Sandy and Bill have been married for 18 years. They have three children ages 4, 9, and 12. After multiple attempts at trying to work through their marital problems, Sandy decides that she has had enough and asks Bill for a divorce.
Bill is not interested in a divorce, even though Sandy is so unhappy. He explains that he makes a lot of money and provides a lifestyle that Sandy always wanted. Sandy points out his behavior up to this point: rarely present with the kids, never helping shuttle them to their activities, doesn’t go on family vacations, and is always distant and distracted when he comes home. Sandy cannot keep going on the way things are, and Bill has shown little interest in even meeting Sandy halfway.
Suddenly Bill decides to take the kids on a vacation on his own. This is the first time their children will travel without Sandy. Everyone but Bill is feeling anxious. Bill insists on as little luggage as possible and counts on Sandy to make this happen. Their youngest child is attached to a favorite stuffed animal, an elephant named Emily. She is in tears worrying that there will not be room for it. Sandy over packs just so her daughter feels better and finds a small space to squeeze in Emily Elephant.
As the kids pile into the car, putting on a brave face even though their mom isn’t joining them, Sandy herself is dying inside. She is all too aware of Bill’s displeasure at her packing – it was apparently not up to his standards. Sandy returns inside to find Emily Elephant lying on the floor. Bill took it out to fit some new clothes he bought for himself.
Two days later, Sandy is browsing Facebook and sees multiple posts of Bill and the kids seeming to have the time of their lives with all the activities they are enjoying together. She reads all the comments from people congratulating him on what a great dad he is, how nice to take your kids on a special vacation. Sandy is understandably hurt and angry. Do they know her daughter cried for days worrying that daddy wouldn’t let her bring her stuffed animal? Do they know this is the first time he’s ever shown interest in doing fun things with their children?
We all know social media is powerful. Social media allows people to curate the way they present themselves to the world. Platforms like Facebook portray controlled and often staged moments in time. The posted pictures show what you want people to believe. It is unnerving to divorcing couples when one spouse reverts to posting pictures on social media that portray a lifestyle or behavior that simply isn’t true.
Because of these sorts of concerns, social media clauses are becoming more common in divorce proceedings. Especially if custody is being negotiated, defining what kinds of posts are permissible regarding children can help avoid some heartache. It may not prevent posts of vacation smiles hiding sad realities, but they can protect children by limiting the number of posts and not using their names.
We advise women all the time that you do not have to justify why you want a divorce. You do not have to feel guilty for wanting to live a peaceful life. You do not have to live a life without purpose. However, you must understand what your current financial portrait looks like. You must understand what your current lifestyle analysis looks like as a married person, and what it could like post-divorce.
Divorce is difficult enough for spouses and children without worrying about social media posts that don’t consider the feelings of the ones involved in the divorce process.
Before you post on social media, think about the message you are really sending and the impact it will have on the person or people you will have to communicate with the rest of your life. A recent post on the subject outlines some social media concerns that should be on your radar during a divorce. There is more to consider than the potential impact on children. Spouses’ reputations can be tarnished by rash posts in the heat of anger.
Divorce is complicated enough. Don’t create further complications with the way you utilizes social media. Consider protecting yourself and your loved ones from potential harm by working with a trusted resource person on how to handle social media as you manage the divorce process.