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Doing Life Together

telephone-586268_1920Social networking sites that connect former flames and allow users to make new friends online are being blamed for an increasing number of marital breakdowns. Talk to any divorce lawyer and he or she will tell you that the popularity of sites like Facebook and other on-line chat rooms and sites are tempting unhappy people to cheat. In fact, more and more of these sites are being used as legal evidence of affairs in divorce cases. For instance, when a sexual chat takes place on-line, it can be traced and retrieved by software designed to serve as an electronic private eye. Photos of spouses with their lovers posted online provide proof of an affair. And, publicly accessed text posts declaring love and affection can be used against a person who denies online involvement.

Mark Keenan, Managing Director of Divorce-Online says this about divorce petitions, “I had heard from my staff that there were a lot of people saying they had found out things about their partners on Facebook and I decided to see how prevalent it was. I was really surprised to see 20 per cent of all the petitions containing references to Facebook.” [1]Divorce Online also reported that in 2011, a third of all divorce filings had the word “Facebook” in them. Overall, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers confirms that the use of social networking content is on the rise in divorce proceedings.

Not only are social media public, but easy to access and laced with opportunity. Infidelity is often opportunity driven. Thus, the temptation to boost your ego, feel appreciated and satisfy temptation takes little convincing from those hurting in relationship. A 2008 Pew Internet and American Life Project survey found about one in five adults uses Facebook to flirt[2]. Those posts that become too intimate or tantalizing can quickly transform a trusted partner to a tempted one. Fast and easy emotional availability and regular communication with former friends and lovers can lead to affairs, both emotional and physical.

Marital breakdowns can begin when a spouse is sexually dissatisfied, has low self-esteem or unresolved personal issues and doesn’t seek help or turn to his or her spouse for help. Distressed marriages create vulnerable people who can choose to seek happiness outside the marriage. As marital researcher, John Gottman, reminds us, turning away from your spouse in times of trouble, brings trouble. It creates a crack in the sound relationship house. Relying on a person of the opposite sex, who is not a spouse, for daily support, can lead to intimacy. The rush associated with the attention feels good and can be addictive. Once you give in to the temptation, you steps can be traced! So the next time you think about cheating, maybe the idea that can easily be caught will cause you to pause and reconsider working on your marriage.

[1] Quote: http://thetechjournal.com/internet/facebook-is-the-new-cause-of-divorce.xhtml.

[2] Home Broadband Adoption 2008, Pew Internet & American Life Project, Washington, DC, 2008, J.B. Horrigan.

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