Sarah feels sick to her stomach. She just found out that her best friend’s marriage is over. Sarah always thought that her friend, Kay had a healthy relationship, but it seems that appearances were deceiving. Even Kay was surprised to discover how unhappy her husband was-- especially after she caught him cheating with another woman.
When Kay called Sarah to tell her the news, she was in shock. Kay always believed that her marriage would last forever and is bitter to realize how wrong she was. Sarah is determined to help her friend through this difficult transition, but she’s feeling sick about all of this for another reason too.
A more personal reason.
Up until now, Sarah has also believed that her marriage to her husband, Jack would last forever. She admits that they don’t have a perfect relationship, but who does?! With this huge upheaval so close to home, Sarah is starting to worry that something will happen to her own marriage.
She feels vulnerable and worried.
Although it seems irrational, Sarah fears that her friend’s divorce will somehow negatively influence her own marriage.
If you’ve ever had a friend or family member get a divorce, you might share similar fears. Obviously, divorce is not like a cold or the flu virus. You can’t literally “catch” divorce just because someone close to you is going through one.
But, then again, being near a couple who is splitting up may have unwanted effects on your own relationship. A recent study by researchers at Brown University suggests that divorce often happens in clusters. When a person finds out that a peer is getting a divorce, it spurs that person to assess his or her own marriage-- perhaps with a more critical eye. Because someone known to the person is choosing to end his or her marriage, somehow the prospect of divorce seems more acceptable and maybe even preferable to another.
Is this like peer pressure? Well, not really.
Just because a friend, family member or co-worker is getting a divorce, it doesn’t automatically mean that your marriage is headed down that road too. You can’t “catch” divorce. However, if you and your spouse have been shoving down dissatisfaction and denying unhealthy habits, hearing about another person’s divorce, may signal to either (or both) of you that you don’t have to put up with the unhappiness any longer.
The big lesson for couples is this...
Don’t get lazy or stick your head in the sand.
Make the health and happiness of your marriage a top priority and continue to do so. When problems develop (and they inevitably will), address them as soon as you can and work together to create new habits that nurture and grow your relationship.