TIME psychology

6 Things to Do to Improve Your Relationship

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In the past I’ve covered the research regarding what you should look for in a marriage partner.

What do studies say about what you can do to improve your relationship?

Excitement

Divorce may have less to do with an increase in conflict and more to do with a decrease in positive feelings. Boredom really can hurt a relationship:

Being bored with the marriage undermines closeness, which in turn reduces satisfaction, Orbuch said.

“It suggests that excitement in relationships facilitates or makes salient closeness, which in turn promotes satisfaction in the long term,” she said.

We spend a lot of time trying to reduce conflict but not enough time experiencing thrills. And the latter may be more important.

Via Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being:

Shelly Gable, professor of psychology at the University of California at Santa Barbara, has demonstrated that how you celebrate is more predictive of strong relations than how you fight.

The research points again and again to how important thrills are:

  • Think a pleasant evening is all it takes? Researchers did a 10 week study comparing couples that engaged in “pleasant” activities vs “exciting” activities. Pleasant lost.

So do something exciting. Go dancing together or anything else you can both participate in as a couple.

Let Yourself Be A Little Deluded With Love

Being a little deluded helps marriages:

…people who were unrealistically idealistic about their partners when they got married were more satisfied with their marriage three years later than less idealistic people.

And it’s not just true for marriages:

…relationship illusions predicted greater satisfaction, love, and trust, and less conflict and ambivalence in both dating and marital relationships. A longitudinal follow-up of the dating sample revealed that relationships were more likely to persist the stronger individuals’ initial illusions.

5 to 1

Keep that ratio in mind. You need five good things for every bad thing in order to keep a happy relationship:

A 2.9: 1 means you are headed for a divorce. You need a 5: 1 ratio to predict a strong and loving marriage— five positive statements for every critical statement you make of your spouse.

And when you’re dealing with your mother-in-law the ratio is 1000 to 1. I’m not kidding.

Be Conscientious

Conscientiousness is the trait most associated with marital satisfaction:

…our findings suggest that conscientiousness is the trait most broadly associated with marital satisfaction in this sample of long-wed couples.

Actually, you can kill a lot of birds with this one stone because it’s also associated with longevity, income, job satisfaction and health.

Gratitude

Gratitude can be a booster shot for a relationship:

…gratitude had uniquely predictive power in relationship promotion, perhaps acting as a booster shot for the relationship.

It can even create a self-perpetuating positive feedback loop:

Thus, the authors’ findings add credence to their model, in that gratitude contributes to a reciprocal process of relationship maintenance, whereby each partner’s maintenance behaviors, perceptions of responsiveness, and feelings of gratitude feed back on and influence the other’s behaviors, perceptions, and feelings.

Try

Sounds silly but it’s true. Want a better relationship? Try.

Sounds ridiculous but:

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Related posts:

The Science Of “Happily Ever After”: 3 Things That Keep Love Alive

What are the four things that kill relationships?

What are the 5 things that make love last?

This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

MONEY Ask the Expert

When Parents Can Say No to Picking Up the Tab for Insurance

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Robert A. Di Ieso, Jr.

Q. My ex-husband has been responsible for providing health insurance for our kids until the age of majority. My sons are now 21 and almost 18. My ex has family coverage for himself and his new wife, but he wants me to put the kids on my insurance now that they have reached the age of majority. Covering the kids doesn’t cost him anything extra, but for me to switch from a single plan to a family plan is an extra $175 a month and I can’t afford it. Since the age of majority for health insurance is now 26, is it possible he still is required to keep them on his insurance?

A. No, he’s not obligated to keep them on his health plan. Under the health law, insurers must offer to cover young adults up to age 26, but parents aren’t obligated to provide it, says Timothy Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee University and an expert on the health law.

Further, the requirement to offer coverage isn’t related to the age of majority, which is defined by individual states and is generally between 18 and 21, says Randy Kessler, an Atlanta divorce lawyer and past chair of the American Bar Association’s family law section.

The health insurance coverage arrangement that you describe is pretty typical, says Kessler. You could go back to court and try to get your child-support payments increased to cover the cost of providing health insurance for the kids, but “it would be unusual for the courts to be helpful,” says Kessler. Absent some significant change in your or your ex-husband’s finances, or unforeseen and costly medical expenses for your children, in general “you can’t have another bite at the apple.”

