As a Portland marriage counselor, I’ve noticed a growing trend with the rise of social networking: Facebook is causing relationship problems. If your significant other has a Facebook profile, it may be tempting to monitor his or her online activity, which can lead to feelings of jealousy or insecurity.

Russell Clayton, a doctoral student at the University of Missouri, conducted a study of Facebook users ages 18 to 82 and found that high levels of Facebook use among couples predicted Facebook-related conflicts, which in turn predicted cheating, break-ups, and divorce.

So why is Facebook so damaging? For one thing, it allows individuals to reconnect with people they’ve fallen out of touch with, including exes. For another thing, it allows people to see their significant other’s online presence and all his or her interactions with friends and former partners. With this ability to easily snoop around each other’s relationships, it’s no wonder Facebook has led to so many relationship problems!

Advice to Maneuver Facebook Conflicts from the Portland Marriage Counselor

The most obvious solution to Facebook-related marriage issues is to limit the amount of time you and your partner spend on the social networking site or to delete your profiles altogether. If this seems like too extreme a tactic, you can also talk to your partner about deleting any “red-flag” friends, such as an ex who seems to be trying to rekindle a romance or an officemate who has been overly flirty.

The most important thing is for you and your partner to discuss anything about Facebook that makes you uncomfortable. Are you wary because your husband’s ex just tagged an old picture of the two of them together? Are you wondering about the friend who left a flirty comment on your husband’s latest status? Don’t just write your own passive aggressive status updates – talk to him about it! Come up with a set of rules about what is and what isn’t appropriate for Facebook.

If Facebook continues to be a problem, it might be time to visit a Portland marriage counselor. Issues surrounding social media don’t have to mean the end of your relationship.