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Divorce is widespread in the U.S., and the costs to society of such a high divorce rate have been widely debated. Several researchers have attempted to determine the factors that contribute to the break-up of marriages, and marriage counselors have tried to find the best methods to help couples who want to avoid divorce stay together in a healthy, happy relationship.
Factors that Contribute to Divorce Risk
Factors that have been found to make a couple more likely to divorce include:
- Marrying younger than age 25 — young couples have a markedly higher divorce risk
- Significant age difference between the spouses —when the wife is much older than her husband; not the reverse, though.
- The time point in the marriage — about half of all divorce take place within the first seven years of the marriage, but midlife shows another peak in the divorce rate.
Ratio of Positive to Negative Interactions
In addition, the "type of marriage" classification has been used by some researchers to help determine couples' risk of divorcing. Dr. John Gottman of the University of Washington, a marriage/divorce researcher, reported that strong (low-divorce-risk) marriages have at least a five-to-one ratio of positive to negative interactions between the spouses, and that when this ratio starts to drop, the risk of divorce rises.
Five Types of Marriage
The five types of marriage he describes, plus their risk of divorce, are:
Traditional: lowest risk. Couples who share a traditional interpretation of gender roles and are comfortable with the roles have the lowest risk of divorcing.
Cohesive, Individuated: low risk. In a cohesive, individuated marriage, the spouses value and use shared responsibilities, autonomy, and a view of marriage as a refuge.
Operatic: high risk. Operatic marriages are volatile relationships, with cycles of fighting and making up.
Disengaged: high risk. These marriages are of individuals who are emotionally distant, don't need intimacy, and lack mutual interests.
Pursuer–Distancer: highest risk. In a pursuer–distancer marriage, one spouse (more commonly the wife) raises the marriage's problems, and the other spouse refuses to talk about the problems or dismisses them.
(Source: CBS News)
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