Serious Advice to Navigate Social Media to Help Your Marriage Or Survive a Divorce

“It’s amazing the wealth of information now at our fingertips in a divorce case… What would have once taken weeks of research to discover, if at all, can now be found in the click of a mouse.” Mr. Carrasco, attorney

My dear friend, Susan, has a daughter called Sheila, a beautiful young woman, a fitness buff with long dark hair who is a learning assistant in our district. She is 27 years old who married and divorced within two years after dating her ex-husband for two years before. You have to wonder if the heavy handed dominance of social networking somehow had something to do when both instant gratification and sudden disintegration can happen.

Certainly people are integrating their relationships with social media to reveal what they are doing, where they are doing it, and when it’s happening. Consequently, some serious advice is warranted as to how to navigate this overwhelming media stream both in a marriage and, especially, IF it comes to divorce to avoid serious complications because social media is ready evidence for prosecution.

Sheila’s story is common enough. She first met her boyfriend in the community fitness center and my recollection with any encounters always showed a happy, energetic couple with big smiles. They had a daughter now 4 years old. So they decided to get married in all the grand traditions of weddings … approximately 400 guests, solemn church vows, finely gowned bridesmaids, expensive wedding dress, five course banquet and little souvenirs to take home with interlinked heart stamps. The wedding party took wonderful garden photos to commemorate their commitment. They planned a honeymoon train and trek in Europe.

The marriage lasted two years and now divorce proceedings have finalized. So what happened?

As best as she could, Susan tried to explain what broke her daughter’s marriage that started to change when the couple moved into their house. The main premise is that the problem was something small and unintentional that then multiplied through the ugly disposition of social media.

Here is a possible script of innuendos that I heard:

The husband saw a couple messages from a stranger who liked the picture of his wife and daughter on Facebook.

“Why didn’t you block him?” he asked.

“I don’t know him … it doesn’t matter,” said Sheila.

“But he posted two comments. Why didn’t you let him know you were married?”

“It’s on my profile.”

“But you should have deleted him. Why didn’t you mention me? You don’t have any pictures of us. l can’t help but feel excluded. By the way, he sure looks like the guy you used to date. Are you trying to keep secrets from me?”

But the flicker of jealousy had sparked and only spread with more distrust and heated arguments to check her cell phone and inbox. He started to spend more time sitting in his den for longer periods of time seeming to want to avoid real time communication with his wife and daughter. At some point a gaming addiction appeared.

Sadly, over the past few years, more consistent studies have shown that individuals who frequently access social media sites are more likely to experience disconnection and conflict with their relationships and marriages.

Also, divorce lawyers are increasingly using social networking as evidence in divorce actions. According to Huffington Post, a survey of 2,000 married people in Britain indicated that a spouse’s questionable social media activity played a part in one out of seven divorce filings.

Lawyers now investigate postings on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social networking sites as evidence. For example, posts and photos depicting one partner’s social life could come across to a judge as showing a disregard for responsibility, excessive drug or alcohol use, or other behavior that might impair that person’s interests when it comes to negotiating alimony, child custody, or divisions of assets.

Before the Divorce … ways to help social media intercourse

Take some serious time to discuss the dangers of social media in a relationship setting with your partner. Try to agree to appropriate limits on use, avoid snooping on one another, and make sure that you spend more time interacting in person than monitoring what the rest of the world is doing. Avoid frequent contacts with a unfamiliar persons.

Do not share personal marital problems with online friends. Complaints bout your spouse should never be shared on social media sites.

Do not expect your posts to always be private. Assume that more people can view your posts than you think that can appear on many other unknown pages of other individuals, as well. Online security is often difficult and ineffective.

Ask your friends not to post embarrassing comments or your photos online. Be wary of any friends who might have a motive to leak compromising information.

Don’t try to keep secrets because you think your partner might get upset … this can only do more harm than good. If you receive a message or friend request from someone you were previously involved with, tell your partner so you can come up with a plan of action together.

During the Divorce … ways to protect from litigation

Censor your social media activity and do not post anything that might be an issue in court such as information or photographs of another date or drinking alcohol.

Change your privacy settings so what you post can only be seen by your direct friends or followers, and remember that private messaging isn’t really private. Disable tagging in photos.

It’s foolish to create a profile on an online dating site before a divorce is finalized. It could be interpreted as potential cheating or the profile may say something different as what is said in court.

It’s not a good idea, tempting as it may be, to delete your account and scrub your online presence because if divorce proceedings begin, then social media becomes evidence. Deleting accounts is actually a destruction of evidence and can cause a lawyer to be sanctioned.

Social media is a force to be reckoned with, sometimes without necessary education. Certainly, married couples couples don’t have to eliminate social networking from their activities and share family enjoyment. However, sometimes, by taking certain steps together and setting appropriate boundaries and guidelines, partners can increase trust within the relationship.

Most of all, just communicate with your partner. Talk about your feelings and concerns and find common understanding. At all costs, stay as far away as possible from that monstrosity called DIVORCE that readily destroys lives for a lifetime, especially children.

Annemarie Berukoff

Retired teacher — wisdom of Timely Tools for Changes: self-franchise internet marketing, social media attacks, ecology

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