9 Things That Science Says Can Predict a Divorce

5 min read
Predict A Divorce

Historically, nearly one in two marriages in America has ended in divorce. Although recent statistics indicate that the divorce rate is dropping, thanks to Millennials, the number of people choosing to get married in the first place is also falling. And, for those who do take the plunge, there is still a substantial risk for many of them that the marriage will not last.

Nobody gets married expecting to get divorced afterward. However, there are certain indictors that have been found to be reliable signposts that a couple may be headed for an eventual break-up. Here are some Things That Science Says Can Predict a Divorce.

#9. The Age at Which You Get Married

Whilst there is no ideal age at which you should get married, research indicates that couples that marry in their teens or mid-30s are far more likely to get divorced, than those who tie the knot in their late 20s-or early 30s. Teenage couples are particularly at risk.

Older couples should also be wary. One study suggests that for those aged above 32, the risk of divorce increases by 5% every year.

#8. The Difference in Ages between Spouses

Difference In Ages

The age gap between spouses also can be a significant factor.  A study published in 2015 found that where there was a one year difference in the ages of the two spouses, they were 3% more likely to divorce than if they were the same age. These rates amplified the greater the age difference – an age difference of 5 years makes them 18% more likely to divorce, whilst a ten-year gap increases this to 39% more likely.

#7. Having a Husband Not Working Full-Time

Despite all the changes in society in the past fifty years or so, the stereotype where the male in a relationship is regarded as the main breadwinner is still prevalent.

Whilst the employment status of wives does not greatly affect the chances of a couple getting divorced, where the husband does not have a full-time job, research suggests that a couple has a 3.3% chance of getting divorced the following year, compared to 2.5% if he was in full employment.

#6. Having Children

Divorce Children

Whether a couple has children or not can have a major impact on whether they subsequently file for divorce. In 2010, it was reported that 66% of divorced couples in the United States were childless, as opposed to 40% who had children.

That should not be taken as a sign that those couples who choose to have children are any happier than those who opt otherwise. It is more an indication that, when children are involved, people are more inclined to make a marriage endure for fear that a divorce will have on the well-being of their offspring.

Not having children can also be a source of marital discord when one partner in a relationship wants them, and the other does not. The same study found that such disagreements make a couple twice as likely to seek a divorce eventually.

#5. The Degree of Educational Achievement

Bluntly put, the longer a couple have stayed at school, the less likely they are to divorce. The evidence for this is pretty stark – over half of marriages where the couple did not finish high school are likely to end in divorce, compared with 30% of marriages between college graduates.

The reason for this has been attributed to the fact that lower educational achievement means lower household income, and, therefore, a more stressful life.

#4. Money

Money Divorce

Money is the root of all evil, at least as far as divorce is concerned, with a  2012 study finding that it was the top predictor of divorce for both men and women. Surprisingly, it is not having too little money that is the problem – although this can put a strain on a couple, the struggle of making both ends meet can actually pull two people closer together.

Rather it is high-income relationships that are most at risk, especially where one person goes out to work, and the other stays at home. This disparity in earning power can cause friction in a marriage, and high-income earners often have taxing jobs with frequent travel for work, or long hours spent in the office, rather than at home.

#3. The Choice of Profession of Either Spouse

Statistically, certain professions have been proven to carry a greater risk of divorce with them. Bartenders, flight attendants and gaming managers are three such jobs, because of the long hours, time spent away from home, and the environments to which people are exposed during their working lives. By contrast, actuaries, medical, life, and physical scientists have amongst the lowest divorce rates.

#2. Having Divorced Parents

Sadly, if either of a couple in a marriage is the child of divorced parents, the higher the likelihood they will end up the same way. The evidence for this varies, but one study found that a woman whose parents had divorced was 69% more likely to get divorced herself, whilst, if the parents of both spouses had divorced, the chance that they would follow suit increased by a massive 189%.

The exact reasons for this are not clear, but some experts have opined that Is because the couple of divorced parents lack a blueprint to follow in their own lives as to what a successful and enduring marriage looks like.

#1. Behavioral Factors

Signs Of Divorce

There are also a whole raft of behavioral factors that can prove the death of any relationship, not just a marriage. These include certain behaviors which have been labelled, somewhat graphically, as the” four horsemen of the apocalypse,” namely:

Contempt – where one partner regards the other in a relationship as beneath them;

Criticism – the act in which one person turns the behavior of a spouse in a statement about their character;

Defensiveness – commonly found in relationships where one couple in a marriage often assumes the role of victim; and

Stonewalling – Choosing to walk away from a conversation or discussion with a spouse, and refusing to engage with them for fear that it may turn toxic.


Of course, even if some, or even all, of these factors, are present in your marriage, it does not mean that you are inevitably headed for the divorce court. There are plenty of marriages that have endured for years despite disparities in age, wealth, professional status, and even behaviors. However, they are factors that should be considered when choosing a potential spouse, and deciding whether to marry them or not.