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Is Divorce Contagious?

07/08/2010 Comments (16)

A friend of mine worried to me many years ago that his wife was hanging out with a woman who’d recently been divorced. He said he believed that their friendship was having a negative effect on his marriage. At the time I didn’t see how that could be but it seems I was wrong. My friend’s wife left him within that year.

That’s purely anecdotal I know but now there are scientists now saying divorce leads to more divorce.

Scientific research coming out of Brown University studied the marriages of 12,000 people and discovered “divorce clusters” and have concluded that if a friend of yours divorces the chances of you getting a divorce increase by 75 percent.

The researchers even concluded that even the divorce of a friend of a friend increases your likelihood of a divorce by a third.

Daily Mail reports:

The researchers describe the effect as ‘divorce clustering’ - and believe that break-ups within friendship groups force couples to start questioning their own relationships.

They say that a friend’s divorce can also reduce the social stigma of splitting up, even when children are involved.

As a culture we don’t seem to take marriage all that seriously anymore. But let’s face it we don’t take others in general very seriously anymore. We worry about ourselves a lot more than we worry about helping others. In bookstores I typically see a lot more people in the “Self-help” section than the Christianity section.

Divorce is a disaster, especially for children involved. Maybe before considering getting married or getting a divorce we should consider our family, our friends, and yes, even friends of friends. We do not live on islands. We are all connected and touch each other’s lives in more ways than we’ll ever know.

When I take my five children anywhere I try to make sure that we are all on our best behavior. All of us. Not just the kids. I try to make sure that I appear calm and smile as often as I can. Why? Firstly, I believe my kids take comfort in a smiling and calm Dad but also I don’t ever want to be an excuse someone uses to not have more children. I don’t want someone pointing to a harried me chasing after a screaming child as a reason to not have children.

As John Donne wrote that “No man is an island” we all know we affect each other with our decisions. Just about every decision is a moral one whether we like it or not. We are responsible for each other. It is an awesome and frightening prospect - kinda’ like marriage.

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About Matthew Archbold

Matthew Archbold
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Matt Archbold graduated from Saint Joseph's University in 1995. He is a former journalist who left the newspaper business to raise his five children. He writes for the Creative Minority Report.