Troubled Marriage? Here Are the Top Divorce Predictors
There are many interesting statistical predictors of divorce such as: if your parents were divorced you stand a 40% chance of getting divorced; or if there are significant money problems and large debt your marriage runs a high risk of divorce (perhaps as much as 40-45%).
However there are other divorce predictors that have to do with the way spouses behave towards one another.
Many of the following divorce predictors, even on their own, are potentially damaging enough to destroy a relationship. However, it is often not just one but several of these predictors that come to bear on a relationship causing it to degrade.
In another of my blog posts: Reality Check, The Distressing Truth About Divorce, I try to explain how the impact of divorce is usually quite devastating. I point out that there is always collateral damage to family and children as well as significant financial impact on the family as a whole.
Therefore in reading about these divorce predictors I recommend you think carefully about whether any one or more exist in your marriage. Too often couples wait too long before coming to marriage counseling. Don’t let your marriage fall victim to that cliché “too little too late”.
Review these divorce predictors to see if any one or more is present in your relationship. If so, it is time for you to take action to make change occur.
Partners regard each other with Contempt: When partners are so disappointed with each other that the over-riding emotions are scorn, hate or disgust the relationship is probably at its’ lowest point. You are likely not surprised that this would be true, however there are couples who have allowed their relationship to slide this far into the abyss and have almost become accustomed to the abusive nature of this type of marriage.
Negative feelings outweigh positive feelings: There is a general sinking or unpleasant feeling about the relationship. There is very little feeling of hope or excitement about the future. This general sense of negativity often gets demonstrated in cynical, gloomy or pessimistic statements about oneself, one’s spouse or the relationship. Friends or even family might decide to keep their distance as exchanges between the partners seem toxic.
Conversations quickly degrade into fights: Successful couples are able to discuss their differences in ways that can improve their relationship. In unhealthy relationships the partners have not learned how to discuss their differences or everyday issues without arguing, sometimes in the extreme. Cutting remarks, unhealthy criticism and a lack of genuine regard for the other partner’s thoughts and opinions, are often the rule rather than the exception.
Inability to resolve conflict: The skills necessary to resolve conflict need to be acquired; you are not born with them! Many people have been raised in families that did not develop such skills. As adults they often fall back on the behavior they observed and learned as children. This skill set can be learned more quickly than you might otherwise think. Conflict resolution techniques can help to prevent divorce.
Emotional disconnect: This is when one or both partners lack an empathetic connection with the other. They may feel that they are unappreciated, unloved and even invisible at times. The fear of letting oneself become vulnerable and open up to the other is too great. There is a sense that they are in a two dimensional relationship, just functioning day to day with a person who appears more like an alien or a stranger than a partner. Emotional engagement is necessary for the development of the intimate feelings that a couple needs to have in order to achieve intimacy and thrive.
Laughter and good humor are no longer present: Fun, jokes and a good sense of humor has been replaced by anger, numbness and a somber mood. There is a sense of heaviness and gloom that pervades the atmosphere, hanging over it like a dark cloud. Good humor and laughter is essential to a healthy relationship. When it is totally gone, the couple is in trouble. Couples coming in for marriage counseling will often say that they don’t laugh or have fun anymore. Look for early signs of this.
Physical Disconnect: Touching, holding hands and kissing are either forced or rare occurrences, if they occur at all. Sex may happen but it too is a rare and unsatisfying event. There is a lack of affection that sometimes translates into the statement that we have fallen out of love. A spouse may feel numb, uninterested or even repulsed by the idea of making love with her partner.
Outside Focus: When either one or both partners find themselves enjoying greater satisfaction at work, with personal friends or recreational activities, it is frequently because the relationship has become stale, boring or empty. (See my post: How to Improve Your Marriage and Spice up Your Sex Life). The energy that once went into creating a gratifying marriage is now being used to find gratification somewhere else. This outside focus can also include seeking out other partners for the love, understanding and sex they are not getting at home.
Unfortunately many couples take their marriage for granted. They get caught up in the stresses of life, don’t communicate effectively with their spouses and begin to form resentments. We all have to work for the things we value in life, your marriage should be one of them and rebuilding it is often quite possible.
About the Author
Dr. Stan Hyman is a licensed psychotherapist and life coach in private practice in Miami, Florida. He works with couples struggling with powerful issues such as infidelity, careers and intimacy. He also specializes in treating addictions, anger, anxiety, stress, depression and work life balance.