If you spend any amount of time on social media, you’ve witnessed the couples who communicate with each other via mushy Facebook posts even though they’re sitting across the table from each other at dinner or sitting together on the couch. This activity might seem ridiculous to those who don’t engage in it, but a new study implies that the more similar a couples’ social media habits are, the happier and more stable they are likely to be.
This news, however, comes with caveats. “Examining data from over 1,300 married couples from across the country, we found that husbands who reported greater use of social networking websites like Facebook also reported more conflict and lower marital stability than husbands who reported less use,” says Dr. Jeffrey Dew, asocial professor in the Department of Family, Consumer, and Human Development at Utah State University. The wives concurred – when the fellas are online too much, women aren’t happy about it at all.
Which Came First? Facebook or Marital Discord?
The Dew study, which was recently published in the Journal of Family Economic Issues, found that wives typically use social media more often than their husbands. This imbalance doesn’t necessarily correlate with marital discord. However, things do start to fall apart when the fellas are tweeting, etc. more often than their better half.
Recognizing the problem is half the battle, however, and if both husbands and wives notice that the husband’s increased social media usage is causing friction in the marriage, wouldn’t it be advisable to cut back?
For so many people though, social media is where they connect with others and feel connected to the world – or maybe they’re just nosy – but this is a question of the chicken or the egg. Is a man on Facebook often because something is missing in his marriage and he’s seeking to fill the gaps with online interactions? Or is his marriage feeling the burn because he can’t pull himself away from another post about his best bud’s latest grilling feat or opines about the big game?
“It may be the case that husbands who perceived their relationship to be unstable were using social networking for longer periods of time to compensate or cope with the instability… seeking to strengthen positive relationships with friends online or develop new positive relationships (including romantic relationships) with other individuals,” the study said.
Beyond Social Media: Let’s Talk Gaming
What about couples who love a good game of Grand Theft Auto, or some fun with the Wii? “When it came to video gaming, it was not who engaged in more gaming,” says Dew. “Rather, what mattered most for marriage was the difference in gaming between the wives and husbands. The greater the difference between the spouses, the lower the happiness and stability and the greater the conflict both spouses reported.” So, just like social media, if you game together you’re more likely to stay together?
Perhaps then, the answer is to learn how to get your gaming on for the love of your sweetie. “I had expected greater gender differences,” Dew said. “I thought that maybe it would be more of a problem the more men engaged in gaming, rather than the differences in gaming being what mattered. But I suppose this shows how some couples might use gaming as a mutually enjoyed activity.”
Playing video games together may limit the amount of time each other spends doing this activity, or you simply will enjoy each other’s company doing the same activity. For those who just can’t get on board with the hand controls or accept their significant other’s video game addiction, don’t be surprised if conflict ensues. (Some couples even use social media prenups to preserve their union.)
Pulling the Plug on Social Media – and Your Marriage
Ultimately, the researchers remind us that the problems which arise as a result of social media use and gaming could very well be the result of a low-quality marriage. If you’ve come to the point where your marriage isn’t getting any better, no matter how little social media usage or how many shared interests, and it’s time to contact an experienced Michigan divorce attorney, contact Michigan Divorce Help in Mt. Clemens, MI, to schedule your no-cost initial interview today.