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Law Offices Of Dwight W. Clark L.L.C.

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Local 410-505-8680 | Toll Free 888-523-6081

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What is divorce contagion?

On Behalf of | Aug 21, 2023 | Divorce |

Imagine you’re part of a close-knit group of friends or a tight-knit community where people regularly share their lives and experiences. If one couple in that group decides to get a divorce, their decision might trigger a chain reaction that leads to splits among other couples – both within the core group and among those on the fringe of the social network.

This is called divorce contagion. It refers to the idea that divorce can spread within social groups, much like a cold or a flu. So, if it seems like every couple you know is suddenly breaking up – that might not be an exaggeration.

Why does this happen?

Divorce contagion is a sociological phenomenon, so it actually has a lot of different underlying factors that affect exactly how fast and far the “virus” spreads. Some of the most critical may be:

  • Altered perceptions: Witnessing a divorce up close can change the way others perceive their own relationships. They may suddenly focus more on previously overlooked issues in their own marriages or find their relationships wanting.
  • Envy: Nobody envies someone going through a divorce, but they may envy someone’s new-found freedom once the divorce is over – especially if that friend or family member seems to be really enjoying their newly single life.
  • Changing social norms: The first divorce in a social circle may “break the ice,” reducing any lingering stigma and paving the way for others who are already unhappy in their marriages.
  • Less fear: The fear of the unknown can keep people in place, but seeing friends or acquaintances navigating a divorce can demystify the process and make it seem more manageable. 

Should you be worried?

Not every marriage is equally susceptible to outside influences. Some couples have strong foundations and effective communication, making them less likely to be swayed by the decisions of others. However, if your marriage is already rocky, you may actually have reason to be worried – and that may be reason enough to seek legal guidance about your future.