|Is Divorce Contagious? [Maggie Gallagher]|
The British press is reporting on a new study showing that your divorce risk soars if any of your close friends divorce. This is consistent with a lot of what we know about divorce.
We often act as if divorce is the result of a careful and considered range of alternatives, or that it happens without forethought, for no good reason at all. The truth is that people who divorce have had dissatisfaction in their marriage (like a lot of other people), but most can also identify good things about their marriage. The decision to divorce is not inevitable; it is a decision that often could have gone either way.
I have stopped divorces in my own social circle, simply by saying “It sounds like you would be better off, but there’s not much in it for your kids.”
Gordon Liddy once told me that a woman wrote to him when he was in jail saying she felt sorry for him. He wrote back and said, “I sense sadness in your note,” at which point she unloaded her marital dissatisfactions on him. He wrote back and said, “If you are that unhappy, maybe you should divorce.” A few years later, she wrote back: “You SOB, I’m a poor broke single mother with two kids.”
He thought that was a lesson in how some people need to reflect more. I marveled, “Some guy in jail told her to get a divorce and she did!”
Inevitability is almost always a story we construct afterwards, not the truth before.