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divorce contagionThe decision to file for divorce may be contagious, according to a new study conducted by researchers from Brown University. The findings revealed that if couples are friends with other couples going through a divorce, they are 75 percent more likely to experience one for themselves.

Furthermore, if their friends have friends going through a divorce, the “original” couple is 33 percent more likely to get a divorce.

The good news is that two degrees of separation was where the influence ended. In other words, if a friend of a friend of a friend is signing divorce papers, that should have no bearing on you.

Social Contagion

According to head researcher Rose McDermott, writing in an upcoming article to be published by the journal Social Forces, “Approaching the epidemiology of divorce from the perspective of an epidemic may be apt in more ways than one … The contagion of divorce can spread through a social network like a rumor” — what sociologists refer to as “social contagion,” or “the spread of information, attitudes and behaviors through friends, families and other social networks,” Pew Research reports.

With divorce so common, it can be discouraging to look around your friends list and see that, by the terms of the study, you could be at risk. However, deconstructing the cause can allow you to take preventive measures against it.

First: Learn How To Disconnect. 

You know by now that always staying connected to your smartphone is a bad idea, particularly when you’re driving or spending quality time with your significant other. We suggest treating your friendships like a smartphone. Put them down every once in a while and don’t get sucked in to other people’s problems, even if they’re very dear friends. It’s okay to be a good listener, but don’t make their divorce a factor in your marriage. If you and your spouse find yourselves talking about your friends’ marital problems, it could lead to developing some of your own.

Next: Don’t Forget To Be A Couple. 

Once you’ve learned to tune out the marital noise brought on by a friend’s divorce, you and your spouse should make time to date and get away from the influence. Go about your lives as you would if you didn’t know about your friends’ pending divorce forms, and treat your marriage like a lifelong courtship.

Remember that no matter what studies and statistics say, your relationship is yours and your spouse’s alone. Make the most of it, and best of luck!

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