American psychologist, John Gottman completed a series of studies to determine how science could be used to predict whether a marriage or relationship was on the verge of breakup. He recruited newlyweds to his laboratory and instructed them not to speak to each other for eight hours. After the eight hours, Gottman recorded conversations with the couples about their marriage. These conversations were then analysed to pick up on emotions and behaviours.
Several years later, the couples were contacted to find out whether they remained married, or had divorced. The patterns from the initial conversation where then analysed further to pick up the cues that would be a warning sign for the divorce and here they are:
Warning Sign 1: Criticism
The research found that if one person regularly found fault in their partner, it was key sign they were on the way to breaking up.
Warning Sign 2: Contempt
Being disrespectful, mocking your partner or using dark sarcastic humour is the number one predictor of divorce.
Warning Sign 3: Defensiveness
Defensiveness is also a self-protection technique that humans use when they’re being criticised, but the problem is that being defensive is really just a way of blaming your partner.
Warning Sign 4: Stone Walling
Stone walling is when you withdraw and shutdown from a conversation, often because you’re too emotionally overwhelmed. When you’re stone walling, you’re completely unresponsive and unable to address the problem.
Main image from Universal Pictures.