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Why a spouse's Facebook usage may spell trouble for a marriage

Within the last decade, the rise of social media websites has forever changed how people communicate. Gone are the days of letter writing or even phone calls. Today, individuals young and old readily communicate via text message, instant chat and through social media websites.

Social media websites like Twitter and Facebook have been credited with engendering revolutions and uncovering crimes and injustices. However, when it comes to marriage, a spouse's use of these types of websites may lead to marital discord and, in some cases, even divorce. So say researchers who conducted a study that is published in this month's issue of Computers in Human Behavior.

For the study, researchers reviewed divorce and Facebook account data from 43 states. Consistently, the data showed that a 20 percent increase in Facebook users corresponded with a divorce rate increase of 2.2 percent. While researchers don't claim Facebook use causes divorce, they do point to a "positive correlation" between the site's use and an increase in divorce.

When you think about it, the study's findings make sense. Spouses who are unhappy in a marriage are more likely to be disengaged and therefore have time to spend on Facebook. Likewise these individuals may be more likely to reconnect with old flames via social media or rely upon their virtual friends for advice and support. Additionally, today information and photographs contained in social media accounts are readily used as evidence in divorce hearings and negotiations as well as in child custody disputes.

Tennessee residents who are planning to divorce would be wise to closely monitor and even scale back their social media activity. In some cases, information and photographs posted to a Facebook or Twitter account can prove to be damaging while going through a divorce.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "Does Facebook break up marriages?" Quentin Fottrell, July 13, 2014