While the number of marriages continue to decline, the number of divorces has been on a steady rise for the last two decades.
If you are thinking about getting married, or if you are searching for ways to improve and even save your current marriage, there are a few things that can predict the success of your marriage overall.
Here are 7 things science says can predict divorce amongst a married couple.
1) Timing is Everything
Research suggests that couples who married in their teens or their mid-thirties are more likely to get divorced. This seems reasonable given that most teenagers aren’t even who they will be in life yet, and most 30-somethings are often trying to reinvent themselves and make big career moves.
Want to improve the chances of marital success? According to science, getting married in your twenties is the best option.
A study found that after age 32, odds of divorce increase by about 5% each year. The lead researcher was stated as saying that, “for almost everyone, the late twenties seems to be the best time tie the knot”.
2) Successful Partners
Studies have shown that when one partner doesn’t hold down a full-time job, the couple is more likely to become divorced. This makes sense given that it is very hard to support two people, or more, on one income, and if one person is the “breadwinner” in the relationship, it can lead to contempt, animosity and even divorce.
Putting the pressure on one partner to hold down the fort financially is difficult and can leave the other partner feeling unneeded in the relationship.
3) Education is Key
Another study found that people who have finished high school tend to stay married longer than those who never finished high school.
In addition, people who completed post-secondary education are more likely to stay married over people who didn’t go to college. It turns out that people who are accomplished in school can also be accomplished in life and marriage.
Psychologist Eli Finkel sums up why this might be the case:
“What I think is going on is it’s really difficult to have a productive, happy marriage when your life circumstances are so stressful and when your day-to-day life involves, say three or four bus routes in order to get to your job.”
4) Keeping Things To Yourself
If you don’t talk about things that are bothering you, you’ll find yourself in divorce court faster than if you take the time to discuss your problems, concerns, worrying, and family issues. Couples who quietly loathe their partners, rather than discussing their issues, are more likely to get divorced.
According to psychologist John Gottman, these 4 behaviors tend to predict divorce:
1. Contempt: Seeing your partner as lower than you.
2. Criticism. Questioning your partner’s character by their actions.
3. Defensiveness. Constantly playing the victim in tough situations.
4. Stonewalling: Avoiding conversations.
5) Letting the Flame Die Out
While hot and heavy seems like a great way to start a marriage, it can put a lot of pressure on the rest of the relationship to stay that way.
A research study found that couples who were overly affectionate towards one another often resulted in divorce 7 years later.
Every marriage goes through periods of ups and downs in their love life, and couples who expect that things will always be like that when they got married often get divorced.
Setting expectations related to sex and intimacy early on can really put a damper on things when kids come along, jobs get in the way, or life happens in general. Couples who think the honeymoon phase will last forever are sorely mistaken.
Psychologist Aviva Patz explains it: “Couples whose marriages begin in romantic bliss are particularly divorce-prone because such intensity is too hard to maintain. Believe it or not, marriages that start out with less ‘Hollywood romance’ usually have more promising futures.”
6) Not Communicating With Each Other
Every couple has its share of arguments. Those who want to remain married put the time and effort into the overcoming arguments and disagreements.
Those who shut down and can’t communicate their feelings are less likely to succeed in marriage, according to a 2014 study.
It makes sense: if you can’t talk to your spouse, who can you talk to? If you want to have a long and happy marriage, get used to talking about the good, the bad, and the ugly together.
7) Thinking Negative Things
If you talk about your spouse in a negative way, you are more likely to be destined for divorce court than people who always talk about their spouse in a positive way.
A study in 2000 found that the level of positivity or negativity one used to speak about their marriage tended to predict the strength or weakness of their marriage.
If you have trouble saying nice things about your partner, it might be best for you to part ways. If, however, you want to improve your marriage success rates, try saying something nice about your spouse first. You know the rule: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Negativity breeds negativity.
Being married is hard work. It takes a long time to figure out what works and what doesn’t work. Those couples that stay married are the ones who are willing to continue to try to figure out what works instead of focusing on what doesn’t work. Couples who are willing to work on themselves and their marriage are more likely to remain together for years to come.
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