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Could your choice of friends be straining your marriage?

Most California couples fall in love with each other and that's why they want to get married. Conversely, they don't necessarily have to fall in love with each other's friends. Perhaps your wife has a BFF who takes her out dancing all night long. Perhaps your husband has a BFF who drags him out to the bar.

In many marriages, the spouses get along great with each other's friends. In other marriages, they can't stand them. In the latter situation, the tension between you and your spouse's friends could put considerable strain on your marriage.

Maybe the Spice Girls were right: Friendship never ends?

The infamous lines from the 1990s Spice Girl hit may have been dead on the money, "If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends. Make it last forever, friendship never ends." According to a professor of psychology from New York's Adelphi University, a partner's distaste for his or her spouse's friends can contribute to the couple's eventual divorce.

Psychologists know that -- when your marriage is in its earliest stages -- if friends and family don't approve of your partner there is a higher likelihood of marital instability. However, there isn't a lot of research on what will happen if your partner doesn't approve of your friends and family.

Adelphi University researchers decided to research couples by asking them questions about how well they got along with their partners' friends. They asked questions like, "Would you rather your spouse not spend time with certain friends?" and other questions to determine how well the spouses got along with or approved of their spouses' friends.

The study showed that when a husband did not approve of the friends of his wife during the first year of being married, there was a higher likelihood of divorce during the 16-year period of the study. That said, this was only the case for white couples.

It's not you, it's your friends

If your marriage feels like it's on the rocks, you might want to consider whether your choice of friends might have something to do with it. Nevertheless, it's not likely that any California divorce can be blamed solely on an individual's choice of friends. Every marriage -- and every decision to dissolve a marriage -- is far more complicated and more dynamic than the people the spouses enjoy spending time with.

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