Is Divorce Contagious? How do You Avoid ‘Catching it’?
A couple of years ago a group of researchers released a study in which they discussed “divorce clusters”. Based on that, some have talked about divorce being contagious. Some of the findings of the study:
- When close friends divorce, the odds of your marriage ending increase by 75%.
- Those who have divorced friends in their larger social circles are two and a half time more likely to get a divorce than people whose friends are still married.
- You are 22% more likely to divorce is you have divorced siblings.
- In small companies, divorce by co-workers could increase your risk of divorce by 55%.
I agree with the idea something like divorce is socially contagious, but I see the same being true for good marriages. In part, it’s about permission – permission to divorce, or permission to be more loving. There is also the power of peer pressure – living up to or down to the norm for your group.
If your marriage is not as good as it should be, I would suggest you need to assess your friendships. You need plenty of time with those who have strong marriages, and limited time with those who are in trouble. On the other hand, if your marriage is strong, please help those who are struggling by spending some time with them.
Am I suggesting you ditch a friend because their marriage is in trouble? No, but if many of your friends have significant marriage problems, maybe you need to figure out why you seem to be attracted to such people. Are you looking for a group that won’t call you on your marriage problems. Do you want friends who will “be understanding” if your marriage craters? Are those friends pulling your marriage down?
If there is a good deal marriage turmoil, or divorce, in those close to you, I’d see it as a serious warning sign. See it as signal it is time to make your marriage more of a priority.