Can Having Siblings Decrease Your Risk of Divorce?

According to a study by researchers at Ohio State University, people who are raised in a large family have a lower rate of divorce than the general population. While the margin of decreased risk is only two percent, sociologists evaluating the study believe that the number is significant. Donna Bobbitt-Zehel, one of the authors of the study, believes the results indicate that a childhood full of sibling relationships fosters superior negotiating skills and the flexibility necessary to stay married.


The study does not show a significant difference in the rate of divorce between only children and those with one or two siblings. This suggests that people with many siblings get more practice in the skills later contributing to a successful marriage. The study's authors cite these key skills:

  • The ability to read social cues - Knowing how to evaluate interpersonal dynamics can help couples learn to choose their battles.
  • The ability to identify and speak up for one's own needs - Having the ability to take care of oneself encourages autonomy in a relationship.
  • A willingness to accept faults - Letting the little things go helps couples maintain a peaceful home.
  • A willingness to make sacrifices - Seeing the big picture helps maintain the integrity of the relationship.
  • None of this suggests that those without a large number of siblings cannot hold a marriage together. However, it does seem to suggest that people raised in big families are forced to practice the skills that become essential over the life a marriage.


    Even with this two percent in your favor, the country's high divorce rate speaks volumes. However, individuals who cultivate interpersonal and negotiating skills in their family of origin might just have the upper hand in a divorce as well. Someone who is well-versed in the arts of listening, assessing and working to find alternative and creative solutions is an excellent candidate for mediation.

    If you are headed for divorce and both parties agree to enter mediation, we advise you to seek legal counsel. Contact the San Diego law office of Steven M. Bishop to discuss your divorce mediation needs.

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