Two separate findings by reputable researchers has come up with definitive answers to that very question.
If you really want to know if you’re on track for a lifetime of marital bliss or headed for the divorce courts, read on…
What’s the one thing couples do that can predict divorce with 93 per cent accuracy?
John Gottman, founder of the US Gottman Institute and arguably the most respected relationship researcher worldwide found this single behaviour to be ‘the kiss of death’.
He studied 79 couples for 14 years.
Twenty one couples divorced during the study and he was 93 per cent correct in his prediction of which couples that would be.
His prediction was entirely based on identifying those couples who showed contempt for their partner – a sign they saw them as beneath them rather than an equal.
The contemptuous couples also showed other key negative behaviours – criticising, being defensive and stonewalling (sulking and refusing to talk for days on end).
Since then (the study was published in 2002), years of research – including a recent study of 373 newlywed couples – has supported his theory that all of these behaviours strongly link to split-ups.
What are the two questions that can predict divorce?
This research was done by two economists from the University of Virginia in the US.
They looked at how 3,597 couples answered two questions at two different points in their relationship – once during the beginning of the survey (1987 to 1988) and again six years later.
Question one: On a scale of one to five, with one being much worse and five being much better, how do you think your level of happiness would be different if you and your partner separated?
Question two: How do you think your partner’s level of happiness would be different if you and your partner separated (using the same scale)?
It’s pretty obvious how the answer to the first question reflects what state your relationship is in.
But it’s your answer to the second question – and whether or not you’re correct – that’s more important.
This is one of the first studies to suggest that misjudging your partner’s satisfaction with your marriage – thinking they’re happier than they are or less happy than they are – can make you more likely to split up.
If you don’t know how your partner feels about you or your relationship, it’s a massive red flag that you’re disconnected and don’t share feelings and concerns.
You passed both those tests?
Good for you – but you’re not out of the water yet!
Here are some other surprising things that researchers found mean your relationship is in danger:
Being the ‘boss’
You’d think the one who didn’t call the shots would be the unhappiest, but it’s the other way around. The person with the most authority feels less fulfilled. Equality in relationships is crucial.
Being over optimistic
Being negative won’t get you anywhere but having too high expectations of the relationship usually leads to disappointment.
Putting your partner on a pedestal
Being over-idealised puts strain on the ‘perfect’ partner, who feels they can’t show insecurity or flaws.
Over-analysing the relationship
Constantly questioning whether you’re in love enough/close enough/how well you’re doing makes both of you nervous and ruins trust.
This story was written by Tracy Cox.
You’ll find more advice on love and relationships at traceycox.com