The Top 5 Predictors of Divorce

There are a number of divorce predictors that identify an increased risk for divorce.

The latest one, conducted by Harvard University researchers, have now discovered a link between divorce and employment.

Divorce Predictors: Unemployment

According to a study published in the American Sociological Review, with data sourced from 6,300 married couples interviewed between 1968 and 2013, couples faced a 32% higher divorce risk when the husband was unemployed versus marriages where the husband had a full-time job and was contributing to the family’s finances. The researchers found that couples who married before 1975 experienced more marital issues related to housework and wives not doing enough, but for couples who got married after 1975, there was more tension when the husband was unemployed. Why is this important? Before 1975, less women were working full-time – which meant husbands expected their wives to play a bigger part in household chores. But since more women were joining the workforce around 1975, things shifted. While women weren’t expected to take care of the household chores as much as they once were, men were still expected to be a main source of income.

divorce predictors, divorce“I could speculate that losing a job might bring with it depression or some other kinds of mental health issues, ” Alexandra Killewald, the study’s author and a professor of sociology at Harvard, said on the Today show. This might explain why some marriages don’t survive this impact.

What does this mean for stay-at-home-dads? There wasn’t enough data to accurately say, but Killewald suggests that this sort of circumstance is usually pre-planned and therefore exempt from the same consequences.

Another study has analysed risk of divorce in relation to age, ethnicity and employment status.

Divorce Predictors: Low Level of Education

The more educated people are, the less likely they are to divorce. The twist is that the genders switch somewhere in the middle. At 60 years old, people with high-school level education, more men (25%) than women (22%) are divorced or remarried. At bachelor education level, we see a reversal—20% of females are divorced or remarried, vs. 17% of men. At advanced levels of education the numbers jump to 19% for females and drop to 13% for males.

As to how employment status affects marriage, the numbers are also surprising. Being unemployed does make people more likely to divorce, but overall the graphs are shaped the same, ramping up after the thirties and leveling off again by the seventies. The surprise is, again, between genders. Employed women over 60 are more likely to be divorced than employed men, perhaps due to their financial independence.

Divorce Predictors: By Country

According to data collected by the United Nations, Ireland legalised divorce in 2000 and the divorce rate has remained stable. Yet in Spain, which legalised divorce in 1990, the divorce rate has more than doubled.

If you are living in Russia, the bad news is that you have the highest risk of divorce in the world, with 4.5 divorces per 1000 of the population. The lowest divorce rate belongs to Guatemala, at just 0.3 divorces per 1000. Australia currently sits about 2.2 per 1000 and New Zealand at 1.9 per 1000. The United States sits at around 2.3 per 1000.

Divorce Predictors: By Profession

divorce predictors, divorceThese professions were identified by Michael Aamodt and Shawn McCoy as having an elevated divorce rate, based on US Census data.

One disclaimer before diving into the data: the study identified people who were currently divorced, not those who were previously divorced — thus it may understate the numbers.

Some surprising results are:

Nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides have a 28.95% divorce rate.

Massage therapists have a 38.22% divorce rate

Dancers & choreographers have a 43.05% divorce rate

If you want to know which professions had low divorce rates:

Optometrists have a 4.01% divorce rate

Podiatrists have a 6.81% divorce rate

Divorce Predictors: Contempt

Dr. John Gottman, Ph.D, author of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, is one of the world’s foremost marriage therapists. He’s spent four decades studying couples at The Gottman Institute in order to determine what really causes a rift between two people-and how to fix it. Here’s where it gets interesting: After all that research, Dr. Gottman noticed a clear pattern among couples that didn’t stay together, identifying what he says is the #1 predictor of divorce.

It’s contempt.

Gottman Institute expert Mike McNulty, PhD, LCSW, breaks down what every couple needs to know, including why contempt is so detrimental to a relationship, how to spot it (in both your partner and yourself) and-perhaps most importantly-how to stop it.

It’s normal to feel annoyed at your partner or to disagree on things, but when you allow yourself to reach a level of contempt or disgust for him or her, that’s when McNulty says it becomes unhealthy. Every couple fights, and every couple has issues: “All relationships involve ongoing, perpetual problems that will resurface,” says McNulty.

divorce predictors, divorceBut it’s how you handle them – either with kindness or contempt – that can make or break you as a couple. “Partners who do not handle discussions of these problems well are at the most risk of divorce,” he says.

Some of the most common signs of contempt are rolling your eyes or raising your top lip in a sneering expression. McNulty says, “It’s an overall attitude of disgust at one’s partner and/or a sense of superiority.”

Another warning sign is passive-aggressive communication. In The Angry Smile: The Psychology of Passive Aggressive Behavior in Families, Schools, and Workplaces, passive aggression is defined as a deliberate and masked way of expressing covert feelings of anger. Things passive-aggressive people say include:

“Fine. Whatever.” Sulking and withdrawing from arguments are primary strategies to express anger indirectly and to shut down direct, emotionally honest communication.

“I was only joking.”  Sarcasm is a common tool to express hostility aloud, but in socially acceptable, indirect ways.

“Why are you getting so upset?” Maintaining calm and feigning shock when others, worn down by his or her indirect hostility, blow up in anger is common, as is taking pleasure out of setting others up to lose their cool and then questioning their “overreactions.”

Ultimately, McNulty reminds us to be kind as often as we can.  When it’s time to voice your feelings, remember to “complain gently without blaming the other person,” says McNulty. Talk about your feelings, and how you feel, versus blaming or criticizing their actions. “These shifts in behavior are fairly simple but really do make a difference,” McNulty says.

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