Sep 172014 5 Responses

Divorce Is Contagious

Ebola is real. I know that. You know that. Nearly everyone knows that.

Yet in a small country in Africa, a woman in a small village believes the disease is made up. She thinks powerful western countries have invented the concept of Ebola in order to control the people in her village and the surrounding areas.

This perception changes everything. Instead of seeing the missionaries, doctors, and nurses as humble servants who are risking their lives to save her village, she sees them as evil, manipulating, pirates who are attempting to pillage her people.

Instead of seeing the basic sanitary precautions intended to save lives, she sees the hand washing, bandages, and isolation as an evil plot.

Instead of following the simplest of procedures which could protect her, she engages in activity which threatens not only her own safety but the wellbeing of several countries.

A fatal disease is horrendous. A contagious, fatal disease can be devastating.

Until we understand the disease is real and we admit that it is contagious, there is very little we can do to stop it.

Divorce is a contagious disease. (See: How I Predict Divorce Based on the Wedding Cake)

It rarely attacks one couple. It almost always spreads through friend groups, offices, churches, and social gatherings. Couple by couple it destroys marriages, devastates hearts, and leaves a trail of brokenness touching multiple generations.

All the while, we are foolish enough to believe the condition isn’t contagious. We think a friend can show symptoms without it influencing our marriage. We think we can interact with the fallout without needing to take any precautions. We see the destruction without ever considering how we can keep it from  happening to us.

Divorce is contagious, and we are in denial.

The contagious nature of divorce does not mean we should distance ourselves from those experiencing its symptoms. The last thing others need from us is distance or isolation. Those suffering through a divorce need and deserve the love, support, and understanding of a community. We must give them that. We would need it and desire it, so we must provide it. (See: People Do Not Get Divorced Over Money)

However, whenever divorce comes near your family, workplace, church, or other setting, you must recognize its contagious nature and make precautions in order to protect yourself and others.

Divorce is contagious because it can lead others to a false understanding.

It makes people think divorce is normal and a healthy marriage is unusual. Divorce is not as common as one thinks. The idea that your marriage is just a coin-flip is not accurate. Attention goes toward a divorcing couple, but we rarely pay attention to a couple with a healthy marriage. (See: It’s Happening Everywhere)

It causes couples to see common problems as possibly fatal problems. Every couple has problems. Yet when a couple gets a divorce, it can cause others to assume that some couples are perfect. Since we don’t fit the model of perfection, maybe we will get divorced as well.

It can diminish the true pain which a divorce causes. People can put on good faces in public. Many times those going through a divorce try to act as thought they are okay which can give the impression their pain is not deeply felt. It’s rarely true. Divorce is often the most painful thing someone can experience, often more painful than death. When we diminish the pain, we are more likely to see divorce as a viable option.

It can create the illusion that happiness is one relationship change away. Couples who get divorces often quickly (almost always too quickly) jump into another relationship. As they experience the euphoria of a honeymoon period in the new relationship, others can get the idea that they too could be that happy if they would just switch partners. It is a mirage. The best chance a person has for marital happiness is almost always with the person they are currently married to. (See: Why Marriage Matters to the Church)

Because of the contagious nature of divorce and because of our need to love and serve those going through a divorce, we must take some practical precautions whenever divorce comes near our communities.

We must:

Remember the true and painful nature of divorce. While divorce is sometimes necessary, it is always painful. The negative consequences of divorce extend well past our ability to see or detect them. We should never be fooled into thinking divorce is easy or without long-lasting consequences. (See: How to Respond to a Culture of Broken Marriages)

Make great intention to guard our marriage. We should always have some defense aspect about our marriage. Our relationship with our spouse is always under attack. However, when someone we love is going through a divorce, it should raise the alert level within our own relationships. We should be quicker to resolve issues, get help, and take time with our spouse to nourish the relationship. (See: The Number One Cause of Divorce)

Seek relationships with others who are in healthy marriages. In the same way that divorce is contagious, so is a happy marriage. When someone near us is going through a divorce, we should assist them, but we should also assist a healthy couple in order to encourage us and remind us that we can have a marriage which lasts. This should be the great benefit of a church or a healthy community—we should always have couples we can help as they struggle, and we can always have other couples who can encourage us because of their strength. (See: How to Stay Married in the Tough Times)

Divorce is contagious. Few people realize it, yet if you will pay attention you will notice it often happens within circles of friends, offices, and churches. The contagious nature of divorce is hidden, but that only makes it more dangerous. We can’t stop divorce, but we can prevent it from influencing our marriages by recognizing its contagious nature and taking the necessary steps to protect ourselves and others.

For more, see:

Every Marriage Lives Between Two Rings

Change Your Marriage Today

 

5 Responses to Divorce Is Contagious
  1. minaraulston Reply

    I think that this belief that divorce is contagious is harmful to those going through divorce. If a marriage can fall apart because the marriage of a friend fell apart there were problems in that marriage to begin with that need to be addressed. In 1989 I was forced to divorce my abusive husband for me and my children’s safety. But so many people I thought I could trust began to pull away as if we were diseased. Please choose a different way to discuss divorce. As a pastor your word carries more weight than an ordinary person in the pew. Those who already believe that a divorced woman is a leper will grab onto this as a rule of law even though I know your intent was the opposite.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Minaraulston, Thanks for understanding my intent was different than how you interpreted the article. That’s a very fair approach to communication and I appreciate it. I think its important to note that the experience you went through was the exact opposite of what I talk about in this article. What I’m drawing attention to is how divorce can sweep through different groups. No doubt if a marriage fails it shows a prior weakness, but that is my point. When another divorces it should force us to look at our own marriages and to strengthen them.

  2. […] However, in our society where it is very common for second marriages to occur after children are bor... kevinathompson.com/sign-a-prenup
  3. […] It sounds compelling, but it is false. (See: Divorce is Contagious) […]... kevinathompson.com/marriage-still-works
  4. Divorcing Now Reply

    Love much of what you write, but not a fan of this article. With trust and vulnerability in a group, those closest to divorcing families may not suddenly want divorces of their own, but rather be convinced of the pain,trauma and devastation that it brings.

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