280 Divorce Factors

Based on research done by Birditt, Kira. S., Brown, Edna., Orbuch, Terri. L., & Mcllvane, Jessica. M. (2010) written by Bethany Wellman, M.S.

Divorce rates in the U.S. are as high as 50% in first marriages. Can initial marital destructive patterns of behavior, predict divorce years later?

In 1986, Psychologists examined 373 newlyweds, 53% Black and 47% White. The partners’ reports of destructive behaviors (such as yelling, blame, criticism, insults, and contempt) and withdrawal (like leaving the situation or keeping quiet) during marital conflicts in the 1st year predicted higher divorce rates in years 3, 7, and 16 years.

By year 16, 55% of Black Americans and 36% of White Americans divorced. Initial conflict behaviors used, not race, predicted divorce years later. Constructive behaviors remain consistent long-term. Over the years, women reduced their destructive and withdrawal behaviors, but husbands did not change theirs. Use of quiet withdrawal during conflict led to lower divorce among Black, but not White couples.

Couples: Face your difficulties without harmful words or avoidance. Identify destructive acts like blame, insult, and withdrawal. Learn to negotiate and settle disputes. Listen to your partner. Try to understand their needs when they express concerns. Face problems by expressing your views without yelling. Find ways you can work together so you both meet your needs.


Birditt, K. S., Brown, E., Orbuch, T. L., & Mcllvane, J. M. (2010). Marital Conflict Behaviors and Implications for Divorce over 16 Years. Journal of Marriage and Family72(5), 1188-1204. 

Show More
Back to top button