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Study: Researchers Claim They Can Predict Divorce with 94% Accuracy Based on Communication Error


What is the key to a successful marriage? There may be no specific formula. However, one researcher believes he can predict whether or not a marriage will end in divorce with 94% accuracy based on one communication strategy.

John Gottman, Ph.D. co-founded The Gottman Institute with his wife Julie Gottman, Ph.D. Together, they have surveyed over 40,000 couples through several decades of research. The institute provides data on the probability that a couple will divorce and tips for successful marriages.

Through their publications, the Gottmans have researched thousands of couples and determined the most common relationship pitfalls that end marriages and lead to divorce. They now say that they can predict with 94% accuracy whether or not a relationship will fail based on one communication technique: Whether or not the couple “turns toward” one another when communicating can be the difference in whether or not the marriage succeeds or fails. The Gottmans say that when a couple turns toward one another, they make and respond to what they call “bids for connection.”

What does “turning toward one another” mean?

According to the Gottmans, “turning toward your partner” means exactly that, physically pointing yourself in their direction. This becomes a small gesture of acknowledgment and care, signaling that they are being seen, heard, and appreciated. “Bids,” according to the Gottmans can range from little things (like trying to draw your attention by calling your name) to big things (like asking for deeper needs to be met).

According to the Gottmans’ research, happy couples turn toward their partner 20 times more than couples who are having a difficult time connecting. Couples who stayed together turned toward their partner 86% of the time compared to 33% of the time for couples who were in distress.

The Gottmans’ research suggests that a response to a “bid” is a critical part of a healthy marriage regardless of how subtle they are. Bids generally contain a subtext such as when one partner wants the other to join in an activity. The example they provide is: “Come make a cheese board with me.” This also means, “join me in an adventure” or “I want to spend quality time with you.” According to the Gottmans, missing a bid can be more harmful than rejecting one altogether. Those who say that they cannot do someone are at least acknowledging the bid, according to the Gottmans.

The Gottmans have also uncovered four communication styles that they call “The Four Horsemen.” These are criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. Such communication styles, according to their research, heavily predicted whether or not a marriage would end in divorce.

What do you think? How often do you and your partner “turn toward” one another?

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Westchase Law, P.A. represents the interests of Tampa couples who are pursuing a divorce. Call our Tampa family lawyers today to schedule an appointment, and we can begin discussing your next steps right away.



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