Six Factors That Predict Divorce
Relationships, including marriages, are never easy, given their complex nature. From financial woes, infidelity to disrespect, many factors can disturb the foundation that a marriage is built on, leading to a divorce if unaddressed.
Here are the six factors that predict divorce.
Of all the predictive factors, contempt is the most prominent one. Based on extensive research, Dr Gottman names the 'Four Horsemen' or four communication habits that are the best predictors of divorce.
One of these four behaviours is contempt in marriage, which according to Dr Gottman, is the "most corrosive behaviour" that can destroy a relationship. It is also seen as the number one predictor of divorce. Contempt involves name-calling, sarcasm, disdain, disrespect, hostility, eye-rolling, or insensitive joking, among others.
It attacks the person's self-esteem or sense of self and is aimed at intentionally abusing or manipulating the partner. One or both partners feel resentful of the other and lose trust or respect for their partner.
Mutual respect, trust, and empathy are the foundational elements of successful relationships, including marriage. Ridicule, insensitivity, and lack of empathy can set up a cycle of destructive behaviour that typically end in divorce.
Contempt basically stems from disrespect and disregard for the partner and can involve:
- A lack of regard for the spouse's freedom and space
- Lack of respect for the other's time
- Insensitivity towards the other's need for safety
- Disregard for the spouse's need for privacy
- Ignoring the partner's need for intimacy, communication, or connection
- Not being appreciative of the other
Criticism is among the four predictors of divorce, as described by Dr Gottman. While a complaint focuses on the specific problem, criticism involves equating what the partner did (a behaviour) with their personal character or personality. For instance,
Complaint: "It is frustrating to see the sink is full of dishes."
Criticism: "you always leave the washing to me because you never care about me."
While some criticism is unavoidable, it is a problem when it implies there is something drastically wrong with your spouse or attacks their character.
Stonewalling is also one of the four horsemen of relationship apocalypse that Dr Gottman describes. If your partner becomes a stone wall when you try to have a conversation (remains silent or looks away), you know that they are stonewalling.
The one on the receiving end of stonewalling can feel their spouse does not care or love them anymore. The person who is stonewalling may be experiencing 'physiological flooding' that happens when the body identifies the conflict as a threat.
The natural survival instincts kick in, which can involve fleeing, fighting, or freezing as a defensive tactic.
Lack of intimacy
Lack of intimacy is one of the top predictors of divorce. While intimacy is an essential aspect of a healthy marriage, reduced intimacy can be due to children or busy work lives.
A temporary lack of intimacy is not a sign of trouble; however, if abstinence lasts for months and, subsequently, years, the chances are high that the marriage may end in divorce.
In a survey conducted to find out the likely reasons for divorce, Singaporeans listed infidelity as one of the major causes.
Adultery can be due to lust or unrequited need for intimacy, unequal sexual needs, anger, or resentment against the spouse.
Being too needy
A partner who is too clingy or demands too much from their spouse is asking for trouble. This can tax the partner's emotions, leading to them feeling forced to give you attention instead of wanting to do so. With no space to do their own thing, the partner may feel suffocated in the relationship and might look to quit.
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