Smiles in childhood photos
Psychologists conducted tests that suggest that whether or not – and how – someone smiles in their childhood photographs can predict the likelihood that their marriage as an adult will fail. Frowners apparently have a one in four chance of divorcing. Meanwhile, those with the most intense smiles (rated on a scale of one to ten) are least likely to make a marriage that ends in divorce!
Excessive affection towards each other
Another psychological study suggests that newly weds who demonstrate very high levels of affection for each other are more likely to divorce within seven years. Apparently, this may be down to the fact that lust propelled them into their marriage – and the intensity of this feeling rarely lasts beyond the first few years.
Opposite sex co-workers
You can’t usually influence who you work with or what sex they are. However, studies from Denmark suggest that people who work predominately with those of the opposite sex are 15% more likely to divorce. It’s unclear what’s behind this but, of course, exposure to tempting alternative partners may play a part.
Husband’s negative attitude toward’s wife’s friends
Most people know that someone who stops their partner spending with friends is bad news. However, this sort of control isn’t always overt or physical. Sometimes it’s more subtle. Research indicates that a man who is negative about his wife’s friends is more likely to find himself in the divorce court that someone who doesn’t display such behavior.
Emotional tone of voice
Whether we know it or not, we’re all affected by the tone of voice someone adopts towards us. What’s more, there’s a computer algorithm that can predict – with an amazing 79% success rate – the likelihood of a couple divorcing based solely on the tone of voice they use towards each other.
Whatever you might try to tell yourself, there’s no doubt that poverty makes life very hard. And, despite the often-repeated maxim that “two can live as cheaply as one”, a couple who find themselves in poverty are more likely to split up than one without money worries.
Bottling things up is no good for anyone’s mental health. It’s also no good for the health of a marriage. If you and your spouse ignore your problems, frustrations go unresolved – and eventually one person may simply “snap” and decide they’ve had enough.
Women file for divorce more frequently than men. And studies conducted by sociologists show that adult daughters frequently follow the path laid out by their mother. For instance, a mother who divorces is more likely to raise a daughter who does the same thing and, with divorce rates rising, this is only set to continue.
Unemployment can destroy marriages in several ways. There’s the financial instability and uncertainty it frequently causes. Then there’s the effect on someone’s feelings of self-worth, which, if unchecked can throw a grenade into a relationship. Finally, there’s the risk that one partner may end up working away from home in an effort to keep earning – and this is a well-known risk factor for the stability of a marriage.
Financial worries don’t necessarily equate to poverty. They can affect people much higher up the income scale, especially when interest rates rise or a sudden expenditure is needed. Dealing effectively with financial worries requires good communication between a couple. Unfortunately, and perhaps suggesting that many people struggle with the necessary communication, ongoing financial concerns are a predictor for divorce.
They might seem amusingly 1950s-ish but separate beds aren’t always great for the health and longevity of a marriage. This is especially the case when it’s newly-weds who take to sleeping in separate beds. In fact, taking this option is said to raise the chance that the couple will split within their first few years of marriage.
If you’ve ever had to put up with a snorer, it’s probably no surprise to see snoring in this list. The disrupted nights and inevitable ongoing tiredness – for both people (because a snorer rarely enjoys a restful night’s sleep either) are often very damaging for the couple’s ability to communicate and enjoy each other’s company. Unfortunately, the effects can be significant enough to implode the marriage.
A narrow bed
Narrow beds belong in student dorms not in marital bedrooms. Ensuring each person has sufficient space to stretch out and get comfortable is essential for a good night’s sleep. Without this, the couple’s relationship – and ultimately their marriage itself – can suffer.
A racing heart
We’re not talking about the sort of racing heart you get when your beloved walks into the room after a period of absence. No, we mean the racing heart that some people get in anticipation of imminent conflict or argument with their spouse. This type of racing heart, if it happens regularly enough, is a classic predictor of an early divorce.
