Divorce rates rise, curiosity and Facebook major culprits

Anissa Ford's picture

Money and intimacy are losing their status as the top reasons for divorce in the U.S. Studies say Facebook is responsible for one in five divorces in the United States.

U.S. divorce rates are already high. 2009 CDC stats say that 3.4 of every 1,000 people are divorced and that 6.8 out every 1,000 people are married.

That means almost half of all US marriages end in divorce.

So what does Facebook have to do with it?

And what, if anything happens to those extramarital relationships that developed on Facebook?

Studies on Facebook divorces are still very young. Lawyers began noticing the trend back in 2008 when spouses turned over Facebook and Twitter activity as evidence in divorce, child support, custody, and alimony proceedings.

Last week, Loyola University issued a press release warning married couples to protect their marriages from Facebook. Studies say that 1 in every 5 marriages are ruined by Facebook.

For people who have gone through bitter divorces without the help of Facebook, the warning from Loyola University is silly.

Experienced divorce'es think telephones and secret rendezvouses are just as responsible for divorce because those activities are higher forms of socializing that may inevitably lead to intimacy.

But the experts say the hologram like connections formed on Facebook aren't that simple. A spouse should know that internet activity is crossing the line when the interactions with old friends and former love interests are done in stealth.

Some experts think that the divorces as result of Facebook are not intentional affairs. They say that married couples do not purposefully set out on Facebook to begin extramarital affairs. In many cases, even in healthy marriages, the Facebook connections that cross the line begin with mere curiosity.

"A lot of it is curiosity," said Steven Kimmons, a licensed clinical psychologist at Loyola University. Kimmons said a spouse sees an old friend or someone that they dated and decide to say 'hello' and catch up on where that person is and how they're doing."

That seems fine and normal. People meet, catch up, talk. So what's the problem?

The problem is that marriages stay healthy with emotional availability and emotional intimacy. If a spouse is emotionally available to an internet friend, that likely weakens his or her emotional connection with the spouse.

“If I’m talking to one person five times a week versus another person one time a week, you don’t need a fancy psychological study to conclude that I’m more likely to fall in love with the person I talk to five times a week because I have more contact with that person,” Kimmons said.

Experts caution against Facebook chatting with old acquaintances in similar manners that they caution against the office spouse relationship crossing over into adultery. Overall, experts accept the "office spouse" phenomena. The office spouse is the male or female at the office that an individual does the most sharing with. The office spouse relationship is never physically intimate but they are mutual and emotionally intimate office relationships encouraged by professionals because they are not expected to lead to romance.

Furthermore, office spouse relationships are hard to avoid and people need their jobs. The flipside of the Facebook divorce rate argument is the suggestion that people really don't need Facebook and married couples should avoid it altogether, especially if they went to high school or college. Or had a romantic relationship before they got married.

Dr. Simmons says that couples can be very specific in their bio and background information about what they are looking for when they begin to social network. Social networking is a great way for single people to meet ideal and compatible dating interests. The same lure of meeting others who may be more compatible than a spouse exists for married people on social networks as well.

Three years ago, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers said that nearly 80 percent of lawyers reported using social networking sites as evidence in divorce cases.

The rate of divorce in America for first marriages is at 41 percent. 60 percent of second marriages end in divorce and 73 percent of third marriages end in divorce.

Couples between the ages of 20 and 24 have the highest divorce rates. 38.8 percent of men in this age group undergo divorce and 36.6 percent of women do. Women and men between the ages of 35 and 39 are the least likely to divorce, their rates range between 5.1 percent for women and 6.5 percent for men.

The divorce rate for women under 20 is 27.6 percent, but for men, the stats are 11.7 percent. Divorcerate.org records divorce rates from around the globe and suggests that childlessness is a common cause of divorce.

40 percent of couples with children divorce, while 66 percent of childless couples divorce.

Divorce statistics suggest that couples who divorce as a result of Facebook or any other reason do so during a woman's traditional childbearing years---ages 20 and 30. Women over the age of 30 are less likely to divorce than their younger peers.


Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
As far as I know, I'm the only person at my school (students and teachers alike) that doesn't have a facebook account. They ask why; I ask why they have to ask. There are a ton of reasons. This is just one example.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
I dont have facebook either. And I have asked my husband to delete his several times. It will cost us our marriage one day. :( -a broken hearted wife

Submitted by kenny (not verified) on
my wifes casual use of facebook and socializing grew into an affair with one of her old flames. our 25 yrs of marriage did little to deter or curb their rekindled desire for each other. the affair destroyed our trust, our faith,our lives. i have no kind words for facebook. only couples BEWARE!

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