4 Ways You Can Protect Your Marriage From Social Media

Don't let a screen distract you from your most important relationship.
By Julie Baumgardner
August 17, 2017

Does media use really impact marital quality? And what can you do to protect your marriage from social media if it does?

These questions have been swirling around for years now. According to attorneys, social media use impacts divorce cases now more than ever before. Counselors also say it’s increasingly common for couples to argue about media use in counseling sessions.

You only have to look around to see how media use impacts marriages.

Next time you eat out, watch as couples sit together at a table. Chances are, both of them will on their device instead of talking to each other.

Jeffery Dew and Sarah Tulane, colleagues at Utah State University, studied more than 1,300 randomly selected married couples. Then, they measured their use of television, video games and social networking websites such as Facebook and Twitter. The couples rated their marital quality in terms of happiness in different areas, how often they fought and how likely they thought they were to get divorced.

The findings showed that the more husbands used social media, the worse they both felt about their marriage – and both spouses reported more conflict. Women whose husbands spent more time on social media reported lower levels of marital happiness, and they both perceived higher levels of divorce likelihood.

It is interesting that the husband’s use of social media appeared to impact marital quality more than the wife’s. Dew and Tulane speculated that, since women use communication to build their relationships more than men do, they see it as just another tool to communicate and connect. However, men’s use of social networking sites may violate social norms and expectations about their behavior, which could lead to marital issues.

How can you protect your marriage from social media?

  • Make time for face-to-face conversation. Focusing on your phone, television, Facebook, etc. takes away from focusing on each other. While you can use media to communicate with your spouse, there’s no substitute for face-to-face conversation.
  • Pay attention to how much time you spend playing video games individually. When spouses disagreed about how much time the other was spending gaming, marital quality decreased.
  • Ask each other about how media use affects your relationship. You may need to take a break from media. Invest that time elsewhere.
  • Establish media-free zones. Too much of anything can be a bad thing. Decide together if certain times or places in your home (like the bedroom) are off-limits for media use. Hold each other accountable.

Sitting beside each other doesn’t mean you are spending quality time together, especially if you both are in your own worlds on media. Take steps to ensure that media doesn’t distract you from the most important relationship in your life.

Looking for more resources? Watch this episode of JulieB TV for an in-depth look on this topic!

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

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