With no legal requirement to compel either of you to cover your kids, it’s something the two of you will just have to work out, says Kessler. In addition to covering your children on your own or your ex’s plan, it’s also worth exploring whether they might qualify for subsidized coverage on the state marketplaces or for Medicaid, if your state has expanded coverage to childless adults. If they’re in college, student health coverage is worth investigating as well.

Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

TIME Infidelity

Cheaters’ Dating Site Ashley Madison Spied on Its Users

Erin Patrice O'Brien—Getty Images

A service for people seeking affairs secretly analyzed its members' conversations

In a study to be presented at the 109th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association in San Francisco on Saturday Aug. 16, Eric Anderson, a professor at the University of Winchester in England claims that women who seek extra-marital affairs usually still love their husbands and are cheating instead of divorcing, because they need more passion. “It is very clear that our model of having sex and love with just one other person for life has failed— and it has failed massively,” says Anderson.

How does he know this? Because he spied on the conversations women were having on Ashley Madison, a website created for the purpose of having an affair. Professor Anderson, who as it turns out is a the “chief science officer” at Ashley Madison, looked at more than 4,000 conversations that 100 women were having with potential paramours. “I monitored their conversation with men on the website, without their knowing that I was monitoring and analyzing their conversations,” he says. “The men did not know either.”

Now, let’s put aside for one second that it’s mighty convenient for a guy paid by a website that promotes cheating among married people to publish a study that finds that cheating probably doesn’t hurt marriages. Let’s put aside too, as a probable clerical error, that the study’s press release calls Anderson a professor of masculinity, sexuality, and sport, but the University of Winchester website lists him merely as Professor of Sports Studies, and that seven of his 10 books are about sports and only one is about relationships.

And while we’re putting things aside, let’s also overlook the fact that in seeking to find out how women feel about their marriages, he drew his subjects entirely from a website that women visit specifically to cheat. And from conversations among people who were seeking to be anonymous and who had ample reason to be less than candid. Almost by definition, any user of Ashley Madison is lying to someone: either her husband, which draws her honesty into question, and/or other users of Ashley Madison, which makes the data highly suspect. Or she has an open marriage, in which case she is not a good subject for a study on cheating.

When asked how he adjusts his figures for this selection bias, Anderson’s answer is simple. “I don’t,” he says. “Most of our knowledge of women who cheat comes from another population via selection bias, those in counselors’ offices. My method is the best way we can do this. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best we have.” That’s a lot of caveats for a guy who also says he wants the study “to help unravel the stranglehold that our culture has on sex and love.”

Even if we overlook that whole pile of problems, or get around it somehow since it’s a little large to look over, then we still have the basic problem with this study that this guy spied on Ashley Madison users to get his data. He covertly monitored the conversations of people who had come to the website in order to ensure their privacy.

Anderson’s data “included profile information that the women supplied when they signed up for the site (information not made available to other Ashley Madison users)” he writes in the study, as well as information other users could see. “We also acquired all private message conversations that [users] had with men on the website for one month.” Were the users aware that every intimate thing they said in the course of finding an affair partner might be made available to Professors of Sports Studies? Well, sort of. Back when they registered for the site, it was in the terms and conditions. Because everybody reads the user agreement carefully, of course.

Anderson, who likes to use the term “monoganism,” as if mutually agreed fidelity were a cult of some sort, maintains that one of the reasons monogamy is becoming such an imposition on modern couples is a condition he calls “relative sexual deprivation.” His theory is that people feel sexually deprived because thanks to the internet, everybody’s aware that there are many more opportunities to get some nooky that monogamous couples have to let slide. “Individuals evaluate their own standing by comparing their current position with those who have more,” he writes. “Women may therefore look at their monogamous relationships and consider themselves sexually deprived in comparison to what they see occurring in today’s sexualized culture.”

To recap: women want to cheat, not because they don’t love their spouses, but because the internet makes them feel like they’re not getting enough sex and also gives them so many more opportunities to cheat. Places, like, say, Ashley Madison. Which is totally the place you should go, apparently, if you both love your husband and wish to be spied on.

 

TIME Crazy In Love

We All Secretly Hope Jay and Bey Get Divorced

Beyoncé & Jay Z
Beyoncé & Jay Z Frank Micelotta—Frank Micelotta/PictureGroup

Call it crazy, but no longer in love—just like the typical married American

On Wednesday night, Jay Z and Beyoncé, who are so private, they refused to tell us why Jay Z was kicked repeatedly in an elevator by Beyoncé’s sister Solange—even though we really wanted to know, even though the pain of not knowing never subsides—once again showed movies of their daughter on a Jumbotron. If putting babies on Jumbotrons were a press release, by the way, it would read, “Please leave us alone. Our private lives are sacred. And also please enjoy these images of our daughter on a Jumbotron.”

