13 Scientifically-Backed Factors That Can Predict A Bad Marriage

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13 Scientifically-Backed Factors That Can Predict A Bad Marriage

Everyone knows that one couple: the couple that everyone secretly wishes would just break up, but somehow seem to always magically decide that they need to have a wedding to fix everything. It’s a cliche that plays out in just about every single social circle out there, and the reason it’s such a common trope is because of the way people are.

Think about it. When people walk down the aisle, they don’t do it thinking that they will have a failed marriage. Everyone likes to believe that their marriage will make it, even if it isn’t always realistic. Sometimes, people defy the odds and prove people wrong. Other times, their marriage is dead on arrival.


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Having done a lot of research on marriage and weddings, there are a lot of scientifically-backed red flags that can predict a bad marriage before the wedding ceremony is even over. If you want marriage advice, you've come to the right place, because here are some of the most damning risk factors you can have.

1. One (or both) parties in the marriage makes a living as a model, a personal trainer, or a dancer.

These professions may be glamorous, but they sure aren’t good for your marriage statistics. Statistics show that these professions are the ones that are most likely to end in divorce, with the most common reason behind it being infidelity. 

2. The bride had serious pre-wedding jitters.

Believe it or not, a groom having cold feet doesn’t necessarily bode badly for a marrying couple. However, the couple should be seriously concerned if the bride has serious misgivings before the wedding. The Journal of American Psychology pointed out that bridal pre-wedding jitters more than doubles the risk of divorce a couple will face. 

3. There was seriously contempt-filled behavior happening before the marriage.

The Gottman Institute is known for being able to predict divorce (or abusive marriages) with a 90 percent accuracy rate. John Gottman, who is the head of the institute, claimed that contempt is the number one predictor of a bad marriage, not to mention divorce. Sadly, once contempt takes root in a relationship, it’s usually no longer salvageable.

4. You got married as a teenager, or you got married after 32.

Though there are always outliers, studies show that the best marriage chances happen between 20 and 32 years of age. If you marry too young, you tend to outgrow your partner. Being too old also doesn’t bode well; a new study revealed that every year you wait to marry after 32 boosts your chances of divorce by 5 percent. 

5. The groom doesn’t work full-time or is a stay-at-home dad.

The concept of a stay-at-home husband may be very progressive, but it’s clear that something isn’t too healthy about it for many men. Studies show that men who work less than their wives are more likely to face divorce. Whether this is due to resentment about uneven workloads or because they feel emasculated remains to be seen.

6. Actually, if the wife outearns her spouse, the divorce risk more than doubles.

A Swiss study showed that female breadwinners have more than double the chance of getting divorces when compared to ladies who stay at home. 


RELATED: 10 Shocking Reasons Divorce Is SO Common These Days


7. You or your partner didn’t graduate high school.

It seems like staying in school really does pay off, even when it comes to your romance. Studies have found that more than half of all high school dropouts will have marriages that end in divorce, compared to only 30 percent of college grads. It’s believed that the lower standard of living they have may contribute to their marital stress.

8. Wedding planning turned into a disaster.

A lot of wedding planners swear by this rule, and it’s one that makes tons of sense. Couples that tend to bicker, argue, and straight up fight over wedding plans are couples that often have deeper underlying issues that impede their ability to be happy together.

9. One or both of the partners are deeply pessimistic.

It seems like a sunny outlook might be more important to your marriage than you think. A bad attitude towards life can make marriages turn sour, fast. How big a difference it makes can shock you. One study even linked boys who didn’t smile in school photos experience a 500 percent increase in the chance of divorce later on!

10. Only one of you smokes.

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Believe it or not, studies showed that couples that had one smoker rather than two smokers had a higher chance of divorce. Couples that didn’t smoke at all had the lowest divorce rates of all. Many believe that the reason why this is such a strong warning sign of a bad marriage is because it signals major lifestyle differences.

11. More than 20 percent of your wedding guests refused to attend.

Several studies have found a direct correlation between bad marriages and low wedding attendance. Your risk of having an unhappy marriage that ends in divorce climbs significantly if a large chunk of your wedding guests refuse to attend your wedding. Considering that many people drop out of weddings they don’t agree with, this makes a lot of sense.

12. Debt is a major issue for you or your partner.

Finances matter, big time. Around a third of all divorces are due to financial issues, and Lord only knows how many arguments are because of money-related problems later on. Multiple studies have shown that couples that have high levels of debt and low wages are more likely to divorce. They are also far less likely to report satisfaction with their marriages.

13. Your man has a high level of testosterone.

Oh, this just isn’t fair, is it? High testosterone in men is typically seen as attractive to women, but that comes with a serious caveat. It's linked to higher divorce rates and infidelity. 


RELATED: 16 Subtle Warning Signs Of Divorce Even The Smartest People Miss


Ossiana Tepfenhart is a Jack-of-all-trades writer based out of Red Bank, New Jersey. When she's not writing, she's drinking red wine and chilling with some cool cats. You can follow her @bluntandwitty on Twitter.