Love & Relationships

Can You Guess the Biggest Predictor of Divorce?

Research shows contempt causes most divorces.

Marriage doesn't come with a crystal ball. There's no indicator of whether it'll be a fairytale or end in divorce. Or is there? 

John Gottman,author of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, has spent four decades at his Gottman Institute studying couples and found a pattern among those that didn't stay together. So, what is his number one predictor of divorce?

Contempt is holding grudges, rolling your eyes and refusing to let go of the past. "All relationships involve ongoing, perpetual problems that will resurface," Mike McNulty, an expert at the institute, tells Cosmo. "Partners who do not handle discussions of these problems well are at the most risk of divorce."
But be careful. Discussing issues while angry can lead to splitsville too. "Partners who are headed toward divorce have the following tendencies: They become angry and use what we call the 'four horsemen of the apocalypse or negative patterns of communication, which are criticism, contempt, stonewalling, and defensiveness," says McNulty. "This leads to something we call 'diffuse physiological arousal' or 'flooding' [which involves] one or both partners' bodies releasing hormones as heart rates accelerate, muscles become tense, the skin becomes hot or sweaty, and the stomach feels nervous."
How do you know when you're heading towards a full-on contempt session? "Besides the eye roll, another sign is the lifting of the upper lip to make a sneer," says McNulty. "It's an overall attitude of disgust at one's partner and/or a sense of superiority."
Before your next argument, check your face and take a deep breath!

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