Is Divorce Contagious?
If it seems like divorce is contagious, that's because it just might be. According to a recent study, you may be 75 percent more likely to get divorced after close friends go through a divorce. These results don't apply to just good friends, since even if a friend of a friend gets divorced, you're 33 percent more likely to also get a divorce. Even your family's marriages can affect you, since you may be 22 percent more likely to get divorced if your siblings have ended a marriage. Clearly, there seems to be a connection between your social circle and your chance of divorce. If you're wondering why that is, take a look at these common reasons.
When you spend time listening to a friend complain about his or her marriage, it's hard not to relate back to your own marriage. Maybe you hear your friend saying his wife doesn't appreciate him, and as he gives examples, you realize you can relate to a few of them. Or maybe a good friend claims her husband never wants to be at home with her, and you start thinking about how your own spouse is rarely around lately.
Either way, you might start to focus on the negative as you listen to friends complain about their relationships. This could result in you making a small issue bigger than it really is, causing you to worry about a minor problem that could unravel your relationship if you let it. Or, you might start reflecting on a problem that is actually there, and that could be a good reason for divorce. In this way, your friend's divorce could in fact lead to your own marriage's end.
If you're tired of your spouse expecting you home at a certain time, or if you've dreamt of a life with no nagging to take out the trash, it's easy to feel envious of your newly single friends. They get to go out and come home any time, and they get to experience the excitement of the dating life once again. While it can be perfectly normal to live vicariously through your single friends even when you're happily married, there's a point when it may go too far. You might realize you're not just happy for them, but actually jealous because you want the same lifestyle.
If this is the case for you, it's probably time to step back and evaluate your marriage. Think about whether you're happy now. If you're not, do you want to fix the relationship, or do you just want to end it and start fresh with someone else like your divorced friends are doing? And then consider whether you're envious of your friend's free time and fun social life, or if you're jealous of the possibly better relationships he or she is finding while dating. If it's the former, it may be time to simply set up more social functions for you to enjoy, either with your spouse or with your friends. But if it's the latter, you might want to explore the idea of divorce, or at least marriage counseling.
Also, keep in mind that your friend may only be telling you all the positives of his or her new life, and leaving out the downsides. So don't base your decision entirely on the idea that your friend's life is much better now, because that might not be the case.
There's a lot of pressure in society to stay married, and to fix any problems in the relationship rather than get divorced. This is especially true if you're religious or simply have a fairly traditional family and friend circle. So you might have thought about divorce before, but you didn't feel brave enough to be the first in your social group to end your marriage.
But when a good friend gets divorced, that fear or embarrassment you're feeling might start to fade. Essentially, the social stigma goes away. Now you won't be the only single person in your social circle if you decide to get a divorce, and you'll have someone to lean on during the process. And if a friend is further along in the divorce process than you, he or she can let you know what to expect when it comes to the amount of time and money it will require. In a way, the end of your marriage may bring you and your divorced friends closer, which is a benefit you might even be able to look forward to.
These are some of the most common reasons that divorce often feels like it's contagious. If your friend's divorce has led you to start reflecting more on your marriage--and you're finding problems you don't want to deal with anymore--it may be time to talk to a legal professional who can let you know what to expect from divorce. Note that you can get a free initial consultation without committing to divorce just yet, so don't be afraid to look at all your options before making a decision. If you're ready to find out more about the divorce process, come to the Law Offices of H. William Edgar today for a free consultation.
Attorney Bill Edgar is the managing attorney at the Law Offices of H. William Edgar, APLC. There are 6 family law attorneys with offices in Riverside, Temecula, Anaheim and Palm Desert.