Social media can be a wonderful way to communicate with family and friends. But if you’re unhappy in your relationship, it can deepen your discontentment and may even lead to some less-than-wise actions. For this reason, Manhattan divorce attorney and author, James J. Sexton, cautions, “If you’re vaguely unhappy with your relationship or marriage, and especially if you’re more than vaguely unhappy with it: Stay away from Facebook.”
In his latest book (due out April 10, 2018), If You’re in My Office It’s Already Too Late: A divorce lawyer’s guide to staying together, Sexton makes a strong case for steering clear of social media. Here are his three top reasons to close down your Facebook account if you’re at a crossroads with your marriage:
- Facebook Creates Temptation:“Facebook is the single greatest breeding ground ever for infidelity,” Sexton contends. “If I had to estimate I would say I get two or three new cases per week that feature infidelity that started or was made easier to perpetuate by Facebook. Who knew one platform could cause so much chaos?” Having an affair — or even a flirtation — while you’re married muddies the waters in more ways than one. Your dangerous liaison may be exhilarating and exciting, but it’s also distracting you from the real problems at hand. If you’re daydreaming about a long-ago romance, it’s probably time to haul yourself (and your spouse too) into a therapist’s office to explore the real root of your discontent.
- Facebook is Admissible Evidence. Even if you don’t post a thing, if someone else tags you in a photo or mentions you in a post, your actions have been documented for the world to see and scrutinize. Sexton sums up the legal concerns in his “Facebook Miranda Rights”: “You have the right to refrain from using this service to document where you are, what you are doing, what you are spending money on, and whom you are spending time with. If you give up that right, anything you post (or anywhere you check in or any photos you get tagged in) can and will be used against you (by me) in a court of law. You have the right to try to delete things from your page once your divorce has started, but I can assure you that my staff captured screen shots of everything before you were even served with the divorce papers. You have the right to unfriend your spouse but trust me, some of your “friends” like your spouse more than they like you, and they’re more than willing to grant us continued access even if you block your spouse. You have the right to choose what you post, but remember: Other people can tag you in photos, mention you in their comments, and give access to anyone who might be looking for a solid trail to follow if we want to track your movements and/or spending. Oh: And Facebook complies with properly issued subpoenas from divorce courts.”
- Facebook is a Facade. When you’re going through a tough time, chances are it’s not going to make you feel better to peruse your cousin’s honeymoon photos from Italy, or your sister-in-law’s posts about their 20th anniversary party. It’s quite alright to “hide” your obnoxiously happy, perfect friends from your feed. And it’s even more healthy to simply log out off Facebook for the duration or even close your account. Taking a hiatus from social media might even prompt you to get out in the real world more often.
It’s human nature (for some of us more than others) to observe and compare. But before you become convinced that the rest of the world is engaged in happy, harmonious marriages, remember this saying, “Don’t judge your insides by someone else’s outsides.” This a simple, pithy axiom holds a lot of truth.
And here’s where Sexton may be wrong. Just because you meet with an divorce attorney, doesn’t mean it’s too late to save your marriage. A skillful lawyer can help you sort through whether or not divorce is in your best interest. Before you run headlong into divorce, it might be time for a reality check. Take a break from social media. Ask yourself some tough questions about why you’re feeling discontented. Then schedule some face-to-face time with a therapist, marriage counselor, spiritual advisor, or family law attorney to explore your concerns and options.