There’s a reason many German beds are designed with two mattresses set within the same frame, and two comforters. That’s because the Germans understand that there’s almost always a blanket thief within every relationship. And, if you can’t get your blanket thief to behave more considerately, you may find yourself contemplating the end of your marriage.
Do you and your spouse argue over whether to have the bedroom window open or closed at night? Perhaps he wants it open, telling you that bug screens will keep out insects. Meanwhile, you want it closed, telling him that it’s not bugs but the noise of next door’s dog that bothers you. Whatever the reasons, if you can’t appreciate each other’s point of view and find a compromise, it spells bad news for your marriage.
Different approaches to finance
A mis-match in approaches to money is one of the biggest causes of arguments between any couple. Unsurprisingly, it’s also one of the biggest predictors of early divorce. A relationship split is even more likely if the couple is unable to reach a compromise on when – and how much – to spend.
Overcompensating on social media
Performative posts on social media are cringe-inducing at the best of times. However, couples who regularly post about how marvellous each other is and how much they love their “honey bunny” may be hiding a darker secret. Frequently, these posts are an effort to over-compensate for real-life arguments and resentments that may, ultimately, doom a marriage in its earliest years.
Push back when others say “stay”
It’s natural for someone worrying about their relationship to seek help and support from others. Given that no-one really knows what happens in a marriage apart from the couple concerned, it’s often easy for outsiders to dismiss concerns. “Stay. Work it out,” they might say. However, if your response to such comments is, “Argh! No!” there’s a very good chance that the end of your marriage is in sight.
Poor quality sleep
No-one feels their best after a poor night’s sleep. Lack of sleep affects concentration, appetite, physical coordination and stamina, and mood. And while one or two bad nights are usually tolerable, regular poor sleep can have a hugely detrimental effect on both the affected person and their spouse. In fact, persistent poor quality sleep is an indication of a marriage that’s going south.
You might think avoiding arguments is a good thing. And, of course, it is – at least if you’re referring to the sort of arguments where fists fly, plates smash and small children huddle, crying, on the stairs. However, spouses who never argue may struggle to resolve conflict. Indeed, they may struggle even to address conflict – and that isn’t good for the health or durability of their marriage.
Winning is all-important
It’s tiring to spend much time with someone who values winning above all else. And if that someone is your spouse, you can end up not only feeling tired but brow-beaten and somehow….lesser. If your spouse values winning (whether that’s an argument, or just a discussion about where to go on vacation or what to have for dinner) over your right to have your say, you might as well not bother with the marriage. After all, it’s definitely not one of equals.
Some people really enjoy a good argument. In fact, some people enjoy an argument so much that it’s almost a sport for them. And being married to such a person is no fun at all. You’ll find yourself frequently provoked into arguing over things that, when it comes down to it, you really don’t care about. Unfortunately, the provocation suggests your spouse doesn’t care much about you or your marriage…
No room for forgiveness
Just as some people find saying “sorry” difficult, others struggle with forgiveness. Of course no-one can demand forgiveness. However, ultimately, if your spouse never forgives you for anything, you’ll end up questioning their love for you. And once that happens, you’ll quickly come to question whether you want to stay in your marriage.
Constantly talking about leaving
Threatening to leave is… threatening. Even if the person saying it doesn’t really mean it, their spouse will inevitably feel unsettled and increasingly insecure. If it’s a threat that finds a place in every heated discussion or argument, there’s a good chance that someone is eventually going to do just that.
The green line test
The green line test is a theory that is supposed to predict a relationship’s dynamic and hence its longevity. A man who leans into his partner in a photograph is supposed to be needy and feel that he’s of lower status. As a result, any marriage to that partner is more likely to end sooner rather than later.
Good communication is always two-way. However, if one spouse always shuts down the other whenever they try to initiate a conversation, they’re shutting down the possibility of effective communication. The result is damaging for the mental well-being of the person who’s being shutdown and ultimately also likely to prove fatal for the marriage.
