Psychologists Warn Of The 2 Major Signs A Marriage Is Headed For Divorce

Don't ignore them, for the sake of your relationship.

distant couple sitting next to each other fizkes / Shutterstock

Marriage is tough, so it's hard to really evaluate whether or not your relationship could be heading toward divorce.

In the beginning, you might find yourself freaking out after every disagreement or argument, with the false 50% divorce statistic lingering at the back of your mind. However, one psychologist was hoping to find out if there were any common patterns that may serve as red flags for married couples to watch out for.


In 2015, psychologist John Gottman, founder of the Gottman Institute, revealed his findings in an interview. He found that there are actually two major signs that indicate a marriage could be heading for divorce. He also assured married couples that they shouldn't be too worried unless they're both of those things.

But how do you know whether you're just freaking out over nothing or if you're truly in trouble?

Here are 2 major signs a marriage is heading for divorce

1. Getting stuck in a cycle of negativity

"Early divorce is predicted by partners who get stuck in a negative cycle and aren't able to repair the relationship," explains Gottman. He touched on how it's easy to get into this state of mind, but incredibly difficult to pull yourself out of.




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"For these couples, entering negativity is like stepping into a quicksand bog. It's easy to enter but hard to exit. You see that their repair processes — [the techniques they use to makeup after a conflict] — are failing," he adds.

"That’s what leads to early divorce: this negativity becomes all-encompassing. They check in but they don't check out. It's like the roach hotel model. There's a rapid deterioration of intimacy and friendship where they become one another's adversary instead of one another's friends," Gottman went on to say.


Once you start associating your spouse with more negative feelings than positive ones, that's when you should start to worry. Because you should always have a positive thought associated with your spouse, even if you're in the middle of a disagreement.

Your spouse should be your partner, lover, and friend. And negativity could irreversibly break those bonds.

Gottman says that a marriage with this pattern will never last long. It will typically end in early divorce, usually only a few years after the couple gets married. And that's certainly not good news for couples going down this path.

2 Biggest Signs A Marriage Is Heading For DivorcePhoto: Klaus Nielsen / Pexels


2. Never resolving disagreements or always agreeing to disagree

You might think a good way to settle an argument is to agree to disagree, but Gottman says that while this might seem well-meaning, it's actually very harmful.

He also explained that, unlike the first pattern of being stuck in a cycle of negativity, this one can go on for years, and eventually result in an exhausting and long-lasting divorce.

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"With couples who divorce later, this results from people agreeing to disagree... withdrawing from conflict. They can stay together longer, but then around midlife, they start having this realization that their life is very empty," he says. "They're kind of like those couples that come in at dinner and don't talk to each other the entire time. We call them 'hostile detached couples.' They can last a long time."


Gottman also gave a timeline of how long a marriage like this ends up lasting: "In these cases, the couples generally last about 16 years after the wedding."

He continues, "Quite often, by the time they end up divorcing they have teenage children. Especially when they have teenagers, they wind up thinking things like, 'Boy when I was that age I had a lot of hope, and now I've wound up in this sort of empty marriage.' So they identify with their adolescent and exit the relationship. Oftentimes, there's also an affair. And that's what ends the relationship."



Gottman's advice is crystal clear: don't be passive in your relationship.


Whether it's steering clear of negativity in your marriage, or talking it out with each other until you come to a good resolution, you'll make your marital bond even stronger.

It sounds like pretty solid advice to us. After all, communication is extremely important in all relationships. If you aren't communicating properly, or not at all, you're ultimately setting up your marriage for failure.

RELATED: The #1 Sign Your Marriage In Crisis, According To A Therapist


Nicole Weaver is a senior writer for Showbiz Cheat Sheet whose work has been featured in New York Magazine, Teen Vogue, Psych Central, Popsugar, Yahoo, Huffington Post, MSN, Collider, and more.