Does it seem like everyone around you is separating or divorcing? Is your sibling going through a divorce? How about a close friend or coworker? If that’s the case, you may want to put some social distance between them and you.
According to recent research by McDermott, Fowler and Christakis, divorce occurs in social clusters. Not only does the divorce of a friend increase ones own chance of a divorce, but also the divorce of a friend’s friend. It doesn’t even matter if the friend’s friend lives several thousand kilometers away. It is all about social distance. However, by the third degree of separation, there isn’t that great of influence. It is just friends, and friends of friends.
The study even looked to see if children were a protective factor. Contrary to popular belief, they are not a protective factor when friends, and friends of friends are divorcing around you.
The notable protective factors in the study were education and ‘popularity’. Education in this case included young grades. So the more education collected, the more of a protective factor. The decrease happened the most after 10 years of education.
As for popularity, this isn’t the popularity we think of. Or else Hollywood marriages would last longer. Popularity in this sense is about supportive and quality friends. One needs to choose their friends wisely. Having friends that encourage, support, and have good expectations of you, help protect your marriage.
You need to have supportive friends in order for your marriage to succeed. You married your best friend. If you have friends that are undermining your best friend, you may need to reevaluate your friendship. This may sound unreasonable, but you may need to even remove certain friendships. Purge your Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and Christmas mailing list of individuals you know shouldn’t be there.
Of course, family members you have to set up appropriate boundaries with if they are undermining your marital relationship. This may mean less phone calls, or visits. Again, remember we are talking about social distance, not geographical distance. Yes geographical distance from family members may assist, but spending less time with them limits their social influence.
Your spouse is worth that sacrifice. Making sure that your friends and family are supportive. Make sure that you have healthy networks and connections. You can choose who you have a social life with.
Most of all, don’t try to be a friend who is a “savior”. Yes it is good to be there for your friends and help them through certain life struggles. But don’t let their issues effect you, especially if they continue in their harmful ways without progress. You need to protect yourself.
Just remember, breaking up is hard to do, unless others are doing it. So keep yourself in a supportive network.