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Are You Headed for Divorce?

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When is it time to throw in the marital towel?

couple arguing

Dr. Wendy Walsh: Fifty percent. Yep -- it's no secret that the divorce rate is 50% in America. And that's for first marriages. Second marriages have a 60% divorce rate, according to Psychology Today. Clearly, that's a sobering statistic if you're sitting at your desk pondering the knock-down, drag 'em out war of words that you had with your husband last night. Every married person who hits a rough patch has the same thought pattern: Are we headed for divorce? When is enough, enough?

Social researchers have now answered those questions for us. There are a plethora of statistics out there that can help predict divorce. But before I break down the research for you, there are also a couple things you should know about statistics. First, statistics are really helpful to determine trends, but they mostly look backwards. So, simply saying that something has a statistical probability doesn't mean it's a given. It means that's what happened to a significant amount of similar people before.

And there's one other huge thing about statistics: They rarely look at causality. Most divorce studies compare two factors, like age of marriage and divorce rate, but that doesn't mean that being young causes divorce. Making stupid decisions in Vegas when you are 23 might lead to a rocky marriage, but plenty of other factors in that rocky marriage get the blame for the breakup. Make sense?

So, with that disclaimer, here's the Dr. Wendy Walsh divorce test. If you answer "yes" to most of the questions below, you have a statistical probability of getting divorced:

1. Was your courtship less than one year?
2. Did you live together before marriage?
3. Were either of your parents divorced?
4. Is this your husband's second marriage?
5. Do you make more money than your husband?
6. Do you keep separate bank accounts?
7. When you fight, do either of you blame, defend, or stonewall?
8. Does the husband need to "win" most arguments?
9. Were either of you under the age of 25 when you got married?
10. Do you practice different religions?
11. Are your family and friends unsupportive of the marriage?
12. Do either of you have a heart rate increase and breathing pattern change right before you discuss a conflict?

Again, let me reiterate. A high score doesn't mean you are guaranteed to spend some heart-wrenching days in divorce court. This data might suggest, however, that your marriage may need a little more attention and TLC than others. Marriage therapy can give partners so many tools to help them combat all the struggles that couples face today, and at any stage of a marriage, learning new relationship tools can only make us better people.

There's one thing that causes every divorce: One or both partners failing to do the work of intimacy and connection. The more intimacy both partners have, the more empathy. The more empathy and understanding, the more fair the fighting, the more honest the love, the greater the commitment.


next: Mom's Miscarriage Brought to You by Twitter
6 comments so far | Post a comment now
Sam December 14, 2009, 8:26 AM

My husband and I were both 19 when we married, my parents are divorced, we dated for only 9 months before getting married… We also keep separate bank accounts. We have been married for close to 8 years and are very happy! There is no doubt we will be going strong in another 10-15-20 years!

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