriage relationship. Or they may publicly respond to these topics in ways that their partner disagrees with.
Each spouse may have different ideas of what they feel comfortable sharing publicly.
- It may be the way one spouse is depicting the family or photos that the other feels are not acceptable or appropriate. One spouse may not honor their partner’s concerns when posting on social media. These concerns can turn into conflict and can cause great hurt in a marriage.
According to Focus on the Family, “Your marriage…has to take priority over every other connection with every other human being.” Connecting with social media on various platforms can take priority over your spouse and your marriage if you do not have safeguards in place.
Here are 4 EASY GUIDELINES to help you maintain a healthy social media presence in your marriage:
Set ground rules.
Talk together about the potential slippery slopes of social media. Come up with a list of do’s and don’ts that you can both agree on. Do you want to limit the amount of time on social media? Make certain websites off-limits?
2. Don’t compare, period.
If you choose to engage in social media, you and your partner agree that comparing yourselves, each other or your marriage to what you see on the internet is very harmful and therefore not allowed.
3. Have an open-door policy.
Trust and accountability are vital and transparency is the best way to facilitate this. Create a system where both partners have access to each other’s accounts. Share contacts with one another. Be open about interactions and allow each other to ask questions.
4. Establish boundaries.
What information are you comfortable with or not comfortable with sharing on social media? Are there friends or contacts that are a concern to you? Express your needs honestly and set boundaries that prevent future conflict.
Social media can be a helpful and enjoyable outlet. It can bridge a gap, connect people, provide information and even save time. But if left unchecked and uncontrolled, it can cause damage to and even destroy a marriage. Having safeguards in place can protect your marriage from the social media monster!
How have you tamed the social media monster in your marriage? Comment below!