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Can a friend's divorce cause a Pennsylvania couple to split up?

Nearly every married couple in Pennsylvania spends at least some time examining their marriage. It is nearly impossible to live with someone and not have an occasional issue with each other. A recent study says that this introspection may lead to divorce if a family member or friend gets divorced.

Researchers are likening this phenomenon to a contagious disease. It can be inferred that this social contagion is a driving force behind the country's high divorce rate. People superimpose the situation of a friend or loved one onto their own marriages, and problems can arise that previously were not there.

When listening to a friend explain why he or she is getting a divorce, it can be easy to apply his or her reasoning to one's own marriage. In fact, the data gathered for the recent study indicates that 75 percent of couples who have a divorced friend end up divorced as well. If that person is a friend of a friend, the percentage of divorces decreases to only 33 percent.

With a national divorce rate of nearly 50 percent, it could be difficult to find any couple who does not know someone who is divorced. It may be an oversimplification to say that Pennsylvania couples are basically copying their friends and family. Every couple has real issues that are unique to their marriage. When those issues are serious enough, seeing another person end their marriage successfully could give someone the courage needed to do the same.

For many, the decision to divorce may not be as important as how they go through the process. If there are children involved, the parties are going to be connected through them for the rest of their lives. Taking the time to work together and come to a mutually satisfying divorce settlement could give the parties the best chance at continuing to be the best parents they can be, even if they are no longer together.

Source: CBS New York, "New Study Says Divorce Can Be Contagious", , April 30, 2014

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