24 Apr Is Instagram Ruining Your Marriage?
By Miriam Merrill
Your Instagram account may be ruining your marriage.
With the number of active monthly users reaching 1 billion, Instagram is more popular than ever. While there are millions of users in every age category, approximately 64% of users are unsurprisingly between 18-34. It seems innocent enough, but with the average age of marriage for men and women hitting 28, this puts the most trying years of marital relationships right inside the bracket of the most loyal Instagram users. Some of the most crucial years of relationship development in a marriage are likely to be spent trying to obtain “likes” and “follows”, which has been proven to be damaging to relationships.
But why is it so damaging? Keep reading to find out three ways that Instagram is hurting your relationship with your spouse.
It’s giving you unrealistic marital expectations and setting you up for failure.
One of the biggest threats to marriage in general is having unrealistic expectations. On their own, these false ideals are consistently linked to lower relationship satisfaction, and less investment in the marriage. But when you add social media to the picture? It just gets worse.
There is nothing like having a disagreement with your spouse and then getting on Instagram just in time to see a new post with a caption like “He is so perfect”, “He meets all of my needs” or “He is my soulmate”. While the posters may have acted innocently, all those reading the captions are likely to assume that it’s normal to feel like that, so they’ll discouragingly conclude their marriage must be a bad one.
This of course, couldn’t be further from the truth. No one is perfect. It’s impossible for a single person to meet all of your needs, and unhealthy and unfair to ask someone to. The notion that there is only one person meant for you in the world who you are 100% compatible with just isn’t true. And ironically, research suggests that the couples who post the most are actually the most insecure about their marriage, so we shouldn’t believe everything we see on Instagram anyway.
The more we see perfectly curated lives on Instagram and assume it is the norm, the more our own marriages seem unexciting and unromantic, and we become less committed to each other and the marriage.
It’s adding anxiety and distrust to your relationship.
Relationships are difficult enough without adding breeding grounds for anxiety and distrust. Worry about online affairs and looking as desirable as others on social media is enough to make any spouse sensitively jealous. It’s a proven fact that the use of technology in relationships distances partners, causes trust issues and misunderstandings, and distracts couples from sharing intimate moments.
The latter is such a big deal that a term was even recently invented for snubbing someone while using your phone: phubbing. 50% of people report being “phubbed” by a significant other, which is a pretty big deal considering the fact that the act has been linked to spousal depression and lower marital satisfaction. While none of us like being ignored while our partner uses their phone, we are all also guilty of it.
Even on a personal level, Instagram has been associated with high levels of anxiety, depression, and, bullying. We may feel that social media is not negatively impacting your relationship, but it’s still affecting you and preventing you from being your best self for your spouse.
It’s increasing your chances of having an affair.
With the ever-increasing popularity of social media, it’s easy to find old friends and re-connect. While this is certainly one of the most advantageous aspects of Instagram, it can also be one of the most dangerous. One in three divorces start as online affairs.
With a few clicks, it’s easy to look up profiles of exes. Seeing pictures of them can easily stir up the old feelings you used to have and promote romantic longing, as you see what your life may have looked like if you were still with them. And if you make the decision to reach out, you’ve entered a seriously dangerous zone.
Licensed marriage and family therapist George James illustrates this: “The initial intent [can be] to reconnect as friends. As time progresses, the conversations become secretive, and the married person starts to think that the old flame is there for them more than their spouse.”
Author Kelly Chicas adds, “When you’re at home with your partner, you have all the problems of day-to-day life, and it’s easy to want to forget all the responsibilities of today. It becomes easy to romanticize this ‘other life’ with someone on social media.”
Even if you don’t have an affair, this study found that the more frequently someone contacted their ex, the less satisfied they felt in their current relationship. Why take the risk?
What Can We Do?
While I don’t think anyone would disagree that social media complicates your relationships, its use doesn’t exactly seem avoidable in this technology-driven world, either. So, what do we do?
Work together as a couple to decide on boundaries regarding social media use. You could pick a technology-free time before bed to allow yourselves time to reconnect. You may create a “no cell phones on date night”-type rule. You might combine social media profiles. You may even delete them altogether. The boundaries themselves don’t matter as much as the commitment to communication and dedication to marital fidelity.
Watch What You Post on Social Media
Make sure that what you are posting isn’t building someone else’s unrealistic expectations. Commit to genuineness on social media. And next time you envy someone’s life on Instagram, just remember that couples who endure challenges in marriage are actually stronger than those who don’t.
Recommit to Date Night
With so much working against couples, recommitting to date night is a great step in strengthening your marriage regardless of what you are dealing with. Research has shown that couples who have weekly date night are 3.5 times more likely to report being “very happy” in their marriage, and 3.5 times more likely to report “above-average” communication. Read more about how date night can help your marriage and how to make it successful here.
With awareness we can now act. Choose action that will help build and protect your marriage. Do not let your relationship with your spouse fall prey to the vices of social media.