One partner doesn’t know how to love
You’ll have heard people say how you can’t have a successful relationship unless you love yourself. And this may be true. However, fewer people talk about the effects of being loved (as a baby, a child, a teen, and a young adult) on a person’s ability to love someone else. Sad to say, someone with little or no experience of being loved may struggle to love – or at least express their love – for a partner. In a marriage, this can prove catastrophic.
Poor communication skills
Not all of us are born with excellent communication skills. For many people, good communication is a skill to be acquired and refined. Without it, those around us can feel unheard and unvalued. This is no good for any sort of relationship and, if it’s a problem between spouses, it’s a strong indicator that the marriage will fail.
New life fantasies
Who doesn’t sometimes dream of running off to live all alone in a cozy house by the sea (or wherever represents your favorite bolthole)! However, while fantasies are fine – even healthy – it’s bad news if this one preoccupies you. If it’s the first thing that crosses your mind whenever your spouse opens his mouth, yawns in that irritating way, or comes home late again, it’s a sign that you might be house hunting for real soon.
Never the priority
It’s unreasonable to expect to be someone else’s priority all the time – even if that someone else is your spouse. However, if you are never their priority, you need to wonder just how much you actually rate in their estimation and how much they value you. Research suggests that a spouse who routinely prioritizes other people over their partner is likely to be fatally damaging their marriage.
Not each other’s “go to” people
If you have a problem or a concern or a success to share, who do you turn to? If you’re married, the natural answer is surely your spouse. Except, of course, when it isn’t. Not every married couple has this sort of “go to” relationship – and those who don’t are moving into the stormy section of their relationship’s barometer.
Communicating through the children
It’s not good for the kids and it’s not good for you. A couple who resorts to communicating through their children – no matter whether those kids are toddlers or teens – are not doing well. Just as with the ill-fated couple in L.P. Hartley’s classic novel, you can expect this sort of communication to spell bad news. And, for a married couple, this may ultimately equal divorce.
It’s always hard
Anyone who tells you that a great relationship is not work at all is talking rubbish. Every relationship has its ups and downs, which require some measure of compromise and work from both parties. However, a relationship that is all work is barely worthy of the name “relationship”. Accordingly, a marriage that’s all about arguing, retreating from an argument, analyzing arguments and so on is likely to founder.
Very few therapists come out and say it like it is. As a result, if you ever find yourself faced with one who does, you can be pretty sure they mean what they say and don’t think it prudent to wait for you to work it out for yourself. If a therapist suggests your marriage is bad news, you’ll probably listen.
Effort does not equal improvement
Although as we’ve already noted, every marriage requires a certain amount of work, you’d expect that work to have some sort of pay-off. Perhaps it’s increased emotional intimacy or a better understanding of each other’s concerns. Whatever the pay-off, it’s important it’s there. If all that hard work gets you nowhere, you might as well not bother – with the work or the marriage.
Finding emotional intimacy elsewhere
Affairs aren’t always physical – and sometimes they’re even more damaging for that. Someone who may find it in themselves to forgive a contrite partner for a physical affair may really struggle if the same partner has found emotional intimacy elsewhere. It’s rather like they’ve checked out of the relationship. No wonder, then, that an emotional affair is one of the strongest predictors of divorce.
No spiritual or emotional connection
The dopamine rush of physical attraction rarely lasts the distance – at least not at its initial levels of intensity. A successful long-term marriage depends on a spiritual or emotional connection between the spouses. Without this, the relationship is built on sand and is likely to sink.
The mental load
Women – and it is usually women – who feel responsible for the ongoing mental work of running a household frequently become increasingly resentful at their husband’s abdication of responsibility. Sure, he might have a job (but, then, she probably does too) and, yes, he’s tired (but isn’t she?) but opting out of the mental load says, “I’m too important for this”. In the end, the put-upon partner may decide the marriage isn’t for them.
It’s healthy for a couple to have some separate interests and different friends. However, if there’s no overlap between their lives – no shared hobbies, no mutual friends, no interesting topics in common – the couple is likely to grow apart rapidly. Sometimes this happens with little animosity and sometimes it stirs up distrust. Either way, it’s bad news for a marriage.