Divorces can be contagious. A recent study has shown that couples with friends who have divorced are 75 percent more likely to end their marriages. And if a friend of a friend divorces, a split is about 33 percent more likely. Seeing a friend going through a divorce can cause one or both partners to evaluate their own marriage and happiness. In some cases, divorcing friends give each other the strength to move forward.
Domino Divorce Phenomenon
The joint study conducted by Brown University, Harvard University and the University of California observed the social implications surrounding friends of divorcing couples. In some cases, a divorce within the social circle gave others the strength to pursue their own divorce by seeing the possibilities. Just as studies have shown that suicides can be contagious within a social circle, so can divorces. This is because humans are prone to copying behaviors of those they associate with.
Knowing someone that has gone through the divorce process can lead an unhappy spouse to assess his or her own situation. The point may be further driven home as the newly divorced person begins a new relationship that is exciting and fun. Thinking that the grass would be greener, the married friend could lament his or her stale marriage.
Not All Doom and Gloom
Seeing a friend go through a divorce can open eyes as to what problems might be present in a couple’s own marriage. Domino divorce typically doesn’t happen with couples who have strong marriages, and this awakening does not always mean that divorce is imminent. It could also be an awakening as to what is right about a couple’s relationship. But when problems do exist, it can be a wake-up call for what issues need working on to save the marriage. This can be as simple as:
- Discussing their problems and working on solutions with a marriage counselor
- Making the effort to pay attention to each other
- Going away for a couple’s weekend without children
When both partners make a concerted effort to address the issues in their relationship it could reinforce their bonds and make their marriage stronger to beat the odds of this phenomenon.