Displaying one’s infant child on a Jumbotron seems like a strange reaction to being in the spotlight, rather like a homeopathic remedy given in unsuitably large quantities. My immediate thought, probably not original, was that they were trying to use the child as a sort of decoy: Look at the thing we wrought when we made mad, passionate pro-creative love, and of course we are still in love, because people with children who used to be really in love never fall out of it and get divorced. Gosh, here I am like every other Tom, Dick and Perez Hilton, analyzing Beyoncé and Jay Z’s marriage like I know what’s going on. I’m not a mind reader. I’m not one of the 300 or 400 people who, if imminent divorce is actually a secret, are being paid to manage it full time, while simultaneously ensuring that it is not a secret.

Sure, I could shut up about stuff I know nothing about, but how can one resist the new national pastime? And how can one deny they want the guessing game to be our national pastime? Seriously, if you’re not trying to figure out what it meant when Beyoncé changed the words in “Resentment” from “Been ridin’ with you for six years now” to “Been ridin’ with you for 12 years now,” or whether it’s really true that Beyoncé has been shopping around for her own apartment in New York City, or whether their distance on stage means that they’re splitting up or that they’re just plain sick of being paid millions of dollars to sing and dance, can you really call yourself an American?

The day after the news broke that Jay and Bey were having problems and were going to break up as soon as their tour ended, Twitter buzzed with pre-breakup anxiety-meltdown tweets, like (I’m paraphrasing), “No, I love Beyoncé and Jay Z they are too perfect don’t let it be true #distraught,” and, “Maybe Bey and Jay-Z are just going through a rough patch #fingerscrossed,” and, my favorite, “If Bey and Jay can’t make it, please tell me who can #sad #breakups #why.” They persist. Yeah, there’s the odd person who is like, “Hey, me and Beyoncé are going to be single moms together #cool.” But mostly not.

However, it seems abundantly clear that if two pop stars who have turned themselves into global brands can’t spend the rest of their lives together in wedded bliss in a nation where about half of all marriages end in divorce anyway, then there is no hope for anyone. And just because there are a few individuals out there who are upset for 45 seconds that Jay and Bey might indeed split up (I am going to go out on a limb and guess that none of these people are named Solange Knowles), most people are delighted.

Sorry for yet more unproven, random Jay-Bey theories, but I know this. How? Because I am a human being, and if I know one thing about human beings, it is that the only thing they love more than french fries, Law & Order: SVU and sleeping is when rich, hot people’s lives are revealed to secretly suck.

I additionally know this because when I went to Google “How many marriages end in divorce?,” I only got to “How many marriages” before Google kindly guessed the end of my question: “are sexless?” So. There are six 15-year-olds out there who don’t want Beyoncé and Jay Z to break up. Everyone else in America has circled Sept. 13, the final night of Jay and Bey’s On the Run tour, on their calendar in red. Between now and then, they will wake every morning at dawn, kneel by their bed and mutter, “God, please let those people who forced us to watch that “Partition” video in which they acted like being together for 11 years was so hot be so frickin’ over each other, because they so frickin’ deserve it.”

On second thought, maybe the Jumbotron was an act of generosity—Jay Z and Beyoncé’s way of saying, We live in a disgusting, exploitative and fame-obsessed world, and please allow us to signify the moment where this particular situation jumped the shark. Ten years from now, perhaps, Tavi Gevinson, interviewing Beyoncé for the last magazine in existence, will turn off her iPhone 18’s recording device, rest her vintage Mont Blanc pen pensively against her lip, lean across a marble table in a hotel bar and whisper, “Tell me, Beyoncé. Was the great Blue Ivy Jumbotronning of 2014 in fact rooted in a sort of meta, post-Warhol sensibility?” And Beyoncé will perhaps reply, “Oh, Tavi. I thought you’d never ask.”

Sarah Miller also writes for NewYorker.com and The Hairpin, among other outlets, and has published two novels, Inside the Mind of Gideon Rayburn and The Other Girl.

TIME Marriage

Don’t Blame Facebook For Your Divorce

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cpaquin—Getty Images

Understanding the flaws in a new study that says time spent on Facebook is related to the divorce rate

A new study suggests that there is a relationship between increased Facebook use and divorce. But don’t delete your Facebook account yet: the researchers themselves admit that they have found a correlation between the two, not causation.

