We’ve all seen it, and many of us have experienced it in our own lives: A family at the playground, or a couple out to dinner, and at least one person (if not more) with his or her head buried in a tablet or Smartphone.
In today’s world, Internet-enabled devices make it easier for us to feel connected to the rest of the world. However, in many cases, they also make it more difficult to connect with the people right in front of us. With the rise of the “Facebook divorce” – when one spouse files for divorce because of the other spouse’s online activity – some researchers suggest that our devices are having a negative impact on many people’s relationships. In fact, a couple of years ago, TIME magazine cited a study that “suggest[ed] that there is a relationship between increased Facebook use and divorce.”
How Connected Devices Can Negatively Affect Family Relationships
One clinical psychologist has posited that a key problem caused by spouses’ Smartphone use is that it negatively impacts the way individuals respond to one another’s “bids” for attention. A “bid” is an attempt to get someone else’s attention in order to engage in a meaningful interaction. It could be something as innocuous as saying, “This is unusual springtime weather for Wisconsin.” Or, it could be a statement as direct and pointed as, “We need to talk about our relationship.”
In any event, John Gottman, PhD, has identified three ways in which spouses can respond to one another’s bids. These are: (i) to “turn toward” the bid by expressing interest and giving the bidding spouse undivided attention; (ii) to “turn away” by ignoring the bid or giving a vapid response; and (iii) to “turn against” by responding to the bid with hostility or negativity.
When one spouse is engaged with a device, it seems that he or she may be more likely to either “turn away” or “turn against” his or her spouse’s bids for attention. Over time, for some couples, this can lead to deterioration of their marriage.
Can I File for Divorce Because My Spouse Won’t Get Off of His or Her Phone?
In Wisconsin, it is no longer possible to file for a “fault-based” divorce. Wisconsin is purely a “no-fault” divorce state, which means that divorces are generally based on the grounds of irreconcilable differences. Of course, this does not mean that you cannot have a reason for deciding to file; and, for many people, their spouse’s online activity is enough to draw the line. If you are considering a divorce because of your spouse’s device use, it may make sense to speak with a marriage counselor or other professional before you decide to file.
If you have made the decision to file for divorce, our attorneys can help you understand how your spouse’s online activity may affect your legal rights. In today’s world, this is a complex area that requires careful consideration.
Disclaimer: This Article Is Not Legal Advice.
Never rely on an article for legal advice as the law frequently changes, information may not be accurate, there may be exceptions to a rule, and reliance may be detrimental. Always consult one of our experienced attorneys for competent, current, and accurate legal advice.
Speak with a Wausau, WI Divorce Lawyer at Crooks, Low & Connell, S.C.
If you would like more information about filing for divorce in Wisconsin, we invite you to contact us for a confidential consultation. To speak with an attorney at our offices in Wausau, call (715) 842-2291 or request an appointment online today.