Is your best friend getting divorced? If so, your marriage may be the next to feel a strain.
According to a recent study undertaken through a joint university effort, divorce may be a bit like a bad cold: highly contagious. Even worse, there's very little you can do to inoculate your marriage against a divorce -- except maybe avoid your friend for a little while until the danger is passed.
The study indicates that whenever someone you consider a friend divorces, your own odds of divorce increase by an incredible 75 percent. Perhaps even more striking, just knowing someone peripherally -- like the friend of one of your friends -- ups your odds of a divorce by 33 percent!
Why does it happen that way? There's no one obvious answer, but there are several possibilities. If your friend recently got divorced and you start to feel like your own marriage is lacking, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Were there already problems in your marriage?
If there were, your friend's divorce may have simply brought your own troubles into focus and made you conscious that divorce is an option. If that's true, it may be time to think about contacting an attorney after all.
2. Are you starting to focus on your partner's faults unnecessarily?
When your friend talks about what went wrong in his or her marriage, do you chime in with stories of your own to empathize? If so, you may be accidentally focusing your attention on your partner's negative qualities -- and overlooking the good ones. You may need to spend some time looking at your partner's better attributes for a while to shake the spell.
3. Does your friend make being single look exciting?
If so, make sure that your marriage isn't falling victim to something as simple as boredom. Your friend may have a new-found enthusiasm for life after going through a rocky marriage, and that may make being single seem more attractive than it really is.
A friend's divorce doesn't have to be toxic to your marriage. Don't be surprised, however, if it causes you -- and others in your social circle -- to think seriously about whether or not separation and divorce is something to pursue.