All people want that love of a lifetime, but practice shows that this kind of scenario is a rare exception to a harsh reality. In Europe, people have started to get divorced 2.5 times more often and get married 2 times less often within the last 50 years. The good thing is that foreseeing a divorce is possible and it is backed up with scientific research.
We hope that there will be more happy and strong families in the world. That’s why we studied a bunch of research and chose the 9 most distinct divorce forerunners that scientists have spotted.
1. The number of smiles in their childhood photos
Psychologists conducted a series of tests to try to understand whether it is possible to predict divorce from childhood and youthful photos. In one study, scientists looked at pictures from a college yearbook and rated the intensity of smiles on a scale of 1 to 10. The assessment was based on the stretching of 2 muscles: one tightened the mouth and the other created wrinkles around the eyes.
None of those whose smiles were rated a “10” divorced. At the same time, every fourth person got divorced among the frowners. In general, results show that people who look gloomy in photos get divorced 5 times more often than those who smile.
2. The emotional tone of their voice
A computer algorithm can predict the success of a marriage, with an accuracy of 79%, using only the tone of the spouses’ voices when communicating with each other. Scientists analyzed the conversations of more than 100 couples who were seeing a psychologist and then watched their marital status for 5 years.
It turns out the intensity, pitch, “jitter,” and “shimmer” can indicate strong emotions. “What you say is not the only thing that matters, how you say it is also very important. Our study confirms that this holds for a couple’s relationship as well,” scientists say.
3. Colleagues of the opposite sex
According to Danish researchers, people who work mostly surrounded by members of the opposite sex get divorced 15% more often. The study of this issue arrived on a larger scale when they studied all the couples who got married from 1981 to 2002 in Denmark. They found that 100,000 of them have already gotten divorced.
4. Mother’s upbringing
© Mamma Mia! / Universal Pictures
It’s women who file for divorce more often. Moreover, there have been studies that showed that most couples copy the behavior of their parents, especially their mothers. Sociologists studied the behavior of 7,000 people and found out that if a mother got into a new relationship, quite often (whether it was marriage or just cohabitation), their adult kids would behave the same.
5. Ignoring conflicts
John Gottman named 4 harbingers of imminent divorce: disdain, the position of a victim, critics, and ignoring conflicts. The “Four Horseman of the Apocalypse” seems innocent at first sight, but it’s actually a very dangerous behavioral strategy in practice. Just imagine, you feel that you are ready for a hot debate on an issue that has been annoying you for quite a while and your partner suddenly stops supporting the conversation.
It might seem that spouses can manage to keep the peace by doing this, but it’s wrong. Though debates and quarrels are not the best part of communication in general, they still help to dot all the i’s. They are needed to figure out the unresolved issues. If one keeps ignoring these situations, more and more frustrations go unresolved.
6. A husband’s negative attitude toward his wife’s friends
Scientists analyzed the relationship of 373 couples, over 16 years of marriage. It turned out that 46% of couples had divorced by their 16th year of the marriage, and oftentimes the husband’s criticism of his wife’s friends in the first year of their marriage predicted that break in the future.
According to scientists, this is due to the fact that relationships between women and their friends, which are characterized by emotional closeness and support, last longer, while male friendship more often depends on joint activities. Accordingly, it is easier for men to change the circle of their communication and more difficult to come to terms with their wife’s friends, who they find unpleasant.
7. Newlyweds’ excessive affection toward each other
© Modern family / 20th Century Fox Television
Psychologist Ted Huston studied 168 couples within 13 years of their marriages. The results were published in the Interpersonal Relations and Group Processes journal in 2001, which stated, “When being newlyweds, the couples who got divorced 7 or more years afterward, demonstrated almost 1/3 more affection toward each other than spouses in more successful marriages.”
This is due to the fact that the couples who started a relationship with strong romantic feelings were more likely to break up because it was very difficult for them to maintain the intensity of those feelings. “Believe it or not, marriages that start out with less ‘Hollywood romance’ usually have more promising futures,” says expert Aviva Patz.
8. Poverty and unemployment
It’s quite obvious that living in difficult conditions is not easy. The relationships in these families stop more often than in financially stable families. Bob Birrell, the co-author of a study about financial outcomes for parents after separation, confirms it.
“People think the system acts in a draconian way to take money out of the pockets of men. The reality is that most separated and divorced guys are on such low incomes, they pay very little toward the well-being of the mother and their children.’’
9. Narrow bed
Spouses should sleep separately or on a very wide bed for their mental and physical health, to get good sleep, and for a healthy environment in the family. Scientists studying sleep problems have found that 30-40% of couples sleep in different beds. And that’s actually good because poor quality sleep can lead to divorce. Therefore, if you want to keep your relationship strong, make sure you sleep well.