The researchers, who published the study in the July 2014 edition of Computers in Human Behavior, first looked at the rise of Facebook use and the rate of divorce in individual states. They found that a 20% increase in the number of Facebook users in a given state is associated with a 4% increase in the divorce rate the following year. However, the researchers could not identify who exactly was creating new Facebook accounts: it could have been young teens allowed to log on to the site for the first time or older people finally catching on to the trend. The people increasing their Facebook use were not necessarily the same people who were getting divorced.

The researchers also looked at survey information from individuals across the country aged 18 to 39. They found a weak relationship between marriage quality and social media use: those who spent more time on Facebook, Twitter and other sites were more likely to be unhappy with their marriage and thinking about ending it. However, an easy explanation for this correlation absolves Facebook: rather than social media sites causing people to be unhappy with their marriages, people who are unhappy (whether with their spouse or their life in general) could be turning to Facebook and other social media as an outlet. Individuals use Facebook to talk to friends, connect with old acquaintances and browse news and information—all of which can be used as a distraction from the less pleasant realities of life.

As the researchers conclude: “The study does not establish a cause-and-effect relationship because that would require longitudinal and/or experimental data.”

Sure, the Internet has made it easier to find mistresses and simpler to track a spouse’s cheating. But in the end, the individual has agency. Being exposed to exes, old friends or strangers online perhaps makes cheating more tempting, but it doesn’t encourage cheating. Similarly, a person may be inclined to monitor their partner’s activity, but that person can also choose to trust his or her significant other. In short, if a cheater is going to cheat, he doesn’t need Facebook (0r even the Internet) to accomplish that goal.

TIME Family

Couples With Marital Stress More Likely to Have Daughters

Parents Baby Daughter
Mother and father are shown kissing their baby daughter. Chris Ryan—OJO Images RF/Getty Images

“Girls may well be surviving stressful pregnancies that boys can’t survive”

They’re always blaming the children. After years of research showing that couples with daughters are more likely to divorce, Duke researchers Tuesday offered up an interesting explanation as to why: female embryos are better at toughing it out.

Duke economist Amar Hamoudi co-authored the study, which analyzed longitudinal data from a random sample of Americans between 1979 and 2010. Their results showed that women who reported higher levels of relationship stress, linked to a increased prevalence of later divorce, were more likely to give birth to girls.

“Girls may well be surviving stressful pregnancies that boys can’t survive,” Hamoudi said. “Thus girls are more likely than boys to be born into marriages that were already strained.”

Research has widely documented men’s higher mortality rates from birth to age 100, and recent studies have shown that the “female survival advantage” may even begin in the womb. Hamoudi suggests that science needs to take a closer look at this critical life stage.

“It’s time for population studies to shine a light on the period of pregnancy,” Hamoudi said. “The clock does not start at birth.”

TIME

Like Gwyneth and Chris, My Husband and I Consciously Recoupled

Gwyneth Paltrow, left, and Chris Martin
Gwyneth Paltrow, left, and Chris Martin Colin Young-Wolff—Invision/AP

After I heard "I don't love you anymore," my marriage headed into a gray area—and it wasn't all bad

The concept of “conscious living” is a popular one—synonymous with “mindfulness,” we like to apply it to eating, building, working, whatever we are doing. Time even put it on the cover a few months ago. Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin brought the revolution to more tabloid headlines when they announced their “conscious uncoupling.” More recent reports, however, note that the uncoupled pair has been publicly love-birding, so it’s natural to wonder if a “recoupling” is in the offing.

“Coupling” brings me back to the railroad yards of my youth, where my father, a train–parts salesman, would explain how the cars come apart and together using something called a coupler. With only a modicum of bashing and bravado, the trains would line up and be on their way. And with that in mind, “uncoupling” seems a much better word to use for the end of a relationship than the fraught, shameful “divorce.” I know, because in the last seven years, I have uncoupled, recoupled, and uncoupled for good from the person I coupled with in 1988. The Great Northern railroad runs through my small Montana town and I went to the train yard a lot in the last seven years.

Back in 2008, I was met with the words, “I don’t love you anymore. I’m not sure I ever did.” And an encore in 2011: “It’s not that I don’t love you. It’s that I’m not in love with you anymore.” The first time, I believed that the relationship was salvageable. The second time, I knew the marriage had to end. My reaction both times: to choose not to suffer by focusing on what I could own and what I could control, and letting go of the rest. Sounds hard. It was. But I did it as consciously as possible and I am better for having lived that way, even though the marriage is over. My strategy was never about staying together.

