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Can Eye-Rolling Ruin a Marriage? Researchers Study Divorce Risk - WSJ
Updated Aug. 6, 2002

University of Washington psychology professor John Gottman, a leading divorce-prediction researcher (www.gottman.com), has videotaped thousands of couples and codes positive and negative facial expressions, body language and comments.

Dr. Gottman and his colleagues have calculated that strong marriages have at least a five-to-one ratio of positive to negative interactions. When the ratio starts to drop, the marriage is at high risk for divorce.

In real life, no couple can keep a running tally of positive and negative displays. But therapists say it's important to ramp up the positives after a single negative occurs so the ratio doesn't slip to a dangerous level. Four negative qualities are the strongest predictors for divorce: contempt, criticism, defensiveness and stonewalling. Couples also need to be aware of subtle negatives such as facial expressions.

"There are thousands of them that happen in a week's time in a marriage," says Cheryl Rampage, senior therapist at the Family Institute at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.

While half of all divorces occur in the first seven years of marriage, a study published this spring in Family Process claimed that another risky time for divorce is in midlife. The study followed 79 Bloomington, Ind., couples that had been married an average of five years. Four years after the research commenced, 9% had divorced. By the end of the 14-year study, 22 couples, or 28%, had divorced.

The couples that divorced early were volatile and negative. But the marriages that ended later were on the opposite end of the spectrum, marked by suppressed emotions -- described as the type of couple that sits together in a restaurant but doesn't talk. Often those couples aren't aware they are in a high-risk marriage because the early years are so tolerable.
body_language  divorce  marriage  relationships  predictors  facial_expressions  TARA_PARKER-POPE  negativity_bias 
november 2017 by jerryking

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