With a divorce rate in the United States somewhere between 40-50%, taking an active role in your marriage is vital to keeping it strong. Many couples end up wondering “how did I get here?” Being able to recognize signs of trouble in your marriage when they first arise can allow you to remedy the issue before it becomes a bigger problem. Psychologists say that these four behaviors in particular are some of the biggest predictors of divorce. In other words, here’s what to watch out for:
1. Lack Of Communication
Lack of communication is one of the first indicators that things aren’t going so smoothly. Open, honest and respectful communication is vital to any relationship. Ignoring communication with your spouse to watch T.V. or check your phone will make your partner feel unappreciated and unheard. If you’ve gone a few weeks or even days without sitting down one on one to have a real conversation, it’s time to make an effort. When communication suffers, the relationship suffers.
2. Expressing Negative Feelings
Sharing your emotions with your spouse is great, but they shouldn’t all be negative. If either of you are constantly sharing negative feelings or directing those feelings at each other, it will begin to tear you apart. Nitpicking at each other will lead to anger and animosity, which can start you down the long and bumpy road to divorce. If you find yourself filled with negative energy, find a way to de-stress.
3. Decrease In Affection
Decrease in affection is a main predictor of divorce. The newlywed stage rarely lasts forever, and many couples get into a routine and forget to make time for true affection or romance. No one wants to feel unloved or unappreciated. Do your words and actions to your spouse show that you love them on a daily basis? If you feel like you’re stuck in a rut, it might be time to mix things up. Plan a date night once and week and stick to it. Do something different every week. Try dinner, a movie, a dance class or a winery tour. Do something you’ll both enjoy.
4. Lack of Responsiveness
The fourth main predictor of divorce is lack of responsiveness. Listening is a big part of having a successful marriage. Acting uninterested when your partner is sharing their thoughts, opinions or emotions with you will make them feel unimportant to you. Practice active listening by putting away any distractions and making eye contact. Let your spouse know that what they have to say is important to you.
Researchers at the Department of Psychology at the University of Washington accurately predicted divorce 83% of the time and marital happiness 80% of the time based on several factors. These factors included the four mentioned. A marriage full of negativity is sure to bring both partners down. Without communication, affection and responsiveness, divorce might be on the horizon. Whether you’ve been married for one year, five years, ten years or twenty years, it’s important to make sure there’s no room for these behaviors in your marriage.