Ft. Lauderdale, FL- Why? We always want to know why marriages end. What causes a relationship to breakdown? Why can’t spouses make their marriage work? They married for love after all, but people really want to know what makes that love fade and head to the divorce attorney. The reasons marriages end are many,  predictors don’t necessarily mean a couple is doomed to divorce but when we understand then things that lead to divorce we can confront the problems before they cause a rift in a marriage.

Among friends and family, divorce is a contagion

If a friend or family member gets divorced, you might catch the divorce bug. A study conducted by Brown University found that divorce among friends can act as a contagion and like the flu can spread from one friend to the next.

Researchers studied 5,000 married couples in Framingham, Massachusetts, for a period of 30 years, collecting information about their marriage, divorce and remarriage. Participants were not only asked about their marriages but were also asked to disclose the names of their friends and family members.

Researchers found that a couple was 75 percent more likely to divorce if a close friend or family member divorced. If they a friend of a friend divorces, a married couple is 33 percent more likely to end their marriage,

The study suggest that like the flu which can spread from friend to friend, divorce is a contagion that can spread through the divorcing couple’s network of friends, family and other social groups.

“The contagion of divorce can spread through a social network like a rumor, affecting friends up to two degrees removed,” Rose McDermott one of the authors of the study explained to Psych Central.

A serious illness can make a marriage unstable

A University of Michigan study of 2,700 couples, with one partner who is over the age of 50, found that when a one spouse becomes seriously ill, the a couples chances of divorce increases

Researchers analyzed 20 years of data and looked at how four major illnesses– cancer, lung disease, heart disease and stroke—affected the marriages of participating couples. They found that 31 percent of couples divorced after the onset of a major illness. In nearly half of those cases, 15 percent, it was the wife who fell ill, according to LiveScience.

“When the wives became ill, about 50 percent of the marriages ended in divorce,” Amelia Karraker, one of the study’s researchers explained to LiveScience.

Exactly who initiated the divorce was not examined, but in previous studies show that women are more likely to initi Karraker believes women divorce their husbands because they are unable to adequately fulfill their role as caregiver and women turn to friends or family to provide them with the care they need.

Researchers believe that if a man initiates divorce from an ill spouse, they are likely seeking a healthier spouse.

A better education for women is not a predictor of divorce

There has been this long-standing notion that women who have a higher education than their husbands are more likely to divorce. But a recent study from the University of Wisconsin showed that marriages where the wife has a higher education may actually contribute to the longevity of a marriage.

After studying data between 1950 and 2004, researchers found there has been a shift between the breadwinner/homemaker models to a “more egalitarian model.” Couples married between 2000 and 2004, with comparable levels of education, were a third less likely to divorce than couples with disproportionate or lower levels of higher education, according to PsychCentral.

Schwartz said the “findings [of the study] are in line with a shift from breadwinner/ homemaker model to a more egalitarian model.” She says the study suggests that is “now more common for wives to have more education than their husbands.”

The study entitled “The Reversal of the Gender Gap in Education and Trends in Martial Dissolution” was published in American Sociological Review.