Geologists and meteorologists can predict natural disasters by studying environmental causes and conditions. Why not take a scientific approach to the melt-down of marriage? As it turns out, social scientists uncovered some of the most common divorce predictors. A recent article in Business Insider revealed their findings.
While none of these factors are definitive harbingers of divorce, understanding the signs and symptoms of marital distress may shed light on why your relationship is struggling. These indicators may also serve as “early warning signals” to help head off a split.
- Breadwinner Disparity. Although it’s typical for both husband and wife to be gainfully employed, for some couples, not all income is considered equal. A 2016 Harvard study, showed that in couples where the husband didn’t have a full-time job there was a higher probability of divorce than couples where the husband held a full-time job. The wife’s employment status; however, didn’t affect chances of divorce.
- Contempt Can Kill. Not surprisingly, contempt, criticism, defensiveness and stonewalling are consistent divorce predictors. Psychologist and founder of the Gottman Institute, John Gottman, calls these the “four horseman of the apocalypse” when it comes to relationships.
- Daily Stress Takes Its Toll. Just as stress can contribute to a host of emotional and physical health issues, it can erode the happiness of relationships. A study published by the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships found that “when considering everyday stresses, participants reported trivial daily events to be one of the main reasons contributing to their decision to divorce.” Participants in the study “considered the accumulation of everyday stress as a central trigger for divorce.”
- Words Can Become Reality. How you talk about your marriage can become another indicator that your marriage may be heading for divorce. Couples who speak in negative terms about each other or their relationship, or those who chronically express disappointment may simply be underscoring the difficulties —or undermining their chances of reconciliation. On the flip-side, the study published in the Journal of Family Psychology showed that couples who express fondness for each other, talked in terms of “we”, and engaged actively in conversations with their spouses were less likely to part ways.
If you recognize these factors in your marriage, it might not be too late to reconcile the issues. Consider seeking the expertise of a marriage counselor or family law attorney to help you determine your next steps.