Can Divorce Be Predicted?

A new study shows that splitsville can be anticipated -- and sometimes even prevented -- by identifying some key issues.
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Told You So

Have you ever, sadly, helped a friend through a divorce -- thinking, all the while, that you saw it coming, even back when they were still just dating?

The latest research confirms that whatever you observed, way back when, it was not "too soon to tell."

According to a new study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, marital happiness -- or lack thereof -- can be predicted based on factors present even before a couple walks down the aisle. By following 100 couples over 13 years, before marriage, into marriage, and -- for some -- out of marriage, the researchers tracked what, over time, seemed to keep couples together, and what drove them apart.

But just because those factors -- most involving communication skills -- show up early doesn't mean they're destiny. On the contrary: The factors that affect connubial bliss most directly are those that we have the ability to change. And early detection is key to the cure.

"Most couples don't try to deal with issues until they become big. They're entertaining divorce by the time they seek help," says Mari Clements, PhD, assistant professor of clinical psychology at Fuller Theological Seminary and a coauthor of the study. "But these are problems we can address, even prevent."

According to this study and other experts, what early dynamics show most clearly how a marriage will fare down the line? How can you use this news in your marriage -- or in the one you hope to have?

Continued on page 2:  Gotta Talk


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