Episode 10: 9 Predictors of Divorce

Welcome to Episode 10 of F*ck Like a Woman. Today we’re talking about the 9 predictors of divorce. “By using these 9 predictors, researchers could tell with 85% accuracy in the first few minutes if a couple was going to make it or not.”


I’m here with my husband, Aaron, and we’re going to be discussing the 9 predictors of divorce. The interesting part about this discussion is that it’s scientifically based with 20 years of couples research to back it up.

Thanks to author and couples therapist John Gottman, who is one of the most renowned researchers on couples relationships, we now know many fascinating insights into the perplexing world of relationship longevity and happiness. He studies real interactions between couples across all racial groups, income levels, social classes, and sexual orientations. Documented in his book, The Science of Trust, Gottman explains his theory about couples known as the ‘‘Sound Relationship House”, which he developed from 20 years of couples research.

The reason I wanted Aaron and I to discuss this topic is that we have been both the unhappy couple and now we are the happy couple. We spent about 8 years being that miserable couple.

Before we get into the 9 indicators of divorce, let’s talk briefly about what Gottman’s research has found.

  • All unhappy families are the same in their miseries, but all happy families are different. What this means is there is more rigidity in distressed families than in happy families. In happiness there is the possibility for much greater diversity and randomness. It turns out that all unhappy couples have the same general dysfunctions.
  • The research evidence does indeed suggest that all relationships, happy or unhappy, seem to have to deal with the same “tasks” of being in a lasting relationship, and that these tasks change with life-span development. For example, it is well known that the severity of problems across happy and unhappy couples is the same, and people in all kinds of relationships argue about essentially the same stuff. Even predictors of divorce occur in relationships that are stable and happy; except for contempt, they just occur less often. So there really may be a set of “tasks” or milestones that all relationships have to deal with, particularly in their early stages. As we will see, most of these issues have to do with establishing trust.
  • The therapy Gottman uses with his couples focuses heavily on repair. Every couple, in their daily life together, messes up communication, and every relationship has a potential “dark side.” It is a misconception that communication ought to be the norm in relationships. What may matter most is the ability of couples to repair things when they go wrong.

Let’s get deeper into Gottman’s research, and talk about the 9 Predictors of Divorce (or perpetual misery), these are signs of dysfunction in a relationship.

  1. More negativity than positivity.
  2. Escalation of negative dialogue.
  3. Turning away.
  4. Turning against: Irritability, emotional disengagement, and withdrawal.
  5. Failure of repair attempts.
  6. Negative sentiment override.
  7. Maintaining vigilance and physiological arousal.
  8. Chronic diffuse physiological arousal.
  9. The failure of men to accept influence from their women.


That wraps up our show for today everyone. Next time, I interview an online dating connoisseur, who recounts some fascinating insights about how dating apps have revolutionized sexual fantasies – one fantasy in particular, younger men and older women. It’s going to be good.


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