Members of the armed forces are in constant need of support and rightfully so. They have chosen a path that puts themselves on the line, defending our country and providing a safe and stable place for us to live. This requires support not only from their country, but their families at home.
These families have to live through the service that one or both spouses commits to, and that can be challenging. Luckily, with the innovations in technology, communication through social media has given members of the military the ability to be better connected with their spouses and children.
However, given the studies that show the negative effects of social media use, that may not necessarily be as good of a thing as previously thought.
Northcentral University study
A recent study from the School of Psychology at Northcentral University examined how social networking can negatively impact military married couples, as it pertains to a lack of marital satisfaction, infidelity, and divorce.
While social networking outlets, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and SnapChat allow military married couples the opportunity to stay connected when one or both spouses are overseas, the social media outlets also have the capacity to influence personal well-being and create negative outcomes.
Much of that stems from how easy it is to connect with people. With the Internet becoming a utility, individuals can connect with anyone they want to, making it easier to pursue new potential romantic partners. This makes cheating significantly easier, for those uninterested in keeping their vows.
With the way members of the military can be stationed all over the world, many spouses and families may find themselves landlocked, due to a house or job, and be unable to be in close proximity to their military spouse. Over time, distance, miscommunication, and the temptation to stray can cause a negative outcome in the marital relationship.
The Northcentral University study cited another study by Russell B. Clayton, of Florida State University, Jessica R. Smith, of St. Mary’s University, and Alexander Nagurney, of the University of Hawaii. This study examined Facebook use and negative interpersonal relationship outcomes.
They found that a high level of Facebook usage is associated with negative relationship outcomes, such as cheating, breakups, and divorces, and the relationships themselves are mediated by Facebook-related conflicts.
Northcentral University study’s results
The researchers at Northcentral University took those results and applied the skeleton of the study on people in general, to people in the military. Given previous studies that have noted changes in military couples after deployment, the likelihood that infidelity, divorce, and a lack of marital satisfaction may be the outcome of the research seemed possible.
However, the results of the study did not reflect the hypothesized outcome. There was no significant relationship between the amount of social network use and marital satisfaction among military couples, and there was no significant relationship between the amount of social networking use with nonfamily members and infidelity among military couples, according to the study.
The study also found that there was no difference in divorce intent, marital satisfaction, and social networking usage between military and civilian couples. However, the study did find that infidelity was significantly higher among the military population compared to the civilian population.
The results of the study coincide with the concerted efforts debunking the idea that members of the military are more likely to divorce than couples without military service. In fact, research from the Defense Manpower Data Center, of the U.S. Army, has shown a decrease in divorce rates, as of 2015.
The utilization of social media for cheating purposes is not indicative of the fact that the couple is a military married couple. Social media and technology have made infidelity immensely easier for all looking to do so, and members of the military should not be unfairly stigmatized for the false perception that their service and the way it can take them away from their spouse for a time, puts the marriage at a greater risk.