Science Says the Domino Effect of Divorce Is Real

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( — December 30, 2018) — A collective recent study by Brown University, Harvard University and the University of California looked at the rates and circumstances surrounding divorcing couples. The data from the study titled “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do, Unless Everyone Else Is Doing It Too,” suggests that divorce can be catchy, much like the common cold or flu.

According to the data, married couples are more than 75 percent likely to split up if they have close friends who are already in the process of divorcing or who have split up. The research goes even deeper suggesting that even second degree connections up the chance of a couple’s likelihood to call it quits. That means if a friend of a friend divorces, there is still a 33 percent increased chance that the couple’s marriage will end.

Additionally, couples’ with siblings who are divorced are at a 22 percent greater risk. The percentage for a split up is even higher if a couple has divorced coworkers, perhaps because people spend so many hours in close proximity talking and dishing on their life to their coworkers.

While the researchers observed that the reasons varied for friends choosing to pursue their own divorce after watching those in their social circle separate, the rates of divorce nevertheless went up in three quarters of the cases. Sometimes a divorce within the social circle gives other couples “the strength to pursue their own divorce” as they become aware of alternative possibilities other than staying in an unhappy or dysfunctional relationship, explains Erlich Law Office, LLC.

That means that for a couple who is already in a bad place in their marriage watching a friend be “reborn” after a divorce can be the push it takes for the couple to decide to take that route. A divorce that ends in one or both partners being happier than they were in the marriage can look like an appealing and less scary option to outsiders whose marriage is on the brinks.

However, looking at the divorce being contagious, on its own, may be superficial because according to many experts and married couples, all stages of marriage are influenced by societal pressure. People tend to get married and have babies around the same time that their friends and social circle begin making these life choices. It seems that many people simply do not want to be left behind.

It is difficult, therefore, to differentiate whether people are divorcing because the “grass is greener,” as in they believe their divorced friends are living a better life single than hitched, or if people are getting divorced because they were pressured into getting married for the wrong reasons from the start.

Either way experts recommend that if a marriage is facing troubles, couples should first and foremost not ignore the issue, and should seek professional help. The key being “professional” because seeking advice from friends, especially divorced ones, is likely only going to result in the couple hearing biased advice. When it comes to deciding the best route to marital happiness, objectivity is crucial.