Siblings and Risk of Divorce

Can past family dynamics positively affect a marriage and perhaps even lower the risk of a divorce?  According to a recent study, yes it can.

Ohio State University researchers found in their recent study that the more sisters and brothers you have the less likely you are to get divorced.

According to the co-author of the study, Donna Bobbitt-Zeher who is an assistant professor of psychology at Ohio State University, “Having more siblings means more experience dealing with others, and that seems to provide additional help in dealing with a marriage relationship as an adult.”

The study, which analyzed data collected from approximately 57,000 people in the United States between 1972 and 2012, found that each sibling that an individual has – up to seven – reduced the likelihood of divorce by two percent.  Researchers found that any additional siblings after seven did not provide any additional protection from divorce.

The most surprising finding of the study according to the researchers was that there was virtually no difference between having one or two siblings or being an only child.

Doug Downey, co-author of the study, said, “Growing up in a family with siblings, you develop a set of skills for negotiating both negative and positive interactions.”  Growing up in a large family will give an individual more opportunities in practicing how to deal with and talk through problems.  Downey feels these experiences gives people good foundations for adult relationships, relationships that include marriage. 

The study will be presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in New York City.  The co-authors did state that until the study is published in a peer-reviewed journal, all conclusions and data from their research will be viewed as preliminary.

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