Friday, June 10, 2011

The Divorce Contagion

If you are a married couple with friends that are divorcing  research  says  your chances of breaking up just increased by 75%. The “break-up” effect drops to 33 per cent if the divorce is between friends of a friend (two degrees of separation) and disappears almost completely at three degrees of separation.

I am guessing that Facebook and other social netowrking sites are included in that "three degrees of separation" part-  but in my circle of friends from Facebook I have developed some pretty close relationships- not counting people I already know and interact with- but complete strangers!  (My husband is not as involved with them as I am- but he knows them by name and nickname and I share a lot of things with him). I talk with a several of them on the phone and we have shared happiness, tears, anger and general tomfoolery. I am looking forward to the day when I get to meet these wonderful women- it will be a get together of EPIC proportions I am sure!

In the last year I have started to see a few  of them head down the road to the BIG D. Divorce sucks- hell I was staring it in it's evil cold eyes not too long ago myself-but I do understand not wanting to be with someone you just don't care for anymore- whatever the reason, and living in abject misery is not worth it.

My reasons were different- there was infidelity involved. Not by me. It was the hardest thing I have ever had to go through  but I wasn't about to throw away 13 years and 3 kids. A year later and we are still together and working our asses off for our marriage.It doesn't always work that way.You can't MAKE somebody love you,want to be with you,or want to work on your marriage.

Back to the original question, IS the divorce contagion applicable to online social groups as well? I mean- I have talked  with my friends about their impending divorces, their desire to be done with a relationship that is clearly  over, their fears, relief and anger- and I think- damn..I am so lucky that my marriage didn't end up another statistic. I listen to them, offer my condolences, offer a drink, and hate their soon to be ex's if that's what they need from me- it's what friends do.

Now- I refuse to believe that me just talking about friends divorcing will cause me to want to get a divorce. If adultery didn't do it- then this sure as hell shouldn't.  But doesn't it make sense that when a friend vents about problems in his/her marriage, you may become increasingly critical of your own relationship?   Are there ways of "inoculating"  your marriage against divorce? Sure there are- and while I am no relationship "expert" - that is a ridiculous title by the way- who the hell is AN expert on relationships?  Every relationship is based on so many different things- how in the world does one become an "expert"?  Maybe well read, and have a lot of knowledge- but I hate the title "expert". However- I digress- I do have some ideas on how to keep a marriage healthy- but they all hinge on BOTH partners wanting it bad enough to work for it- nothing is easy- and nothing will be handed to you.

1)Don’t nitpick every minor defect in your partner, just because your friends might be doing the same. You may start bad-mouthing your spouse to a divorcing friend, to make them feel better. But these words can be very harmful in the long run- festering in your subconscious until you decide your spouse isn't worth it anymore without even giving them a chance.  (I AM a nitpicker and trying SO desperately not to be)

2) Remember your friends attitudes can make you form opinions you might not otherwise form. If you have an issue with something- rather than compare it to what a divorcing friend is going through- talk to your spouse. I have learned one thing- COMMUNICATION IS TANTAMOUNT TO A SUCCESSFUL MARRIAGE!! 

That's it from me- not much. Like I said- these are things I believe to be important- and I believe that a healthy marriage is not going to fall apart when friends' marriages start falling like dominoes.  More than likely those marriages were already in rough shape and not able to be fixed.

I offer condolences and/or congratulations to anyone dealing with divorce right now. Stay safe, and PLEASE PLEASE keep your kids(if you have them) out of the middle of it as much as you can.  Remember- the problems are between you and your spouse as ADULTS. As a teacher- I have seen seen too much of what a nasty divorce that uses the kids as leverage does to the munchkins- they don't deserve that.
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