Researchers spend a great deal of time evaluating what makes things work – and what doesn’t. When it comes to the dissolution of marriages, psychologists and legal professionals have determined that there are universally common risk factors for divorce.
Knowing what they are, and remaining vigilant when one or more rears its head in your own marriage or domestic partnership can ensure you get the help and support you need before things fall apart.
Are You Experiencing Any of the 9 Most Common Red Flags in Your Marriage?
The following are nine of the most common risk factors for divorce. If you are already past the point of no return, we highly recommend consulting a family law specialist who focuses on mediation, which can save you thousands of dollars and help to create a smoother transition for you and your children.
Extramarital affair (lack of commitment)
By and large, the two most likely reasons for divorce are cheating and/or a lack of commitment by one or the other spouses. These two reasons alone account for roughly 60% to 70% of all divorces.
Your parents got divorced
If you were raised in a household with parents who got divorced, you are more likely to get divorced yourself. And, of course, the same is true for your spouse. Interestingly, it is not necessarily because your parents provided a model of divorce.
Researchers who studied more than 20,000 adults who had been adopted as children found that the child’s likelihood of getting divorced was linked more closely to their biological parent’s models than their adoptive parent’s models. They believe it is due to genetically linked personality traits such as impulsivity and neuroticism (tendencies towards anxiety, self-doubt, depression, and other negative feelings.
Different drinking habits
If you are a big drinker, and your spouse is not, it can cause problems. The University of Buffalo, NY reviewed couples who were not heavy drinkers, couples who were both heavy drinkers, and couples where either the wife or the husband was a heavy drinker. Those with mismatched drinking habits, 45% to 55% got divorced before their ninth anniversary, compared with a 35% divorce rate for couples who had the same drinking habits/patterns.
Getting married too young OR waiting too late
Couples who marry in their late teens and early 20s, as well as those who wait until after age 32, are more likely to get divorced.
You spent $20,000 or more on your wedding
A 2015 study out of Emory University showed a direct correlation between the money spent on a wedding and a couple’s divorce rate. Those who spent $20,000 or more were 3.5 times more likely to get divorced. On the flip-side of the wedding coins, couples who spent $1000 or less are the least likely to end their marriage.
Less income (as well as less education)
We’re going to put these two factors together. Studies consistently show that couples who have at least a four-year degree are more likely to stay married. They also show that the lower the income or the more money problems a couple have, the more likely they are to split up. Since education and income are linked, it makes sense that a lower level of education and a lower income are both risk factors.
You lived together before you were married
This one may seem surprising since you would think the familiarity and comfort level of already living together before marriage would eradicate any of the initial hurdles of moving in after marriage. But, the reality is that studies have consistently found couples who lived together before they were married have higher divorce rates.
We aren’t really sure why this is the case, but researchers suspect it might be that those who were raised without strong religious connections are more likely to live together before tying the knot, and being raised without a religious background is also a risk factor for divorce.
Poor communication is another risk factor for divorce
These two go hand-in-hand. Individuals who do not have the skills to express their feelings verbally, or who are not good communicators are more likely to either argue and cause conflict, or shut-down and not deal with the emotional challenges and issues that arise in a marriage or long-term partnership. So, when communication skills are poor, arguing and conflict escalates, and one or both individuals are more likely to want a divorce.
Keep in mind that combative partnerships are detrimental to everyone involved, including children. Consulting with a divorce mediator can be the best way to work through the issues together and with as little harm done to the children as possible.
Have a child before marriage (or within the first year of marriage)
Couples who got married after they got pregnant or after the birth of their baby, as well as couples who have a baby within the first year of marriage, are more likely to get divorced than those who marry first and wait longer to bring children into the mix.
We’re Here To Help
Are you struggling to keep your marriage together? A pre-divorce consultation with a family lawyer can be a helpful way to evaluate your situation and determine which next steps make the most sense for you. Contact the Law Offices of Gerald A. Falzone to learn more.