Yes, maybe. The idea that divorce is contagious is based on social network studies that suggest people are influenced by the behaviors and attitudes of their friends and family members. Research has shown that if someone in your social network gets divorced, you might be more likely to get divorced as well. This phenomenon can be explained through various social and psychological mechanisms.
One study published in the journal “Social Forces” in 2013 found that divorce can spread through a social network like a contagious disease. The study suggested that having divorced friends or family members can increase a person’s likelihood of getting divorced by up to 75%. The researchers concluded that social influence is a significant factor in the spread of divorce within a social circle.
It’s important to note that this doesn’t mean divorce itself is a disease or that it spreads in a literal sense. Instead, it highlights the impact of social influence on individual behavior, including decisions related to marriage and divorce. People may be influenced by the experiences and choices of those around them, leading to similar decisions in their own lives, and the impact should not be understated. One study indicates that approaching the incidents of divorce from the perspective of an epidemic may be completely appropriate and that understanding the reciprocal influence between your network and your marriage can help protect against the negative influence the network can have, much like understanding how a virus passes within a network cluster.
It’s also worth mentioning that while social influence can play a role, individual relationships are complex, and the decision to divorce is influenced by a wide range of factors, including personal values, communication patterns, and individual circumstances. Not everyone who knows someone who has gotten divorced will necessarily follow the same path. Additionally, the study referenced found that at three degrees of separation there’s little to no likelihood of a divorce’s impact on your own marriage.
In summary, while divorce itself is not contagious, the likelihood of divorce can very much be influenced by the experiences and decisions of people in one’s social network, and the company you keep matters in your marriage. Tending to the marriages of your friends in a supportive way can help strengthen your own marriage and guard against divorce.
It should be noted that the researched led by Rose McDermott of Brown University, caution that their study has limitations and may not be representative of the country as a whole, as their research was based upon the Framingham Heart Study, a long-running health survey of individuals in Framingham, Massachusetts. The study participants are better educated and less likely to be divorced than the general U.S. population.
The Smith Firm lawyers understand that divorce is not the choice of many and there remains a desire to reconcile and avoid divorce. Understanding the ramifications of a divorce may assist in evaluating the option for both parties and potentially change a party’s mind as to their desire for divorce. If reconciliation is an option we don’t want to be the type of attorneys who stand in the way because we want to see marriages succeed. If The Smith Firm can assist you in evaluating your options, contact us at (405) 843-1000, or schedule a consultation today.