The Effect of Social Media on Marriages & Divorce

Close up of folder on phone that has Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter app

Social media has dramatically transformed the way we communicate, connect, and even love. It has offered an unprecedented level of connectivity, enabling us to maintain contact with people from all corners of the globe. However, as with any technology, it has its downsides. This article explores how social media impacts marriages and divorce.  

Social Media: A Catalyst for Divorce? 

Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have changed our communication dynamics. We no longer need to wait for letters or even emails; messages are now instant. Photos and life updates can be shared in real time, creating an environment of constant connection. 

However, this constant connectivity can interfere with intimate relationships, particularly marriages. A study by the Pew Research Center found that 25% of cell phone owners in a marriage or partnership felt that their spouse was distracted by their cell phone when they were together. This digital distraction can lead to feelings of neglect and dissatisfaction, straining the relationship. 

The excessive use of social media can also contribute to marital discord. Social media offers an easy platform to reconnect with old flames or strike up new connections with strangers. Many studies have found that individuals in committed relationships who stay in touch with exes over social media are more likely to cheat on their partners.  

Infidelity is a leading cause of divorce because of its impact on trust between a couple. Even if an affair is only emotional or virtual, it can negatively affect a marriage. In addition to affecting trust between a couple, communication, another cornerstone of a healthy relationship, can also suffer.  

The spouse engaged in the affair may become distant, secretive, or defensive, leading to a breakdown in open and honest dialogue. This lack of communication can create a chasm between the couple, making it difficult to address problems and work on strengthening the relationship. 

Intimacy, both emotional and physical, can be severely compromised as well. The spouse having the affair might redirect their emotional energy and attention toward their new interest, leaving their partner feeling neglected and unwanted. This can lead to feelings of loneliness, rejection, and low self-esteem in the other spouse. 

Excessive social media use doesn't just provide opportunities for infidelity; it can also negatively impact users' psychological and emotional well-being and their self-image. Research has shown a correlation between high social media usage and feelings of loneliness, depression, and anxiety.  

Negative self-image often leads to low self-esteem. When one partner struggles with these feelings, it can create an emotional distance as the person may withdraw from their spouse or express their insecurities in harmful ways.  

Similarly, mental health issues like anxiety and depression can strain a marriage. These conditions can lead to mood swings, irritability, and a lack of interest in activities once enjoyed together, disrupting the harmony of the relationship. The spouse without these issues may also feel overwhelmed or helpless, leading to tension and misunderstanding. 

Safeguarding Your Relationship 

Despite these challenges, it's important to remember that social media isn't inherently bad. It's how we use it that determines its impact on our lives and relationships. Here are some tips to harness the power of social media positively: 

  • Set boundaries. Agree on 'device-free' times where you focus on each other without distractions.  

  • Communicate. If you feel neglected due to your partner's social media use, express your feelings calmly and suggest solutions. 

  • Be respectful. Before sharing anything about your relationship online, discuss it with your partner. 

  • Use it for good. Share positive moments, express affection, and stay connected when apart. 

Social Media: Evidence in Divorce Cases  

Social media plays a significant role in divorce proceedings, primarily by acting as a possible reservoir of evidence. In the last decade, more and more divorce attorneys have reported a significant increase in the number of cases using social networking evidence.   

Everything from Facebook posts to Instagram photos and tweets can be used in court. Lawyers often turn to these platforms to gather evidence that could support their client's case or undermine the opposition. For instance, if a spouse claims financial hardship but posts pictures of expensive vacations or purchases, it could contradict their claim and affect alimony or child support decisions. 

Innocuous posts can be misconstrued or taken out of context, painting an unfavorable picture. For instance, a picture of you enjoying a night out with friends could be framed as irresponsible behavior or neglect of parental responsibilities, affecting child custody outcomes.  

Here are some general tips on using social media during (and after) your divorce:  

  • Check (and update, if necessary) your privacy settings. Ensure your profiles are set to private, limiting who can see your posts. Regularly review and update your privacy settings. 

  • Think before you post. Always think through the potential implications before posting anything. If you're unsure, it's best not to post at all. 

  • Avoid oversharing. Try not to share details about your divorce proceedings, as these could be used against you. Also, avoid posting about new relationships and finances until your divorce is finalized. 

  • Don’t fight with trolls (who make negative comments). Ignore or block individuals who post negative comments or try to provoke you. Don't engage in online arguments. 

  • Avoid posting content that may be considered inappropriate. Posting inappropriate or offensive content can have severe consequences, particularly if child custody is being decided. 

Experienced Counsel for Your Divorce Case 

At Shaw Family Law, we provide comprehensive guidance for clients going through a divorce. Collecting evidence is a crucial part of this process, and in today's digital age, social media posts often play a pivotal role. Our team understands the nuances of using such information to support your claims effectively. We are adept at identifying relevant posts, comments, and interactions that could be impactful in your case. 

Contact our team online or via phone at (205) 259-7650 to schedule an initial consultation.  

Share To: