“Did he have a girlfriend? Was he cheating?” These are usually the first questions asked when news of a divorce spreads. It was the very first thing someone very close to me asked when told my ex and I had separated.

It seems simple. Married + Cheating = Divorce. I am divorced and have many friends who have also gone through it. Some of us were cheated on, some of us did the cheating and some of us experienced no infidelity at all. Couples get divorced never having had a scandal and couples do work through affairs and maintain long lasting and successful marriages. Divorce is not as easy as A+B=C.

Divorce can hit a social group hard and the first couple to go down evokes fear in many homes. “If it happened to them, it can happen to us. They seemed so happy. How can they do this? What about the kids? Something really bad must have happened.”

Truthfully it’s very often not something huge, not something terrible. It’s a culmination of daily, weekly, monthly and yearly, minor transgressions. It’s a lack of communication, trust, friendship, respect, shared values and dreams. It’s problems that don’t go away. It’s fighting that gets ugly or worse, when you give up the fight and accept less. It’s not about socks on the floor or a sucky Valentine’s Day gift and it’s not about cheating.

People ask, with hope in their eyes, about potential adultery because if that’s what causes divorce then all they have to do is avoid that and they will be OK. Don’t step out on your mate and you will be spared the trauma of the second most stressful life event. Cheating = divorce is a simple equation, one that is understandable, one that is easily wrapped up and tied with a bow. The reality that formerly happy couples divorce for hundreds of small things that are entirely unique to each couple is harder to swallow and harder to avoid.

The good news is that divorce isn’t contagious. Don’t be scared if it comes into your group and lives are altered. Divorce is not airborne, but the glimmer of opportunity does travel in the air. Take the opportunity, especially if you’ve been complacent; to take a look at your own relationship and look at what’s going on inside your own four walls. Look at the big and small in the light of day.

Divorce will not “happen” to you. Divorce is a choice that is made. A+B=C means squat. Because, we are not equations. We (most of us) are highly evolved, thinking, feeling, acting and reacting humans that make choices. Divorce might only be the better of two terrible choices but it is a choice.

So forget the equations. I have. I was never very good at math anyway.