Does divorce run in the family?

Published on 12 Oct

Divorce effects many families in the UK, with 101 055 divorces filed in 2015 according to the Office for National Statistics. Although this figure is decreasing, down 9.1% from 2014, divorce is till a live problem in today’s society.

The main causes of divorce are assumed to be infidelity, abuse, money, lack of intimacy, lack of communication or previous relationships. However, genetics can also play a role in divorce rate!

A study carried out by researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University and Lund University Sweden, and to be published in the journal Psychological Science, investigated Swedish populations and found that adopted children tend to resemble their biological parents when it comes to divorce history and not their adoptive parents.

Previous literature has long suggested that divorce is psychologically transmitted across generations as children of divorced families internalise their parents conflict and lack of communication and replicate these behaviours in their own relationships.

As a result of this previous research, therapists tend to focus their sessions for distressed couples on boosting commitment, intimacy and interpersonal skills. However, this new research suggests that for those couples who have a family history of divorce, there should be a focus upon more basic personality traits that have previously been genetically linked to divorce such as negative emotionality and low levels of restraint, both of which may have a negative impact on close relationships.

This research will hopefully provide therapists with a better strategy for helping distressed couples during this emotional time.

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