FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Recent surveys estimate Facebook is now playing a role in at least a fifth of U.S divorces and may be a factor in up to a third of divorces . With that in mind, and in the hopes that their story will serve as a lesson for others, one couple in northeast Indiana decided to share how social media contributed to the shattering of their marriage.
Jeff and Denise, who asked not to have their faces shown or last names revealed in our TV interview, got married 12 and a half years ago. The early years, they say, were happy. But in 2009, Jeff -consumed with starting a small business- was working long hours, and problems began to emerge.
“For me, it was the intimacy and the relationship in the bedroom,” said Jeff. “It just wasn’t there at all. Once a month, if lucky.”
Denise added, “There was lack of communication there, too. In a sense, we both went our separate ways. He worked a lot and I was working also and taking care of the kids and taking care of the house, so time together was not there.”
About this time, Jeff was reconnecting on Facebook with a woman he’d known in high school.
“You felt like you could tell this woman things you couldn’t tell your wife?” NewsChannel 15 asked. “Absolutely,” Jeff responded.
“Because that part of your life at this point was shut down?”
“Yeah. I think it’s human nature to look back and say ‘What if ?’,” Jeff continued. “And that’s how it progressed. And it just clicked and started going in a direction that it never should have gone.”
Two to three months after the chatting started, it had turned into an emotional affair. Though the adultery had not yet turned physical, Jeff and the other woman did start meeting in person, and the attraction only grew stronger. Within weeks, Jeff decided to divorce Denise.
Jeff remembered breaking the news to his wife. “We just sat in here and I told her I was done. I [could not] continue on this way. I had fallen in love with somebody else, and I was leaving.”
Denise’s response? “I was totally devastated because I hadn’t even seen any warning signs, if I want to say that. It was just like a bombshell had been dropped.”
Jeff walked out on his wife and three kids, an especially crushing blow to their oldest daughter, who was eight years old at the time.
“I still remember the look on her face and the tears rolling, you know, from the devastation,” said Denise. “Because I think in a kid’s eyes, the person that Dad should like or love is Mom, not anybody else.”