These Habits Will Increase Your Chances of Divorce
And you thought cheating caused a lot of strife...
While the divorce rate in America has been declining since the 1980s, between 42 and 45 percent of all marriages in modern-day America end in divorce. And while most of us are aware of the blatant habits—like cheating—that give you a one-way ticket to Splitsville, the truth is that much of the behavior that leads to divorce is much more subtle. In fact, you may not even realize what you’re doing is a problem for your relationship. So read on for the biggest, most surprising habits that will increase your chances of divorce. And for more great advice on how to avoid getting served divorce papers, check out the 50 Best Marriage Tips of All Time.
Not Listening to Her Concerns
“Many women go radio silent after years of attempts to improve the relationship. If she no longer is talking about it, and a specific solution has not been implemented, she may be planning her exit,” couples consultant and coach Lesli Doares told Best Life. “Many men are blindsided by their wives asking for a divorce because everything is just fine for him. Women instigate about 80 percent of divorces—many after years of feeling unheard or having their concerns minimized.”
So, don’t assume everything is fine just because it’s been a while since you’ve had an argument. A well-timed comment like, “Hey, is everything okay with you? Am I being the best spouse I can be?,” can go a long way.
Trying to Change Them
“Trying to get your partner to change who they are or how they do things is controlling,” Doares said. “You try to eliminate your anxiety or discomfort by trying to get your partner to behave the way you think they should. However, most people don’t like to be controlled. In fact, what you will create is push back and hostility.” At the end of the day, you have to love people for who they are, not for who they are not.
“It’s not that your partner will never change. It’s that you cannot change your partner,” Karl Pillemer, a Cornell University gerontologist who has studied the long-term success of relationships, told Best Life. “People who finally accept their mate for who and what they are, rather than seeing them as a do-it-yourself project, find the experience liberating—and are much more likely to have happy and satisfying relationships for decades.”
Not Getting Enough Space
Everyone knows that if you don’t spend quality time with your spouse, you’re in danger of growing apart. But when I interviewed 10 real people on what they did to turn their marriage around, many of them also said that it was also crucial to have your own space—both literally and figuratively. Michael, 42, said he and his wife of 12 years enjoy doing things together “when our interests overlap, but give one another the space to do it alone. So we’re growing while together, but not feeling ‘stuck’ together.” And Megan said she thought she was going to “end up on 60 Minutes at some point for suffocating [her husband] in his sleep” due to his snoring until they got a second bedroom.
“One sign that your relationship is in danger of heading towards divorce is if there is consistent contempt and criticism towards each other. Both are very damaging to the individual and the relationships,” therapist Irene Schreiner told Best Life. “Research has shown that these two behaviors if not stopped can predict divorce.” As important as it is to express your concerns, it’s also really important to pick your battles so your spouse doesn’t constantly feel like a kid being picked on in the playground. Sometimes, arguing over socks left on the floor just isn’t worth it.
Not Saying “Thank You”
When you’ve been married for a while, it’s easy to start taking the things that your spouse does for you on a daily basis for granted. But a 2017 University of Georgia study found that the greatest predictor of marital bliss was gratitude. A little bit goes a long way.
Forgetting that Your Partners As Well As Parents
It’s natural that, once you have kids, your roles as parents become more important than your spousal relationship. But, according to the therapist and best-selling self-help author Tina B. Tessina, your romantic relationship is “the foundation your family is built on. Don’t get so into your role as parents that you forget to be partners.” Take a page from Barack Obama‘s book and schedule a regular date night, regardless of how busy you both are.
Getting Into a Rut
When you and your partner first got married, you probably surprised one another on occasion with flowers, gifts, concert tickets, or even vacations, but all of that tends to fall by the wayside when you’ve been together for a while. That’s unfortunate, because a University of Michigan study of 123 couples in their seventh and ninth years of marriage found that something as simple as boredom can cause couples to lose interest in their marriages. Don’t forget to be a little spontaneous every once in a while!
Not Splitting Up the Chores
Not Being Truly Committed
A UCLA study of 172 married couples over the course of 11 years found that the ones who remained married were the ones that realized that being “committed” meant “‘I’m committed to doing what it takes to make this relationship work” as opposed to “I like this relationship and I’m committed to it.”
“It’s easy to be committed to your relationship when it’s going well,” Thomas Bradbury, the co-director of the Relationship Institute and lead author of the study, said. “As a relationship changes, however, shouldn’t you say at some point something like, ‘I’m committed to this relationship, but it’s not going very well—I need to have some resolve, make some sacrifices and take the steps I need to take to keep this relationship moving forward.’ ”
Sweating the Small Stuff
“I almost rethought the whole marriage thing when the husband used a fork and knife on nachos on our first anniversary,” one Twitter user wrote. Look, we all have our pet peeves, but we also all have our quirks. And while there are certain red flags—like how someone treats their family—that you should take seriously, there are also a lot of little things that you should feel free to ignore.
Technology has made it easier than ever to meet someone, but one can argue that it’s also made it harder to stay together. One study found that “phubbing”—the act of ignoring someone while flipping through your phone—can have disastrous effects on your relationship. Hitting up an ex on Facebook or flirting with someone cute on Instagram may seem harmless, but some experts say this kind of “micro-cheating” erodes trust and can often lead to actual infidelity. And another study found that the rise of couples streaming Netflix on separate devices at night is killing our sex lives. It should be no surprise, then, that lawyers claim “Facebook” was cited as the cause for divorce in one out of every five petitions in Britain.
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