What Predicts Divorce?

After studying over 3000 couples over a period of 30 years, marital researcher and author of 7 Principles of Making Marriage Work, John Gottman, PhD, states he can predict divorce with a 91% accuracy rate from merely listening to 5 minutes worth of a couple fighting!


Below are his four predictors of Divorce:

1. The Harsh Start-up

If within the first three minutes, a discussion starts out blaming and accusatory or with negativity the discussion has a 96% chance of being doomed!


2. The Four Horsemen

These include:

a.         Criticism – taking it from a complaint about a behavior to making it global about the person’s character;

b.         Contempt – usually follows criticism, it includes sarcasm, cynicism, name-calling, hostile humor all of which convey disgust;

c.         Defensiveness – usually involves blaming the partner and actually escalates the attack; and finally,

d.         Stonewalling – following all the above, one partner tunes out and shuts down.


3. Flooding

This occurs when one Partner’s negativity is so overwhelming and so sudden that it leaves the other “shell-shocked!”  People usually Stonewall when flooded.  The more often you feel flooded by  your partner, the more often you become hyper-vigilant to cues that your partner is about to “blow” again!


4. Body Language

During any of the above, when the heart rate increases to 100 beats per minute, the body goes into a flight or flight response – perceiving the situation as dangerous. You are now in the least intellectually sophisticated condition you can be in.  There is no more talking about the problem.  Your partner is now the Enemy!  All that will happen at this point is to fight (act critical, contemptuous, or defensive) or flee (stonewall.)

The above 4 behaviors are statistically researched to be valid Predictors of Divorce.  The question is what can you do to change these relationship sabotaging bad habits? Check back over the next few posts to discover solutions.

Carol A. Anderson, MS


For more info on Carol’s Singles Programs, visit:


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ABOUT CAROL: Carol has been married for 42 years and has been a successful Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist for 20 years. As a Certified Imago Relationship Therapist & Workshop Presenter, Carol presents workshops for both Singles & Couples! Over the years, she has helped thousands of Singles & Couples FIND, CREATE & KEEP LASTING LOVE and Begin the Journey to the Relationship of their DREAMS! Carol is now transitioning to a Coaching Practice! Why not let Carol help you to create the Relationship of your Dreams as well?


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