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Divorce: Is it contagious?

Most people enter marriage fully aware that there is a nearly 50 percent chance that their marriage will end in divorce. But what if you had different information? What if you found out that your chances of marital bliss and survival dropped to only about 25 percent if your friends, other family members, or colleagues divorced, would you still be willing to tie the knot?

Divorce clusters

New research from Brown University and two other US universities have been studying the effects of divorce on married friends and couples and have determined that “divorce clusters” are not only a real issue, but they may be hazardous to your own marriage.

Perceptions of happy marriages shattered

Divorcing friends are forcing their married pals to look at their own marriages in new and possibly unfavourable light. The mates that were perceived to have solid relationships but are now facing their day in divorce court may be placing the microscope on your marriage. Mates whose marriages seem good or happy are crushing the perception that a circle of married friends may have once had about each other’s marital bliss. When the perception is shattered close friends begin to wonder, If it can happen to them, maybe it can happen to us.”

Another interesting aspect to divorce clustering is when friends facing divorce create an acceptable outlet for their still married friends. While divorce is still socially frowned upon, it does generate an appealing and more accepted form of walking away from problems; even if you didn’t previously believe that divorce was an option.

Is Divorce contagious?

As a society, we are influenced socially by family, friends and people we work with. If divorce is seen as a socially contagious virus, there stands to be a considerable likelihood that you will be personally impacted by another’s behaviour.

Your close friends aren’t the only one impacting your future with your spouse. The Brown University study takes into consideration close friends, friends of friends and even your family, such as siblings and work colleagues. What this means is that even if you aren’t directly affected by the split of close friends’ marriage, there is still a strong link to your own marriage ending if you have family members or work mates who have gone through a divorce.

Controlling your destiny

While you can’t control the outcome of other people’s marriages, you do have control over how you perceive your own relationship. Recognising that thousands of other couples have made it through the same problem as your divorcing friends without filing divorce papers, can save your own marriage unnecessary stress and uncertainty.

Related links

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Coping with divorce

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