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.
More negativity than positivity.
Escalation of negative dialogue.
Turning against: Irritability, emotional disengagement, and withdrawal.
Failure of repair attempts.
Negative sentiment override.
Maintaining vigilance and physiological arousal.
Chronic diffuse physiological arousal.
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.
“How long can you be with someone and still want them?” That was the question racing around Annette’s head as she looked at her husband, Mark, of twenty years, the father of her two children. They had gotten married shortly after turning 20 and had grown up together as high school sweethearts.
Both their sons had headed off to college in the last couple of years, and at first, Annette had been certain it would be a chance for the two of them to give themselves over to some of the passion that she knew they had been stemming since the boys had come along. She was hoping they would fall back into bed, back in love, like it was nothing.
Inside, Annette didn’t feel like she was about to turn 40. She had kept herself fit and lively while the boys were growing up, but she wondered if her husband felt the same way. But the raw passion they’d shared in their twenties wasn’t as forthcoming now that they’d lived through so many life stages together, and now they started to feel the emptiness in their house encroaching upon them. The necessities of being a wife and mother had kept Annette from feeling as though she had much to offer sexually.
She found herself looking at her husband anew, wondering who was this man with whom she’d shared the better part of her life with, but at the same time, had grown to be an emotional stranger, withholding parts of himself that she knew had to still be inside him – parts that longed to experience passion and adventure with their newfound freedom.
Annette noticed the peppered grey hairs sprinked throughout his hair, and for the first time, she realized just how sexy it was. The crease of his smile as he asked how her day was – it was familiar yet charming, a sign of a man with years of experience under his belt.
With so much loneliness and uncertainty about this new chapter, Annette decided to seek comfort in her best friend, Elena. Elena was the kind of friend who always walked the line. And truthfully, Annette had wished for years that she had the kind of raw courage that Elena made look so easy. When Annette told her how much her sex life with Mark had deteriorated over the last 5 years, Elena grinned at her as though she’d been waiting for this opening for as long as she could remember.
“Here,” Elena pushed a discreet card with a phone number on it across the table towards Annette. “This’ll help, trust me.”
Annette sat puzzled, “What is it? Couples counselling?”
“Sort of, we had a similar problem, Mac and I, and this…this was the best way we found to address it.”
She shrugged, took the card, and stuck it in her purse, but on her way home, she figured out what the number was for. A swingers club. And suddenly she got a flutter in her stomach.
When Annette got home, she confided in Mark about how badly she wanted to break the routine and she didn’t know what they could do to make it better…except for one recommendation she found through a friend. She pulled out the card and handed it to Mark.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” he said. “No way we can do something like that.” Annette was a little discouraged watching him vehemently shaking his head.
And truthfully, at first, part of her agreed with him, but as weeks passed on and their sex life failed to improve, she knew that desperate measures had to be taken to keep what remained of their sex life alive. Mark took some convincing, but eventually he came around.
“Just once, just to see.”
“Just once,” she agreed, and she felt a flutter of excitement as she realized what they were agreeing to.
After figuring out what exactly to wear to a swinger’s club, they nervously headed out together, holding each other’s hands tightly as they got out of the car. Annette was anxious, more anxious than she thought she’d be. She hesitated for a moment outside the door, but Mark pushed it open and strode inside, clearly wanting to get this over with. But when he saw what was waiting for him on the other side, he changed his tune.
“Wow”, she thought as she followed him in. Everywhere they looked, there were people spread out on couches, grinding on each other without a drop of shame. She saw couples making out and fooling around, and a stairway that led up to another floor. Annette watched one couple as they flashed flirty eyes at each other and headed up stairs.
Annette felt drawn to them for reasons she couldn’t put into words, and decided to follow them. She was surprised that Mark seemed happy to go along. Like Annette, he was busy trying to take it all in, take in the sheer weight of the sexy vibes in this place and how much they both wanted to be a part of it.
They followed the couple upstairs and down a hallway, and found them already locked in an intense embrace on a large bed in the center of one of the private rooms. Annette’s eyes widened, and she went to back away – but before she could, the woman spotted her and reached her hand out inviting her to come join them.
The woman glanced between Mark and Annette playfully. And Annette didn’t need telling twice.
What followed was perhaps the most exciting thing Annette and Mark had ever done together. They started slow at first, Annette kissing and touching the other woman while the men watched, but she was soon drawn to the man; she was nervous at the thought of letting him put his hands on her, but Mark gave her a look reassuring her it was okay – that tonight was about adventure and pleasure. Before long, Mark was sitting back and watching as his wife was pleasured by this new couple, both of them using mouths, hands and tongues to stimulate her in any way they could. And seeing her like that, being devoured so sensually by this couple, sparked something in him.
Soon the woman turned toward Mark, and began to undress him as the other man mounted Annette on the bed. Mark couldn’t take his eyes off his wife, how wanted she was, how hot she looked as another man began to fuck her. The woman dipped her head down to take his straining erection into her mouth and began to blow him, her mouth fresh and new on his cock.
Annette glanced over at Mark, and felt a matching swell of lust for this man who she thought she had seen in nearly every light, but the jealousy at watching another woman suck his cock was enough to spark something that had been missing for a long time between them.
Eventually, the strain in his dick was too much for him to take, and he pulled the woman from his cock and lay her down on the bed, spread her legs open, and ate her pussy. She handed him a condom, wanting him to fuck her. He sheathed himself and looked over at his wife, lost in a powerful rush of ecstasy at watching his wife riding this other man. And as Mark began to slide his way inside her for the first time, he reached out to his wife, and curled his finger around hers, letting her know without words, that no matter what happened tonight, it was her he wanted. It was her he wanted now and forever. Annette squeezed his hand, silently replying that after all this time, she knew beyond all certainly that she wanted him, too.
That’s it for today everyone. Stay tuned for an upcoming episode, where we’ll be talking about the 9 predictors of divorce that allow researchers to tell within a few minutes if a couple is going to make it long-term or not. See you next time!