If you have ever had a friend get divorced, only to have another do the same, you might wonder if divorce is contagious. You would be right. Pew Research analyzed decades of research and discovered that the study participants were almost 75 percent more likely to divorce if a friend got divorced. In small companies, the divorce contagion was about 55 percent.
The divorce "virus" is not like a flu virus that is transmitted physically. This contagion is more likely a psychosocial transmission. For example, when someone close to you gets divorced, it is kind of a passive permission for you to consider your marriage. If you are unhappy, you feel like you can make the same decision. Another explanation is that when someone close to you divorces, you might compare your marriage to theirs. If your sister, who you thought had the perfect marriage, did not make it, then you may feel as if you will not either. Do not forget the "grass is greener on the other side" argument.
Can you divorce-proof your marriage?
Marriage is supposed to be for a lifetime, but you are not the only person in that relationship. You can only control your own actions, which means the fate of your marriage is partially out of your hands. However, there are some things you can do to create a strong marriage:
- Accept that your spouse will grow and evolve over time
- Accept that you cannot change your partner
- Be intentional about your marriage
- Make time for what is important in your relationship, not just the children, but your own connection
- Give your spouse permission to not be perfect without worrying about you leaving. Everyone has bad days and bad characteristics. View your spouse through a soft-focus lens and focus on what is best about the person, instead of the worst
What if your marriage is doomed?
If you do think that your marriage is not going to survive, know your legal rights and responsibilities. You do not have to be adversarial in ending your marriage, but you may need to find alternatives and be creative about it. A cooperative divorce can actually help you find healing from a bad marriage and work together to find the best solutions for everyone involved, especially the children. Do not think you have to separate based on an outdated idea of divorce. Maybe you cannot live with your spouse, but you do not have to become adversaries in a courtroom to find a new life. Talk to a lawyer about your situation.