17 Key Indicators That Predict the Likelihood of Divorce

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When people say “I do,” they don’t usually mean that they do until they don’t. Unfortunately, marriage is difficult, and without a good base and healthy relationship, a happily ever after isn’t always feasible. Although there is no way to know whether two people will have staying power or not, there are some things that can predict that two people will not make it in the long haul. According to science, these behaviors can be a red flag that things might not go as planned. 


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Age is a significant factor that helps to predict the likelihood that two people will stay in a marriage. According to studies, when people decide to tie the knot can be a predictor of whether they will stay together. A study showed that if people wait until after the age of 32, their chances of divorce decrease by 5% every year. 

Age Gap

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People who are closer in age tend to stay married more than those who have a wide gap in-between one another. Studies show that the larger the gap between two married people, the more likely they will get divorced. Even as little as one year makes it 3% more probable that the marriage will end in divorce. A ten-year difference can raise the risk of divorce by as much as 39%.

Employment status

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Both people being gainfully employed in a marriage tends to lend more stability to the union. A study at Harvard University showed that when the male partner doesn’t work full time in a marriage, there is a greater likelihood that the couple will be divorced as compared to couples where the man is employed full time. It would indicate that most men are still the breadwinners, and when they don’t hold up their end of the equity scale, it creates problems. 


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The amount of education that a couple has collectively and individually affects the risk of divorce. In those couples where one or both people did not graduate high school, there is a higher risk of divorcing when compared to people who have a higher educational attainment. Part of the discrepancy can be attributed to money problems, which are a significant reason that marriages don’t work. 

Communication Patterns

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According to science, communication patterns are extremely important in a marriage. The Gottman Institute labeled certain communication styles as the “four horsemen of the apocalypse” because they are so heavily associated with a high divorce rate. The four horsemen are contempt, criticism, defensiveness, and stonewalling. All of the four behaviors increase a couple’s risk of divorce significantly.

Level of Intimacy

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Intimacy is a strong indicator of marriages making it versus not surviving. Intimacy extends far past just sex, but what happens in the bed is usually reflective of what happens in a relationship. That is why marriages break over time, because the level of intimacy often drops off and without it, it is hard to maintain a healthy relationship.

Daily Stress

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It would make sense that two people who have a lot of stress in their lives would have a higher rate of divorce. Things like money, kids, and jobs are all stressors that can either bind a marriage together or have the potential to tear it apart. Everyone has stress in their lives, but two people who work together to reduce it are more likely to make it than those who don’t. 


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One of the biggest indicators of whether a marriage will make it or not is respect. When one of both partners doesn’t have a healthy amount of respect for one another or the marriage, it is hard for the relationship to last. If there is disrespect that crosses boundaries, then it is hard to repair hurt feelings and regain the respect lost. 


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When people marry partners with the same religious beliefs, they are more likely to make it than when they marry people outside of their religion. The degree to which religion affects marriage is usually dependent on how faithful one or both partners are. When children are involved, conflict over religion can take an even bigger toll on the couple.


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Couples who are more politically aligned tend to enjoy more marriage success than those who view the world differently. Politics is about how someone views justice and fairness in the world. If two people see things differently, it can create a lot of resentment and it can also tear away the respect you have for the ideas of one another when you are adamantly opposed.


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According to recent reports, when a couple has children, their chance of divorce decreases by 40%. Therefore, couples who choose not to have children might be putting their marriage at a disadvantage unless both parties want it that way. Likely, the larger divorce rate is due to how much easier it is to break apart when children aren’t involved in a divorce.


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People who have a stable income and aren’t fighting money problems all the time tend to stay together more than those who have money issues that keep them in a state of stress. When things are tight, that creates a lot of disagreement, and sometimes, that can lead to resentment in a marriage. Resentment is a key factor in marriages not making it.

Disregard for Privacy

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Privacy in a marriage is a part of trust. Without trust, it is hard for a couple to maintain a healthy relationship. When the trust in a marriage is gone, that makes divorce a lot more likely. Almost everyone needs to have a certain level of privacy outside of their relationship. Without it, it tends to become smothering and nonsustainable. 


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One of the biggest predictors of divorce is monogamy. Not many marriages can stay together when one party has cheated on the other or when both parties cheat on one another. Monogamy creates a tie in a marriage and a commitment to the marriage. 

Personality and Goals

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Goals are an important part of marriage satisfaction. Two people who view success and goal attainment in the same light usually work together for a successful marriage. Problems often arise when one partner has different goals and objectives for the future and the other does not agree. Two people are less likely to divorce if they view life in the same way, including life goals. 

Family Issues

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When you marry someone, you marry their family. A rift in extended families can lead to a lot of stress, and eventually, it can increase your risk of divorce. Healthy marriages don’t exist in a vacuum. They are created with love and support. That support necessarily should come from people in your life outside just the married couple.


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Having a child with a major medical issue can increase a couple's risk of divorce. When someone is sick, especially a child or parent, it puts a lot of stress on the caregiver. Usually, that is one person in the couple. If two people don’t work together and support one another through major illnesses and life events, that will increase the likelihood that the marriage will fail.

Successful Relationships are Hard Work

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There are all sorts of reasons why some marriages make it and others don’t. Although you can’t ever pinpoint one thing that will dictate a successful relationship and marriage, there are some things that you should avoid to have the best likelihood of a happily ever after. 

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