Seattle man: Facebook cost me my 20-year marriage

Seattle man: Facebook cost me my 20-year marriage »Play Video
SEATTLE -- A Seattle man says Facebook led him on a path that took down his marriage.

"Facebook, without a doubt, played a big part in the end of my marriage," said "Randy," who'd been married for 20 years. Randy did not wish to be identified by his real name in order to protect his child.

Randy says it all began with the click of the "friend" button on Facebook. The button wasn't necessarily the cause or the reason, Randy says, "But it was a tool or a symptom, and it certainly helped it along."

What seemingly began as a harmless reconnection between his then-wife and her old college flame online led to heartbreak.

"Tore my heart out of my chest, threw it under the bus and the bus ran over it 100 times," he said.

Randy said it began with his wife's addiction to Facebook.

"It got to the point of every moment she wasn't doing something, she'd be on Facebook," he said. "Unfortunately, a lot of it was with him."

After counseling failed, Randy went straight to his divorce attorney. Seattle attorney Juliana Wong has had similar clients.

"You can say goodbye to the days where you find lipstick on the collar. It's not that anymore; it's these emails and text messages and postings," she said.

Wong insists people are being stupid about the information they put out there on social media sites, as well as via emails and text messages.

"One of the first places that I go to is a social networking site - either Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and oftentimes maybe even LinkedIn," she said.

Washington state law doesn't assign fault in divorce cases, but the evidence Wong digs can still help some clients negotiate a better settlement.

According to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 81 percent of the country's top divorce attorneys say in the last five years, they've seen and used a surge of evidence that came for social networking sites.

"What people have to say about themselves can be very significant in how you strategize and work the case," said Wong.

And don't think privacy settings will save you.

"There's always ways of getting that information even though you have privacy settings," said the attorney.

Maple Valley couple Jason and Kelli Krafsky wrote the book Facebook and Your Marriage.

"This really is not a good situation in a marriage," said Jason Krafsky. "People are sharing real life, real photos. It's something where we do need to take is seriously."

And seriously think before you decide to "friend" someone on Facebook, especially if the request is from an old flame. The Krafskys advise against it, and Randy agrees.

"You revert back to those days, the fun and excitement of college," said Randy.

In hindsight, Randy recognized what he calls the warning signs -- his wife got secretive online, changed her passwords, often spent time on her laptop in private. And if Randy asked her what she was doing while online, he said she'd shut close her laptop.

"It seemed innocent enough at first, but as it carries on it takes on a life of its own," he said.

What may have begun as Facebook flirting turned into a disappointing extramarital affair. His wife denied any Internet infidelity, but she made mistakes, occasionally forgetting to log off of Facebook and lending her phone to Randy that contained a thread of steamy text messages from her old flame.

Remember, the Internet is forever.

"The Internet is written in ink, never in pencil. So when it's out there, it's out there," Wong said.

Think about the consequences. For Randy, it was divorce.

"It's cost people like me our marriage," he said.

Krafsky suggests couples create online boundaries, keep your relationship status set to married, update each other on friends and friend requests, and share your user name and password with each other.