Social media 'threatening' fragile marriages in Turkey

The ubiquity of smartphones and social media could be one of the reasons behind an increasing number of Turkish divorces

The ubiquity of smartphones and social media could be one of the reasons behind an increasing number of Turkish divorces

ISTANBUL – “My husband was always in front of the computer. He was neglecting me,” says Sinem a 30-year-old a fashion designer from Istanbul: "It was making me crazy."

Sinem – not her real name – is the mother of a three-year-old-girl and divorced in 2013 after three years of marriage.

She is just one of the thousands of people who are divorced and now pointing to social media’s negative impact on their marriages. There is an increasing trend in the numbers of people getting divorced in Turkey recently.

Research released last week by Turkey’s Ajans Press media monitoring center revealed that although there were around 1,000 stories on divorce in 2010, this number more than doubled to 2,300 in 2014.

In total, 125,305 people got divorced in 2013 according to a recent report by the Turkish Statistical Institute – a 38 percent increase in the last ten years.

Experts speaking to The Anadolu Agency say misuse of social media and communications technology has exacerbated this increasing number of divorces.

“While one half of the couple is sleeping in a room, the other can text a third person through smart phones very easily,” says Yesim Varol Sen, a life coach and marriage counselor in Istanbul.

“Yes, misusage of social media and technology has started being one of the reasons behind the divorces in Turkey in recent years. It has made betrayal easier ... but it is not social media's fault. It is completely about an individual’s will and intention,” she adds.

Forty percent of adulterous divorce cases in Italy cite WhatsApp messages as evidence of infidelity, according to the Italian Association of Matrimonial Lawyers. A Boston University study last year also describes Facebook use as a “positive, significant predictor of divorce rate and spousal troubles.”

Back in Turkey, both married and single people agree.

Seda Emeksiz Sasmaz, 30, a married businesswoman in Ankara, says: “I’ve heard of some men who abandoned their wives and children for a woman that they met on Facebook. I believe it has a bad effect on couples if they use it with bad intentions. ”

Thirty-three-year-old Huseyin Serin, a tourist guide in Istanbul, holds similar views.

“If I get married one day, I will delete all my social media accounts and will ask my wife to do the same,” he says; “I believe it creates jealousy among couples and damages relations.”

Murat Dokur, the president of the Istanbul-based Therapies for Family and Marriage Foundation is cautious about social media's role.

"I don't think social media wears away relations directly. These relationships affected by social media are already spoiled relations."

This increase in divorce has also worried the Turkish government. To curb the divorce rate, the Ministry of Family and Social Policy has opened counseling centers across the country, giving tutorials for couples who intend to get married – and who intend to get divorced.

Aside from social media usage, changes in women’s role in society, the rise in individualism and a lack of communication within the family are other reasons behind divorces, say experts.

"Becoming a consumer society recently has effects on marriages, unfortunately. People do not put enough effort into their relationships anymore. Individualism has increased. People go through their marriages very quickly," Sen says.

Greed is another enemy of marriages, it is claimed.

“When our economic power increases, we want more from life: a better house; a better car; and a happier marriage. We should not forget that to have a better life, we should exert much more effort [on our relationships],” she says.

Communication and empathy within the family are crucial for couples, according to experts. 

For healthy marriages "couples should be careful about their steps. They should not act irresponsibly, both in general and while using social media," Sen adds.

So, it seems that putting down that smartphone, logging off from the ‘net and spending time with a loved one may be the recipe for a happier marriage.

Copyright © 2015 Anadolu Agency