Articles for Married Couples

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    Facebook and Divorce

    From America to Indonesia, the headlines read, "Facebook is Causing 20 Percent of Today’s Divorces."

    “When I heard the statistic, I did some research to find its source,” says Jason Krafsky. Krafsky co-authored Facebook and Your Marriage with his wife, Kelli. “It turns out that an online divorce firm in the UK sent out a press release stating that Facebook was cited in 1-in-5 divorce petitions. What got lost in the hundreds of articles it sparked was the research came from only their divorce petition database.”

    To add fuel to the fire, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers surveyed its 1,600 members. They claimed that 81 percent of the nation’s top divorce attorneys saw an increase in cases using social networking evidence during the past five years. Despite the media hype, you didn't hear the whole truth there, either. In reality, not all divorce attorneys completed the survey - just AAML members.

    “There were additional pieces that created even more confusion,” Krafsky says. “Suffice it to say this was like a big game of worldwide gossip and by the time the big media guns picked up the story the headline read, ‘Facebook Blamed for One in Five Divorces in U.S.’ The truth is, there is no valid research, study or collection of data at this point that accurately reveals how many divorces have been caused by Facebook. Until someone does legitimate research, trying to attach a number or percentage to what is happening only fuels an urban myth that is blazing out of control.”

    Clearly, Facebook impacts relationships of all kinds. Some marriages are breaking apart due to Facebook-related activity. Some married people use Facebook to live out their midlife crisis. For others, unexpected feelings and emotions when friending or interacting with an old flame catches them off guard. It can happen to the strongest of marriages.

    “I remember the day my wife walked into the room and said, ‘Guess who I just friended on Facebook?’ I asked who, and she said, ‘My first love.'

    "There was something about that statement that just hit me wrong," Krafsky shares. "I didn’t think Kelli would intentionally do anything inappropriate, but something in my gut said this wasn’t a good thing. It was shortly thereafter that we had a discussion about boundaries on Facebook to protect our marriage. We decided to unfriend past exes. This scenario prompted the writing of our book.”

    The Krafskys warn people that if you don’t have good boundaries, social networking sites are dangerous places to hang out.

    “Couples need to talk face-to-face and set up guidelines for their online time to protect their relationship from cyber-threats,” Krafsky says. “It is not enough to have good intentions. Most affairs do not start because someone says to himself, ‘I think I’ll have an affair.’ They start out very innocently.

    "Don’t fool yourself. You cannot friend an old flame and not take a trip down memory lane, thinking about what you did together in high school. We never forget that adolescent romantic love. Limit your time online and focus on taking your marriage relationship to the next level. While Facebook may not be the cause of 20 percent of all divorces, what some people are unknowingly doing through Facebook is undermining their marriage and putting their family at risk.”

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    4 Ways You Can Protect Your Marriage From Social Media

    Does media use really impact marital quality?

    This question has been swirling around in the minds of many for more than a decade. According to attorneys, the use of social media impacts divorce cases now more than ever before. Counselors also say it is increasingly common for couples to argue about media use in a marriage counseling session.

    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, decided to examine the issue. They 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 keep media use from harming your marital quality?

    • Make time for face-to-face conversation. Focusing on your phone, television, Facebook, etc. takes away from truly focusing on each other. While media can be used to communicate with your spouse, there is 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 and 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. Be accountable to each other.

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