Relationships and marriage can be a full on minefield. But how do you know if you’re headed for a fall?
Love being fickle, you can’t really predict if a couple are heading for divorce, but scientists have gotten progressively better at predicting who is most likely going to wind up in that situation. It seems to range from a number of factors such as education level and employment status, to the way you talk about your relationship.
Luckily for us hapless lot, Business Insider came up with this handy list of seven factors that could lead to divorce:
Getting married in your teens or after age 32
The main thing before getting married is if you personally feel ready for it and not because you’ve ticked all the boxes on a compatibility test.
It should come as no surprise that research has found getting married in your teenage years put you at a very high risk of divorcing. Further to this, people who marry in their mid 30’s are at greater risk of divorce than those marrying in the late 20s and early 30s.
That’s according to research led by Nicholas Wolfinger, a professor at the University of Utah
For almost everyone, the late twenties seems to be the best time to tie the knot.
Having a husband who doesn’t work full-time
While you might suspect that money especially would have a big influence on this, it’s actually the division of labour according to Alexandre Killewald in a 2016 Harvard study, published in the American Sociological Review.
Killewald found that 2.5 percent of couples in which the husband had a full-time job were divorced by the next year, whereas that figure was 3.3 percent for couples in which the husband didn’t have a full-time job
She concludes that the male breadwinner stereotype is still very much alive, and can affect marital stability.
Not finishing high school
A post on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ website highlights a result from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (1979), which looked at the marriage and divorce patterns of a group of young baby boomers. The post reads:
The chance of a marriage ending in divorce was lower for people with more education, with over half of marriages of those who did not complete high school having ended in divorce compared with approximately 30 percent of marriages of college graduates.
Showing contempt for your partner
University of Washington psychologist, John Gottman, noted there are four relationships behaviours which are a death knell for any couple.
Aptly dubbed four horsemen of the apocalypse because of how eerily accurate they predict divorce:
Contempt: Seeing your partner as beneath you.
Criticism: Turning a behaviour into a statement about your partner’s character.
Defensiveness: Playing the victim during difficult situations.
Stonewalling: Blocking off conversation.
These conclusions are based on a 14-year study of 79 couples living in the Midwest of the United States, and it was conducted along with University of California-Berkeley psychologist Robert Levenson.
Being overly affectionate as newlyweds
Too much of a good thing is bad right? Well unsurprisingly too little of it is also a problem. It’s key to find a balance with affection, think of it like Goldilocks, just sans the bears, if that helps you.
Tud Huston, a psychologist followed 168 couples from their wedding day onwards for 13 years. Huston would conduct numerous interviews with the couples throughout the duration of the study.
Interestingly, one finding from the resulting paper that was published in the journal Interpersonal Relations and Group Processes in 2001 showed that the couples who divorced after seven or more years were ‘giddily’ affectionate.
It would seem that those couples who have a whirlwind start to their romance will most likely not last.
Withdrawing during conflict
‘Withdrawing’ from conflicts is a terrible sign. A study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, found withdrawal from conflict leads to higher divorce rates
The 2014 study found that in most cases, couples are less happy together when one partner pressures the other and receives nothing but silence in return – this is known as “demand/withdraw” patterns.
This sort of thing is a tough pattern to break out of, according to lead lead study author Paul Schrodt, because each partner will blame the other as the cause of the problem
Describing your relationship in a negative way
Analysing just how couples talk about their relationship is a dead giveaway to how they actually feel about it. This procedure was called ‘oral history interview’ and they asked couples about different aspects of their relationship
Another study by Gottman, published in 2000, put 95 newlywed couples through this oral history interview. During the interview they were scored on certain measures predicting strength of weakness of their relationship:
– Fondness for each other
– “We”-ness (How much each spouse emphasizes unification in the marriage)
– Expansiveness (How much each partner elaborates on what the other is saying)
– Disappointment in the marriage
– How much the couple describes their marriage as chaotic