I wrote my way through both crises, in an essay for the New York Times and in my memoir, This is Not the Story You Think It Is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness. Consequently, I heard from people all over the globe and I can tell you: they want to know that there is some freedom in not knowing what’s around the corner.

Because—usually—it’s not black and white. There’s so much at stake—families, children’s stability, loss of property, future dreams, self-identity, community orientation. They want to know that there is hope. That in the grey area they will they learn something profound about themselves, and even find themselves back in the relationship—only with new perspective and heightened respect. They want to believe in that poster we had on our college dorm-room wall: “If you love something set it free. If it returns, it’s yours. If it doesn’t, it never was.”

When I was consciously uncoupling for the first time I was new at employing this practice of non-suffering. I had small kids, which meant that I couldn’t journey for great lengths of time to the Kripalu-Omega-Esalan institutes of the world, or to the top of Everest, or to an ashram. I had to practice mindfulness right there at my kitchen sink. And it worked.

Gwyneth and Chris and I are living proof that we can step outside the story that society spins during times of relationship re-invention—we don’t have to fight and throw plates to be powerful. In the first uncoupling, and even in our mediation sessions, there were times when I reached out and held my was-band’s hand (I can barely use the word “ex”) because we were used to navigating troubled times together. Uncoupling, and recoupling, and uncoupling, if you do that again, doesn’t need to be like the movies or TV dramas, or the war stories you hear from friends. You can find grace in the grey.

In those years of vacillation, I learned to live in the moment, responsible for my own happiness. Perhaps in so-doing, we found our way back to each other for a time. And why our mediator congratulated us in our last session, with the ink still drying on the divorce decree. “Good job, you guys. When you’re ready, I think you two would be excellent candidates for a divorce ceremony. They really help people deliberately and intentionally close this chapter of their lives.”

We’re not ready for that yet. There’s still a lot of grief. But for now we are able to co-parent and communicate with respect, and the kids are thriving. Did we all suffer less because of our conscious variations on coupling? I’d like to think so.

Laura Munson is the best-selling author of This Is Not The Story You Think It Is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness, and founder of Haven Retreats.

MONEY Divorce

The 7 Biggest Money Mistakes That Divorcing Women Make

Divorcing couple arguing
Hybrid Images—Getty Images/Cultura RF

A financial planner flags the costly errors women commonly make when a marriage breaks up.

Divorce, in my experience, is about two things: children and money.

The courts in most states typically will prioritize children’s interests first and foremost. Courts will also protect children’s entitlements by enforcing child support.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a comparable authority that protects a divorcing spouse’s financial needs. The law simply mandates a fair and reasonable financial outcome.

And beware: Dividing marital property is almost always a one-shot deal, for better or worse. Simply thinking that your outcome is unfair is not enough to try to reopen your judgment. To successfully appeal a division of property, you have to clear a very high bar: You have to prove that the divorce court made a mistake when considering the facts of the divorce or applying the divorce laws in your state to the case. Alternatively, you have to prove fraud or duress.

Over the course of years working with divorced and divorcing spouses, I’ve found some common financial mistakes that women make that threaten their financial security.

I’ve listed the mistakes here so you can be forewarned. Let me add a word of caution, though. It’s not enough to know that these issues can be a problem. You may feel as though you can handle them on your own. But with many of them, it is crucial you seek expert financial advice.

  1. Trading off part of the financial settlement you’re entitled to in exchange for securing child custody or greater visitation time.
  2. Underestimating your financial needs and assuming you can reduce your budget without consideration of the proportion of fixed overhead expenses.
  3. Believing in the “lawyer knows best” myth and letting your attorney dictate what your goals are and what your best short- and long-term outcomes are. You must be knowledgeable and responsible for your own financial security.
  4. Deciding financial issues one at a time and neglecting the interaction of factors such as income taxes, capital gains taxes, investment risk, inflation, and transferability of assets. All parts move like pieces in a puzzle and affect each other; they fall into place when you understand the comprehensive picture.
  5. Failing to adequately “insure” (that is, make enforceable) financial provisions of a settlement. If your spouse becomes disabled or dies, you may lose your support. You must protect your rights to your financial entitlements via life insurance on the payor.
  6. Failing to address unsecured debts or develop strategies for paying them off before your divorce is final. Unlike divorce — which is governed by state law — credit card debts and commercial loans are governed by federal law. Creditors do not care if your ex-spouse fails to pay off your debt as ordered in your settlement agreement. It is still your debt.
  7. Not planning, before the divorce is finalized, how to handle post-divorce financial issues such transferring pension benefits, securing health insurance, and changing ownership of accounts.

