Divorce Predictor Behaviors: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

According to marriage researchers, there are four behaviorsthat can predict a marriage will, in all certainty, end in divorce.  A collaboration between psychologists from the University of Washington and University of California-Berkeley came up with a system that predicted divorce in 93 percent of the marriages they examined.

The researchers used data from 79 married couples who participated in a 14 year study. Twenty-one of those couples divorced during those 14 years. The original study was published in 2002 and was led by the University of Washington psychologist involved in developing the divorce predictor system. The research group also utilized other marriage and divorce studies to come up with behaviors that they say almost guarantee a trip to divorce court.

The four behaviors have been dubbed “the four horsemen of the apocalypse,” referencing biblical characters which represent the end of the world. In this study, the “four horsemen” are contempt, criticism, defensiveness, and stonewalling. How often these behaviors reveal themselves during a 15 minute argument, as well as relationship satisfaction and thoughts of separating, enabled the research team to predict which couples would divorce with such a high rate of accuracy.

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

How, exactly, do these four behaviors show up in a marriage?

  • Contempt – The lead researcher pointed out that everyone struggles with negativity or frustration in their relationship, but contempt combines disgust and anger, and that alone can be enough to destroy a marriage. Even the simplest of disagreements, such as purchasing the wrong item at the grocery store, can explode into a huge fight, because those strong feelings of contempt closes a person off to consider the other spouse’s feelings.
  • Criticism – If there is a behavior that your spouse does that drives you crazy, over time that behavior becomes morphed into the person’s character. Instead of it just being your spouse not putting the cap back on the toothpaste, it becomes a major statement of who that person really is (i.e. inconsiderate to other’s feelings) and contempt and resentment begin to creep in.
  • Defensiveness – The researchers found that in many of the couples who ended up divorcing, there was one spouse who regularly became defensive when situations occurred instead of owning their responsibility to why the situation happened.
  • Stonewalling – Ignoring or walking away from an argument over and over again is a behavior that will ultimately be the kiss of death to a marriage. Never settling issues that arise in a marriage will, over time, cause the pressure to keep building and building, until one day, the marriage explodes.

If you are contemplating divorce, contact an experienced Orland Park divorce attorney to find out what legal options you may have. Call Kezy & Associates today at 708-518-8200 to schedule a free consultation with a dedicated attorney.