15 Subtle Signs Your Marriage Will End In Divorce

Quirky indicators can predict your chances of divorce.

couple looking away from each other Motortion Films / Shutterstock

Sometimes marriages just don't work out like thought it would. The saying "love conquers all" doesn't mean always. You can't always work through things in a marriage and may be at the point where your relationship is too far gone.

It hurts to admit your marriage is a failure, but accepting that your relationship is over is the first step towards finding your happiness as you work your way through the stages of grief you encounter in a divorce.


Here are some sure-fire signs that your marriage will end in divorce:

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

1. If you're a woman who got married before the age of eighteen, your marriage faces a 48 percent likelihood of divorce within ten years.

Age matters. Study after study shows that the younger a married couple is, the riskier the bond is.

The risk drops to 40 percent for women who marry at age eighteen or nineteen. For women who marry at age 20 to 24, the risk drops down to 29 percent, and it drops even further down to 24 percent for women who married at age 25 or older.


2. If you're a woman who wants a child more than your spouse does, your marriage is more than twice as likely to end in divorce as the marriages of couples who agree on how much they do or do not want a child.

"One of the patterns we consistently see is that women tend to be more discontented in relationships than men are," says Stephanie Coontz, Director of Research and Public Education for the Council on Contemporary Families, "and women are the ones who tend to initiate separations and divorces."

3. If you have two sons, you face a 36.9 percent likelihood of divorce; if you have two daughters, the likelihood of divorce rises to 43.1 percent.

The findings made by the Columbia University economist Kristin Mammen echo other studies that link the births of girls with elevated divorce rates.

A bright spot in Mammen's research, however wan, is that after parents divorce, child-support payments show no gender disparity because girls receive no less child support than boys.

4. If you're a man with high basal testosterone, you're 43 percent more likely to get divorced than men with low testosterone levels.

"This is something that evolutionary psychologists and everyday people should take account of," says Coontz.


"Hypermasculinity is neither an evolutionary benefit nor an adaptive trait, especially nowadays, when the best predictor of a successful marriage is not the specialization into two separate roles" — stereotypically male and stereotypically female — "but rather a convergence and a sharing of roles."

5. If your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, you're 22.7 percent more likely to divorce before that child turns eight years old than parents of a child without ADHD.

"ADHD is a very challenging diagnosis," says The Complete Divorce Handbook author Brette Sember. "Raising a child with this disorder is expensive, stressful, and emotionally consuming. It's definitely going to put huge stress on a marriage."

6. If you're currently married but have cohabited with a lover other than your current spouse, you're slightly more than twice as likely to divorce as someone who has never cohabited.

The same study by Ohio State University conducted by sociologists came to this conclusion and they also found that even those who cohabit only with their future spouses "are still 83 percent more likely to experience a marital disruption relative to those that did not cohabit prior to marriage."

Cohabitation statistics are hot buttons, used by some pundits to decry premarital sex and "shacking up."


A widely quoted 2003 study by Western Washington University sociologist Jay Teachman found that women who cohabit with anyone besides their future husbands face a raised divorce risk ranging from 55 to 166 percent, but that those who cohabit only with their future husbands face no elevated risk at all.

7. If you didn't smile for photographs early in life, your marriage is five times more likely to end in divorce than if you smiled intensely in early photographs.

Two tests, the first involving college yearbook photos and the second involving miscellaneous photos taken during participants' youths, yielded this finding.

"People who are optimistic — and that's what smiles tend to show in childhood — find it easier to get along with people," including the people they're married to, asserts Coontz, who is also the author of Marriage: A History. Optimistic types.

Coontz says that people "also find it easier to put up with periods in life that might be difficult." Nonetheless, she warns, "Optimism is certainly not going to protect you from everything, so it's no guarantee."


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8. If your child has died after the twentieth week of pregnancy, during labor, or soon after labor, you're 40 percent more likely to divorce than if you had not lost a child.

Few catastrophes throw relationships into chaos like the death of a child. Distraught parents blame each other, says Susan Pease Gadoua, author of Stronger Day by Day: Reflections for Healing and Rebuilding After Divorce.

