Imagine with me a pond. The clear , still water reflecting trees above. A sense of stability and consistency abounds. Sounds in the distance resound like a whisper. Time stands still .
Plop! A pebble is dropped off the shore and immediately there is movement. Circles of change begin around the pebble's imprint. Creases of water move , slowly , but ever increasing and ever expanding. Soon the outer ripples lap against the shore with a soft resonance. Fish have been disturbed, a bird has fluttered away, and people have watched with eyes mesmerized as the ripple effect has once again captured those who are near.
Imagining that scene reminds me that you and I are the pebbles, in the ponds of our relationships and what we do will be felt by others. The pond is made up of close family, extended family , friends, coworkers , community and society as a whole. Our pebble's effect can be positive or negative and much of it we are in control of and responsible for.
As adult children of divorce, we see many effects that our parents divorce has had. But I was surprised to read of the influence that one person's divorce has on another person's marriage. In my own life, I began to watch those around me within the past several years. When a divorce occurred, it seemed that not too long after, another divorce of someone associated with the first divorced couple came to light.
While reading the Life After Divorce blog , the author shares that after her divorce of 11 years, her mother saw her daughter's new life and treated it as an "awakening" and divorced her husband as well. Not only did the daughter go through her own divorce, but the divorce of her parents within a short amount of time. The author stated that her parent's divorce was more difficult that her own divorce. It seemed that one divorce influenced the other divorce.
Good Morning America did a segment back in July 2010 called "Is Divorce Contagious?"
James Fowler ( University of California San Diego professor) seems to think that divorce spreads like a virus. The statistics are very high that if a sibling or especially a friend divorces , you have a greater likelihood to as well. Watching someone in an unhappy marriage find perceived happiness pushes others to think and act in similar fashion.
In my humble opinion, I have noticed that older people are trying to be like younger people. Is that a cultural shift? I don't know. But I question whether other generations of young people wanted to be older, more mature, selfless, have responsibility and settle down with stability and purpose. Is it that today's values have shifted? The older people want to be younger, selfish , immature ....and travel and have less responsibility and purpose, except for personal pleasure and the good life , at the expense of other more lasting, meaningful things? I don't know. I just wonder. Does this ripple effect hit us in a negative way, while generations, people staying together was the ripple that influenced the society in a positive way? Lots to think about.
Regardless, our choices affect others!! Your pebble will make ripples. What kind of ripples do you want to make? Research has shown that smoking, drinking, weight gain does spread in social groups. The opposite is true : healthy living, eating and healthy relationships encourage others in those areas !
So, when you realize the effect others have on YOU: Find other pebbles who show healthy behaviors and drop with them. In marriage, surround yourself with others who value commitment and counseling and communication.
And when you realize the effect your marriage has on OTHERS marriages: Nurture your relationship. So much more is at stake than just the "two of you". Be positive with your spouse, take time to talk and work through problems. Establish goals and a vision that is greater than your marriage and family.
When you see that your pebble will drop.....it will make waves ( ever it be so small or big) and when you see that your little pebble will serve as a catalyst for change in others lives and worlds, you will want to think about the ripple and the effect and do what you can to make it a positive source of movement in YOUR pond!!!!
If you want your life to count ( FOR GOOD ) , if you want the ripple effect of the pebbles you drop to become waves that reach the ends of the earth and roll on for centuries and into eternity, you don't have to have a high IQ or EQ; you don't have to have good looks or riches; you don't have to come from a fine family or a fine school. You have to know a few great, majestic, unchanging, obvious, simple, glorious things, and be set on fire by them , ( and then live by them, being aware of how your decisions have great impact beyond yourself!) "