A few months ago I wrote about research conducted in my lab on predicting the stability (i.e., persistence vs. breakup) of dating relationships. That article received a lot of traffic, but some readers have asked if similar research has been done on predicting whether a marriage will continue or not. Fortunately, researchers have tackled this question as well. Here are five factors that predict staying married versus getting divorced:1
1. Positive and negative behaviors: Husbands and wives who exhibit more positive behaviors (e.g., giving compliments, helping each other), and fewer negative behaviors (e.g., name calling, criticizing), towards each other are more likely to stay together. It’s pretty straightforward: be nice to each other, people.
2. Attitude similarity: To put a spin on the common adage, “birds of a feather flock stay together.” Couples that hold similar values, likes and dislikes, and beliefs are more likely to stay married to one another.
3. Marital and sexual satisfaction: Husbands and wives who are generally happy with their relationships and happy in bed tend to stay together.
5. Neuroticism: Marriages in which the husband or the wife is high in neuroticism (i.e., increased worrying and emotional instability) are more likely to end in divorce.
1Karney, B. R., & Bradbury, T. N. (1995). The longitudinal course of marital quality and stability: A review of theory, methods, and research. Psychological Bulletin, 118, 3-34.
Dr. Benjamin Le - Science of Relationships articles | Website/CV
Dr. Le's research focuses on commitment, including the factors associated with commitment and its role in promoting maintenance. He has published on the topics of breakup, geographic separation, infidelity, social networks, cognition, and need fulfillment and emotions in relationships.