—————————————-

Vasileff received the Association of Divorce Financial Planners’ 2013 Pioneering Award for her public advocacy and leadership in the field of divorce financial planning. Vasileff is president emeritus of the ADFP and is a member of NAPFA, FPA, and IACP. She is president and founder of Divorce and Money Matters, serving clients nationwide from Greenwich, Conn. Her website is www.divorcematters.com.

TIME Culture

Halle Berry Ordered to Pay Almost $200K Per Year in Child Support

2014 Huading Film Awards - Press Room
Actress Halle Berry poses in the press room at the 2014 Huading Film Awards at The Montalban on June 1, 2014 in Hollywood, California. Jason LaVeris—FilmMagic

Berry and ex-boyfriend Gabriel Aubrey settle dispute

A judge has ordered Halle Berry to pay her ex-boyfriend, Gabriel Aubry, $16,000 per month in child support, the Associated Press reports. The Oscar-winner will fork over $200,000 per year plus tuition money for the ex-couple’s six-year-old daughter Nahla. Berry must also make a retroactive payment of $115,000 and another $300,000 to Aubry’s attorneys to cover their fees.

Berry falls in line with a growing number of women who pay child support. A 2013 Pew report found that women are the sole or primary breadwinners in 40 percent of households with children under 18. Because the number of female breadwinners is at a peak and more men are asking for shared custody, cases of women paying child support are likely on the rise, too. A 2012 survey of divorce lawyers in the United States found that 56 percent of attorneys saw an increase in numbers paying child support since 2009.

Aubry, 38, and Berry, 47, dated from 2005 to 2010 but never married. In 2012, the couple became involved in a custody dispute over Nahla, when a judge blocked the X-Men: Days of Future Past star from moving their daughter to France to live with her and her now-husband Olivier Martinez. The fight culminated in a physical altercation between Aubry and Martinez in November of 2012, People reported. Aubry and Berry now share equal custody of the girl, according to court documents.

Martinez is Berry’s third husband. The two welcomed a son, Maceo, in October.

TIME relationships

People Are Getting Social Media Prenups

Facebook's Influence In Consumer Consumption Of News Growing
Facebook (Photo Illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

But if you need one, your relationship is probably already doomed

Dating a jerk who cares more about his Facebook than your feelings? Don’t worry! You can get a social media prenup to protect your online reputation while you continue to sleep with the callous twit of your dreams.

Social media prenups are on the rise, according to ABC News, as more and more couples draw up contracts about what they can and can’t post online. Most of the prenups are monetary, which means someone may have to cough up as much as $50,000 if they post an unflattering picture of their spouse (and some include bans on revenge porn and other post-relationship social media.) “It’s a huge issue because we all know this stuff, once it’s out there, you can’t shake it,” attorney Ann-Margaret Carrozza told ABC. “It can be humiliating. It can be painful. … It’s really no joke, and I expect this clause to become much more important with any of the other contracts.”

But for every person who’s annoyed about having their embarrassing beach body posted online, there are other people who get upset that their significant others asked them not to post something. “This morning one of my clients was so hurt because her boyfriend said ‘don’t share on Facebook that you and I got together on my birthday,'” said Dr. Karen Ruskin, a psychotherapist and relationship expert. “Not being able to post something is hurtful because it seems like someone’s trying to keep you a secret, like a mistress in hiding.”

Dr. Ruskin says being told not to post something online can make people feel controlled, and make them feel like they’re being kept a secret and devalued by their partner. But if you have to draw up a contract over posting embarrassing pictures of each other, maybe there are some deeper issues going on. Like if someone doesn’t listen when you ask them not to post a picture of you in your bathing suit, maybe you should’t be dating them. Ditto if somebody is pretending you don’t exist online.

“If you’re fighting about social media, it means that there is something else going on,” Dr. Ruskin said. “If your relationship is in a healthy place, you’re likely not to argue about social media. Social media is just spotlighting the problem.”

ABC says that 80% of divorce attorneys say discussion of social networking is increasingly common in divorce proceedings for a range of reasons, which means we’ll probably be hearing more about prenups like this. But it’s not a safety measure– it’s a red flag.

Run, run for the hills!

 

 

 

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