This blog often reports about the findings that predict happy relationships. Spouses who are agreeable, secure, and don’t seek novelty. Husbands who help out with housework and childrearing. Wives who appreciate and accept their husbands. Couples who are college-educated, over the age of 30, and waited 2 years before getting hitched.
But it’s just as informative to look at what causes divorce, and nobody does it better than John Gottman at the Gottman Institute. He has studied thousands of couples over the past 40 years and his research can be summarized in a neat infographic.
Women, for better or worse, are the caretakers of relationship. Men are usually content with a relationship even when it’s broken, which is why women have to bring issues up.
Some of the highlights:
Women bring up 80% of relationship issues.
The ones who shut down and refuse to talk about these issues? 85% of them are men.
69% of conflict in relationships is unresolvable, perpetual problems.
And the four predictors of divorce are things I’m sure you are familiar with:
- Criticism (sharing a complaint while putting the blame on your partner)
- Contempt (negative thoughts about your partner coming from a position of superiority)
- Defensiveness (self-protecting either in the form of victimizing yourself or righteous indignation)
- Stonewalling (emotionally withdrawing from your partner.)
I think this confirms things we already know.
Women, for better or worse, are the caretakers of relationship. Men are usually content with a relationship even when it’s broken, which is why women have to bring issues up. When women bring things up, men tend to shut down or pull away.
This means that they are often poor communicators, but it also may mean that women have too many complaints, expect too much of men, and don’t know how to deliver their feedback in a way that men can listen.
And if you look at your relationship and see that you are the person who is critical and contemptful, you’d a) better check your attitude and b) choose a different partner who doesn’t make you so critical and contemptful.
Your thoughts, below, are appreciated.