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Video:5 Warning Signs of an Impending Divorce

with Kerry Lusignan

There are 5 warning signs of an impending divorce that you should learn to recognize. Watch this informational video from About.com to know what to look for at the end of a marriage.See Transcript

Transcript:5 Warning Signs of an Impending Divorce

Hi! This is Kerry Lusignan, and I'm a certified Gottman Method couples therapist here for About.com. Today we're going to talk about warning signs of an impending divorce.

Common Signs of an Impending Divorce

At present, there is extensive research that has been conducted over the last several decades that allow us to predict the signs of marital crisis and impending divorce. Much of this research has been done by Dr. John Gottman of the Gottman Relationship Institute in Seattle, Washington. Gottman's research shows us that the clues to a couple's breakup are in the ways that they argue.

What Are the 5 Warning Signs of an Impending Divorce

The first warning sign is harsh startup. One thing we know about couples and how they argue is that the first few minutes of their conversation determine if it goes well or poorly. Another way to put it is that 96 percent of the time, if you bring an issue to your partner harshly, it will escalate into an argument and the discussion will fail.

The second sign is called the "Four Horseman of the Apocalypse." This is a term that Dr. John Gottman uses to describe behaviors that are exhibited during conflict between couples. Horseman 1 is criticism. Criticism reflects bringing an issue to your partner in a harsh fashion, or with a judgmental or critical tone. Horseman two is defensiveness. And while defensiveness may seem like a way to protect yourself, it's really a way to blame your partner and not hear them. Horseman three is contempt. Contempt is just what it sounds like - it's when things get really nasty, and you turn the volume up in an argument. People are belligerent, they're critical, they roll their eyes, they're sarcastic, and you often globalize problems as if they're the norm and not the exception. The fourth horseman is called stonewalling. Stonewalling on the surface often looks like your partner is just shutting down and not listening to you. There's no reaction and it can be really frustrating to deal with.

More Important Warning Signs of an Impending Divorce

The third sign is flooding. Flooding reflects, often, physiological distress. People's heart rates go up, and they're really in fight, flight or freeze mode.

The fourth sign is failed repair attempts. While the four horsemen alone can predict marital demise with an 82 percent accuracy, when you throw in failed repair attempts, it reaches into the 90s. Learning how to make up and repair is critical.

The fifth sign is bad memories - deeply entrenched couples often have a negative view of their marriage or spouse, and rewrite the past. If you find it difficult to recall your early days fondly, and you and your spouse have rewritten your marital history, chances are the marriage has tipped into what Dr. Gottman calls "negative sentiment override." Negative sentiment override is when a couple or one individual in the marriage perceives the glass as half-empty. It has everything to do with assuming that your partner has bad intentions and being unable to recall what is positive anymore.

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