On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Divorce on Friday, March 1, 2013.

Predicting who gets divorce is tough. It’s been said that John Gottman can listen to a couple for 5 minutes and determine with 91% accuracy whether they’ll divorce.

Gottman has researched marriage for over 40 years, and couples that attend his workshops have half the relapse rate that standard therapy provides. I just ordered his book: The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.

At the core of Gottman’s research are “The Four Horsemen”, the four indicators a divorce is on its way:

1. Criticism – Complaints are fine. Criticism though, attacks the person, not their behavior. (Husband didn’t take out the garbage because he’s a bad person, not because he forgot.)

2. Contempt – “…name-calling, eye-rolling, sneering, mockery, and hostile humor. In whatever form contempt – the worst of the four horsemen – conveys disgust. How can you resolve a problem when your partner thinks you’re disgusted with him.

3. Defensiveness – Defensiveness is really a way of blaming your partner. and automatically escalates the conflict: ‘The problem isn’t with me, it’s with you.’

4. Stonewalling – Tuning out doesn’t just remove the person from the conflict, it removes them emotionally from the relationship.

Interestingly, Gottman claims most arguments in a marriage cannot be resolved. Couples can spend years trying to change each other’s mind, but it can’t be done. Instead of arguing, he suggests accepting each another as-is:

Psychologist Dan Wile said it best in his book After the Honeymoon: “When choosing a long-term partner . . . you will inevitably be choosing a particular set of unsolvable problems that you’ll be grappling with for the next ten, twenty or fifty years.

The book also has few interesting statistics:

  • “…an unhappy marriage can increase your chances of getting sick by roughly 35% and even shorten your life by an average of 4 years.”
  • “96% of the time you can predict the outcome of a conversation based on the first three minutes of the fifteen minute interaction…”
  • “I’ve found 94 percent of the time that couples who put a positive spin on their marriage’s history are likely to have a happy future as well. When happy memories are distorted, it’s a sign that the marriage needs help.”

His book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work is available at Amazon (No, I don’t get a cut).

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