If your marriage is in trouble, you might be worried about what—if anything—you can do to reduce your chances of divorce. What if someone told you that it’s possible to predict the odds of divorce with more than 90% accuracy? Now you can save your marriage by avoiding these four predictors of divorce.
If you’re anything like many couples in troubled marriages, you might not want to know whether you’re in the group that’s most likely to divorce.
If you want to save your marriage, though, it’s vitally important to know which behaviors have the capacity to destroy lasting love and recognize the glaring signs of divorce.
Become aware of key predictors of divorce
Rather than thinking when to end a marriage, you should become aware of key predictors of divorce and address these issues now. By doing this, you can significantly improve your marriage, all while reducing the likelihood that you’ll end up duking it out in divorce court.
Famed relationship expert John Gottman, a psychologist who works with couples, has been researching marriage for decades.
After observing thousands of interactions between couples, he’s determined about four predictors of divorce. These “four horsemen,” as he calls them, have enabled him to accurately predict divorce even among couples who seem happy.
If you’re ready to get your marriage back on track, then it’s time to overview these predictors of divorce and leave these nasty behaviors in the dust.
1. Criticism is one of the key predictors of divorce
Sure, we all can itemize a list of things we’d like to change about our partners.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with voicing concerns every now and again. Doing so can even spark creative conflict that leads to real solutions.
When criticism becomes a daily experience, though, your marriage can quickly be destroyed. Constant criticism is one of the warning signs of a failing relationship.
Gottman says that troubled marriages typically display about eight negative interactions to every positive one.
In other words, troubled couples may complain eight times before offering a single compliment. The better ratio, according to Gottman, is to offer five compliments for every one complaint.
The takeaway? There’s nothing wrong with talking about your problems, as long as you do so in a context where your partner feels loved and admired. If you continue lashing out at each other, and refuse to sensitize yourself to your spouse’s feelings, it is one of the signs you’re headed for divorce.
2. Contempt easily qualifies as another predictor of divorce
When you live with someone day in and day out, it’s normal to get angry every now and again.
Contempt takes anger one step further by attacking your partner’s sense of self. Behavior rooted in contempt treats your partner as if they are bad instead of labeling a specific behavior as problematic.
Over time, contempt destroys intimacy and leads to more criticism, defensiveness, and stonewalling. Contempt in marriage, where you act like your partner is not worth your time can be categorized as one of the unhappy marriage signs you’ll get divorced.
Avoid contempt by focusing on your partner’s behavior.
Recognize contempt as a major predictor of divorce and never call your spouse names, avoid yelling, making threats, and engaging in similar behaviors that devalue your partner. Doing this can help to save your marriage.
3. Stonewalling can become a predictor of divorce
It’s natural to want to escape conflict.
Our brains are wired to encourage us to either run or fight when under immense stress, but this response can quickly wreck your marriage.
Stonewalling—the refusal to engage in discussion and the persistent avoidance of emotional talks—can quickly undermine your marriage.
So common is this behavior that many pop psychology and relationship guides advise couples to embrace stonewalling.
But allowing your partner to withdraw from emotional discussions is a recipe for disaster and one of the signs you should get a divorce.
Stonewalling conveys the message that the marriage is unimportant and the problems you’re facing are unsolvable. And because stonewalling shuts down discussion, it quickly renders your problems unsolvable, taking you one step closer to divorce court.
There’s nothing wrong with taking a 10 or 20-minute break if you’re worried you’re going to lose your temper. Thereafter, though, you need to return to the conflict and patiently listen to what your partner says.
Leaving, shutting down and playing video games, or simply refusing to engage can all lead to more misery – snowballing into becoming a deadly predictor of divorce.
4. Steer clear of defensiveness
It’s natural to want to defend yourself when you feel attacked.
Persistently refusing to accept your partner’s requests for behavioral changes, though, is like a one-way ticket to divorce.
Defensiveness inhibits your ability to solve even the most basic problems, and increases the likelihood that you’ll behave in cruel or even abusive behaviors – subsequently becoming an inevitable predictor of divorce.
Worse still, defensiveness often results from a climate in which one or both parties feel constantly attacked, so this behavior may signal a host of other problems.
Signs a divorce is imminent include being overly defensive and dismissive of your partner’s opinions and emotions.
Instead of wondering when is it time to leave a marriage, you should aim at beating this predictor of divorce hollow.
Focus on finding solutions and allow room for healthy conflict resolution, even if you don’t like what your partner is saying.
No one is perfect, but accepting criticism is the key to getting your marriage back on track.
It’s not easy to steer clear of hurtful behaviors when you’re angry.
Living with another person, though, means adjusting your way of doing things, even when it’s uncomfortable or frustrating.
Divorce is infinitely more painful than accepting responsibility or making a few behavioral tweaks, so keep that in mind next time you feel tempted to lash out.
Should you consider enlisting the help of a professional?
While it is important to work at restoring a healthy marriage, it is also crucial to find an answer to the question, how do you know you want a divorce.
To help you figure out the answer to the question, “when do you know it’s time to divorce”, or “how to know if you need a divorce”, it would be helpful to read this article to gain valuable insights into how do you know you need a divorce.
It is also highly recommended to consider reaching out to a marriage therapist who might help you with getting to the roots of the marital problems, and possibly saving the relationship.
However, even if you both decide to end the marriage, a divorce therapist can help you navigate the unfamiliar challenges of this unhappy situation, bring respite from the troubled partnership, make a smooth transition and adjust to divorce.