The Mating Grounds

Avoiding Divorce: Key Predictors and How to Stay Together

Marriage can be a beautiful and fulfilling experience, but unfortunately not all marriages last forever. Divorce can be a painful and difficult process that can leave both partners feeling lost, hurt, and alone.

However, there are certain behaviors and attitudes that can be warning signs for the health of a marriage. Here, we’ll explore some key predictors of divorce and what you can do to avoid them.

Key Predictors of Divorce:

John Gottman, a renowned relationship expert, has identified four key predictors of divorce that he calls the “Four Horsemen.” These behaviors are criticism, contempt, stonewalling, and defensiveness. Let’s take a closer look at each one.


Criticism is different from complaining because it focuses on a person’s character or personality instead of a specific behavior. Examples of criticism include “You’re so lazy” instead of “Please clean up the dishes,” or “You always forget important dates” instead of “I feel hurt when you forget our anniversary.” Criticism can be a warning sign because it puts the other person on the defensive and can make them feel like they can do nothing right.

Over time, this can cause resentment and a breakdown in communication. Contempt:

Contempt is the feeling that someone or something is beneath consideration, worthless, or deserving of scorn.

In a marriage, contempt can manifest as eye-rolling, sarcasm, insults, or mocking. Contempt is toxic to a relationship because it implies a lack of respect for the other person.

When contempt becomes a pattern in a marriage, it can erode intimacy and create emotional distance. Stonewalling:

Stonewalling is the act of emotionally withdrawing from a conversation or interaction.

It can happen when one person feels overwhelmed, flooded, or unable to process their emotions. Stonewalling can be a predictor of divorce because it often makes the other person feel unheard or devalued.

When left unchecked, stonewalling can lead to a lack of emotional engagement and a feeling of being shut out from the other person’s life. Defensiveness:

Defensiveness is the act of blaming or making excuses instead of taking responsibility for one’s actions.

Defensiveness can be a warning sign for a failing relationship because it can make it difficult for the other person to express their feelings or needs. When one person is always on the defensive, it can lead to a lack of trust and emotional distance.

Avoiding Predictors of Divorce:

The good news is that there are steps you can take to avoid the predictors of divorce. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

The Importance of Awareness:

The first step in avoiding the predictors of divorce is to become aware of them.

Knowing the warning signs can help you recognize when things are going off course and take action to correct them. Take the time to learn about the “Four Horsemen” and what they look like in your own relationship.

Talk openly with your partner about these warning signs and how you can work together to avoid them. Addressing Issues for a Better Marriage:

When you notice the warning signs of divorce, it’s important to take action.

Addressing issues in your marriage can be difficult, but it’s worth the effort. Seek out a couples therapist, attend a marriage enrichment program, or read self-help books together.

These resources can provide you with new skills and tools to improve your communication, deepen intimacy, and build a stronger relationship. The Significance of Criticism:

Criticism can be a hard habit to break, but it’s essential if you want to avoid the predictors of divorce.

Instead of focusing on your partner’s flaws or character, try to frame your concerns in a more positive way. Use “I” statements to express your feelings and needs.

For example, instead of saying “You never listen to me,” say “I feel unheard when you interrupt me.”

Avoiding Contempt:

Contempt can be a tricky behavior to tackle because it often arises from deeper issues in the relationship. If you notice contempt creeping into your interactions, try to dig deeper to understand what’s really going on.

Is there a lack of respect or trust? Are there unresolved conflicts?

Seek out the help of a therapist or mediator to work through these issues together. Overcoming Stonewalling:

If stonewalling has become a pattern in your relationship, it’s important to take action to break the cycle.

One way to do this is to take a break when you feel overwhelmed or flooded. Let your partner know that you need some time to cool down and then come back to the conversation when you’re both feeling more calm and centered.

Practice active listening and validation to help your partner feel heard and valued. Accepting Responsibility for Defensiveness:

Defensiveness can be a tough behavior to own up to, but it’s essential for a healthy and fulfilling marriage.

When you feel yourself becoming defensive, take a moment to pause and reflect on what’s really going on. Are you feeling attacked or criticized?

Are you avoiding taking responsibility for your actions? Acknowledge these feelings and take steps to address them.

Practice active listening and problem-solving to build trust and intimacy. Conclusion:

Marriage can be challenging, but with awareness, effort, and a willingness to address issues when they arise, it can also be incredibly rewarding.

By taking steps to avoid the predictors of divorce, you can build a stronger, more intimate, and lasting relationship. Remember, no relationship is perfect, but with time, patience, and support, you can create a fulfilling and meaningful life together.

Navigating the possibility of divorce can be a challenging and emotional process. When faced with marital problems, couples often ask themselves whether they should try to work through their issues or end the marriage altogether.

Deciding whether to seek a divorce is a personal decision that requires thoughtful consideration. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you navigate the possibility of divorce.

Importance of Deciding When to End a Marriage:

Making the decision to end a marriage is a significant one that should not be taken lightly. It’s important to take the time to reflect on your feelings and assess the situation objectively.

Ask yourself whether your problems are fixable or whether it’s time to move on. Consider the impact of ending your marriage on yourself, your partner, and your family.

Seek the help of friends, family, or a therapist to gain perspective and support. The Role of Marriage Counseling:

Marriage counseling can play a crucial role in helping couples work through problems and improve their relationship.

A marriage therapist can help you and your partner develop problem-solving skills, communicate more effectively, and build stronger emotional connections. Marriage counseling is not just for couples who are on the brink of divorce; it can be a valuable tool for any couple who wants to improve their relationship.

Navigating Divorce with the Help of a Therapist:

If you do decide to seek a divorce, a therapist can provide support and guidance as you navigate the transition. A divorce therapist can help you and your partner work through your emotions, deal with conflict, and communicate your needs effectively.

A therapist can also help you develop coping skills to manage the stress and anxiety that often come with divorce. Additionally, a therapist can provide guidance on how to co-parent your children, navigate the legal system, and adjust to life after divorce.

Divorce can be a difficult and emotional process, but with the right support, it’s possible to navigate the transition successfully. Here are a few tips for seeking help during your divorce:

– Find a therapist who specializes in divorce counseling.

Therapists who have expertise in divorce can provide you with the tools and support you need to navigate the legal and emotional aspects of divorce. – Remember to take care of yourself.

Divorce can be emotionally draining, so it’s important to prioritize self-care. Engage in activities that bring you joy, get plenty of rest, and eat well.

Seek the support of friends or family members who can offer a listening ear and a shoulder to lean on. – Know that it’s okay to ask for help.

Divorce can feel overwhelming, but it’s important to remember that you don’t have to go through it alone. Seek help from a therapist, support group, or other professional to help you navigate the process.


Seeking help during marital problems or divorce can be a valuable tool in managing difficult emotions, improving communication, and building stronger relationships. Whether you choose to work through your problems with the help of a marriage therapist or seek guidance during a divorce, remember that help is available.

Rest assured that by being proactive in seeking counsel, you are taking the first step towards creating a happier and healthier future. In conclusion, navigating a marriage or a divorce can be a challenging and emotional process, but seeking help can provide valuable tools for managing difficult emotions, improving communication, and building stronger relationships.

Identifying the predictors of divorce and taking steps to address them, seeking counseling for relationship improvement or divorce counseling, and prioritizing self-care are all important in the pursuit of a happier and healthier future. Whether you are seeking guidance during marital problems, divorce, or simply want to build a stronger relationship, remember that help is available.

Take the first step towards a happier future by seeking support and guidance.

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