8 Common Things That Will Lead To Divorce If You're Not Careful

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Unhappy couple

The thing about relationships is that everyone has one or has had one, and thus has their take on the myths that keep them alive (and pull them apart). There are thousands of years worth of relationships that have tried and failed and succeeded, so how do you decipher the myths from reality? Which ones are relevant to YOU? The ones that actually can cause serious damage and even lead to divorce may surprise you. They're sneaky. They're sly. And they'll get you when you least expect it.

Here are 8 common things that will lead to divorce if you're not careful:

1. When one pursues, the other withdraws

The pattern goes like this: She demands and he withdraws, or she pursues and he distances. It goes in both directions: males are the pursuers, the ones making demands. This is VERY dysfunctional. A good relationship craves responsiveness to your partner’s needs and wishes. Responsiveness does not mean you have to drop everything and answer your partner’s call. It means acknowledging their need, even if you can’t do anything about it right now. It is the opposite of withdrawing and distancing.

RELATED: 8 Glaring Signs Of An Unhappy Marriage That's Likely Headed Straight For Divorce

2. When the negatives outweigh the positives

The golden ratio of positives to negatives in a relationship is 5 to 1. It might seem cold and scientific to look at it this way, but it's a good rule of thumb. Yes, great couples have negative moments. These are essential to learning what kind of interactions don’t work between the partners, how to renew courtship, learn about each other, and develop conflict resolution skills that in turn lead to trust and intimacy. However, if there is more than one negative incident for five positive ones, watch out!



3. When negative moments get blown out of proportion

When in conflict females tend to turn to criticism and males use stonewalling, that is, the silent treatment. Partners can also become defensive and contemptuous. As one becomes negative, the other reciprocates in kind, using in turn criticism, stonewalling, defensiveness, and contempt. It is the escalation that creates distancing in a couple, not the actual argument!

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4. When there are no positive emotions

When you don't have any negative emotions about your relationship, that doesn't mean everything is okay. If the partners can't use humor, show affection, support, or empathy — if they don't have a sense of joy and engagement toward the other, then there is no emotional connection. It is kind of living side by side, in parallel, yet being alone and lonely in a shared space. Daily events of shared laughter, chats, and hugs are very important to keep the relationship going because these little gestures renew and strengthen the emotional connection.

5. When you fail to repair painful moments

Every couple, at one point, will hurt each other’s feelings or fail to make the emotional connection that their partner needs. That’s life. It might result in an argument, and that’s okay. The dysfunctional response is to withdraw or avoid a fight altogether after being hurt. A functional response is to take the time to talk calmly about the incident and repair the harm done. Suppressing it, dismissing it, or ignoring it WON'T work long-term. It will pile up resentment instead.



6. When negative perceptions outweigh positive perceptions

When one partner interprets the other partner’s positive or neutral message as being negative, this is a huge red flag. It eventually leads to negative attributions — a situation where the upset partner maximizes the negative intent of the other and starts attributing negative character flaws or traits to their mate.

RELATED: Marriage Counselor Reveals The 3 'Top Complaints' From Men & Women In Couples Therapy

7. When one of you is in chronic alarm mode

A partner might feel overwhelmed by their mate and get triggered by various physiological responses, such as increased heart rate, sweating, and more. They stress out, anticipating a fight. The more a person gets aroused in an interaction or argument, the less they can take in information, listen, and empathize with the other. They become defensive and can’t engage in problem-solving. They only see danger, which they have to fight or flee. And to them, the danger is their partner. The solution is to distance oneself gently from the interaction until the alarm responses have calmed down.

8. When you fail to accept influence

Men often refuse to acknowledge women they think are in "complaining mode." This happens when they either retreat into their own spaces (withdrawal) or by escalating their belligerent or defensive responses. This is a surefire sign of dysfunction.

RELATED: 6 Issues That Cause Even Good Marriages To End In Divorce, According To Couples Therapists

Pascale Aline Bertoli is a psychotherapist and a professional coach who helps individual clients and groups resolve issues relating to personal relationships, traumatic stress recovery,  and more with her unique combination of various techniques that promotes long-lasting changes.