When a child dies right before or after being born, "the woman who was carrying the child often gets told that she should have 'taken better care' of the child. What's really happening is that these couples haven't dealt adequately with their grief and they can't form a bond anymore because this huge ball of grief is standing in the way like a barricade."

9. If you're a woman who has recently been diagnosed with cancer or multiple sclerosis, your marriage is six times more likely to end in divorce than if your husband had been diagnosed with those diseases instead.

A study of "partner abandonment" revealed that husbands are six times more likely to leave sick wives than wives are to leave sick husbands.


"Men have a much harder time being caretakers than women do," Sember observes. "Men find it hard to juggle that kind of responsibility, particularly if the wife has always been the one to fill that role." Moreover, "often women are more able to take time off from work to care for an ill spouse than men are."

10. If you're a Caucasian woman and you're separated from your spouse, there's a 98 percent chance that you'll be divorced within six years of that separation; if you're a Hispanic woman, the likelihood is 80 percent; if you're an African-American woman, the likelihood is 72 percent.

This doesn't surprise Coontz.

"Unfortunately, women tend to let their anger and disappointment build up for too long before expressing it. They hint at what's bothering them rather than being direct. By the time they're mad enough to separate, something has died."

This gloomy news about separations, Coontz says, "tells women to be very direct about what they want and need to change, and tells men to listen to them."


11. If you're a dancer or choreographer, you face a 43.05 percent likelihood of divorce, compared with mathematicians, who face a 19.15 percent likelihood, and animal trainers, who face a 22.5 percent likelihood.

Radford University industrial psychologist Michael Aamodt devised a formula for calculating the probabilities of marital success and failure based on the career of one of the spouses.

"The Internet is rife with statements regarding occupations with high divorce and suicide rates," says Aamodt, "but most of these statements are not based on research."

The study also found that massage therapists face a 38.22 percent likelihood of divorce, dentists face a slim 7.75 percent likelihood, and bellhops face a 28.43 percent likelihood.

12. If you're a farmer or rancher, you face only a 7.63 percent likelihood of divorce, joined by other low-risk occupations such as nuclear engineers, who face a 7.29 percent likelihood, and optometrists, who face a mere 4.01 percent likelihood.

The Radford University study calculated divorce probabilities associated with occupations. The absolute safest marriages are those of agricultural engineers who face a minuscule 1.78 percent chance of divorce.


"Though occupational differences in divorce rates can result in some interesting discussions and theories," says Aamodt, "the differences are most likely due to such non-occupational factors as age, race, income, and personality rather than the occupation itself."

13. If either you or your spouse has suffered a brain injury, your marriage faces a 17 percent chance of ending in divorce.

This is encouraging news, considering the high divorce rates associated with illness and other traumatic events.

It's not an eventuality that anyone wants to contemplate, but researchers conclude, "The rate of divorce after brain injury may, in fact, be much lower than divorce rates for the general population."


14. If you're an African-American woman, your first marriage has a 47 percent likelihood of ending in divorce within ten years; for Hispanic women, the likelihood is 34 percent; for Caucasian women, it's 32 percent; for Asian women, it's 20 percent.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services study that produced these findings, one-fifth of first marriages end within five years and one-third end within ten years, across the board.

15. If you're a woman serving actively in the military, your marriage is 250 percent more likely to end in divorce than that of a man serving actively in the military.

A Rand Corporation study found that while 6.6 percent of military women's marriages dissolved, where only 2.6 percent of military men's did.

In every branch of the service and consistently over time, "rates of marital dissolution are substantially higher for women than for men," wrote the study's authors, who speculate that perhaps "the military selects for women whose marriages would be at increased risk regardless of their service."

RELATED: 24 Harmful Myths About Divorce That Will Keep You From Ever Moving On


Anneli Rufus is the author of many books, which have been translated into numerous languages, including Chinese and Latvian. In 2006, she won a Society of Professional Journalists award for criticism, follow her on Twitter.