It's a crazy statistic to think about, but almost half of marriages in the United States don't last, according to research conducted by the American Psychological Association. On top of that, second and third marriages have an even higher rate of divorce in the U.S. But is there a way to know whether your relationship will last or not? Turns out there are some fights between couples that can predict divorce.
From endlessly arguing over money, to whether to have kids, there are some common fights that stand out as indications that your relationship might end in divorce. Most of the research out there points to different fighting styles that can either complement or detract from your successful marriage. According to a 2010 University of Michigan study that followed newlyweds for 16 years, there are four key behavior patterns that, when done repeatedly, can be the "'kiss of death'" for your marriage. Indicators include constant criticism, contempt, and defensive behaviors. While some fights can be constructive, the research concluded that couples with destructive conflict behaviors within the first year of marriage had higher rates of divorce.
The also found that couples who were more on the same socioeconomic level may fight differently than couples who had a substantial wage gap between them. The study was an updated version of one The Gottman Institute conducted in the '80s, that said that couples with opposite fighting styles were more likely to divorce (i.e. an avoider or conflict minimizer paired with one who always wants to passionately duke it out). So what kinds of fights can lead to divorce? From financial tension to a build up of small, seemingly inconsequential things, here are nine fights that can predict divorce.
In the Gottman study and the University of Michigan study, the major predictor of divorce was differences in fighting styles. If you couple that with one of marriages' biggest stressors, money, that's a big indicator the relationship might not work out. According to the Huffington Post, differences in spending styles can lead to big fights that might end a marriage. This can lead to resentment that builds up, and then ends the marriage.
Stonewalling is blocking off conversation or walking away from conflict before it starts to get really heated. According a study from the University of Washington and the University of California Berkeley, stonewalling, along with contempt, criticism, and defensiveness, could predict divorce 93 percent of the time. This type of avoidance prohibits any type of closure or resolve from problems.
Does it seem like your partner is always picking apart your behavior and habits days after they've happened? For example, you left the mug on the coffee table, and they waited two whole days to bring it up. This nit picking can lead to resentment down the line and feed into negative and destructive behaviors in a marriage. The aforementioned Gottman Institute survey said that the problem is that you or your partner are focusing on specific behaviors, like selfishness, instead of talking about their feelings by saying something like "I wanted some too, can we share?"
You're the victim in this fight and your partner just doesn't want to deal with it. A study from the U.S. National Library of Medicine observed that defensiveness in a relationship is one of those horror signs that the marriage is failing because it's a destructive behavior.
Not all fights that are destructive end in the marriage falling apart. According to counselor Dr. Yvette Stupart, if one of the five fights you have has a constructive element to it (you both acknowledge each other and have a respectful and productive fight that reaches resolve), then it's less likely you'll get divorced. However, if this ratio isn't followed or more of your fights are destructive, it's a strong indicator that the marriage will end.
Do you see sarcasm, eye rolling, insults, mockery, or other hostile behaviors in your fights? Hostility fighting styles are the most likely to end in divorce if not changed and checked.
This is about meeting needs and expectations. "When couples are not able to fulfill each other’s sexual needs and desires, dissatisfaction in marriage is quite the obvious result," marriage counselor Steven Stewart wrote on Marriage.com. Sometimes couples communicate intimacy and love through sex, and if they're not getting enough of it, it can make them feel unneeded and unloved. On the flip side, if you feel like your partner expects more than you are willing to give, it is a an indication that you two might not be compatible in that way.
In the end, this is an argument about two very different lifestyles. Maybe you've talked about it before and avoided it, or maybe you always knew and they never listened? The decision to have a child is a biggie, and I know many couples who couldn't quite sustain after failed IVF treatments or knowing they couldn't conceive.
According to a divorce law firm Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor, one thing they constantly see as a reason for divorce are religious, cultural, or fundamental differences. If you're always fighting about whether the children are going to be raised Kosher or take communion, then it's time to reassess.
After reading all of this, it might sound pretty grim. But the silver lining is that it's not too late to recognize when you're participating in destructive behaviors and find out ways to turn them into constructive conversations. The moral of the Gottman Study and other subsequent ones stems from differences and not acknowledging them. By knowing what type of behavior you're prone to, you can find ways to communicate your needs to your partner and improve the relationship.
Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:
Watch full episodes of Romper's Doula Diaries on Facebook Watch.