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The surprising factor that is most likely to lead to divorce

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Kayleigh Dray
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Researchers have exposed one of the most common factors in a divorce – and it’s actually quite surprising.

When we were children, we watched countless Disney princesses gallop off with their very own Prince Charming into the sunset for their ‘happy ever after’ ending.

What was never made clear, however, was what happened next. Did Cinderella grow tired of life as a full-time homemaker? Did Snow White miss living with her seven BFFs? Did Sleeping Beauty ever wake up one day and realise that she’d made a mistake? 

Did any of our favourite Disney princesses ever decide to file for divorce?

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It is no secret that an estimated 42% of marriages in the UK alone now end in divorce – nor that divorce rates rose during the second half of the 20th century, as women found more economic independence as they entered the work-force.

But, despite what some traditionalists would have you believe, the feminist movement is not to blame for the increased divorce rates.

 Alexandra Killewald, a professor of sociology at Harvard University, has collected and studied date on over 6,3000 different-sex couples aged 18 to 55.

Looking specifically at the division of labour, financial resources, and the wives’ economic prospects following divorce, Killewald compared couples married in 1974 or earlier with those who tied the knot in 1975 or later. And the results have proven, once and for all, that the onus of forging the perfect ‘work-life balance’ shouldn’t be on women.

In fact, it should be placed on men.

Bride and groom at their wedding

The feminist movement is not to blame for the increased divorce rates, despite what some may tell you.

Speaking to Science Daily, Killewald explained that men without a full-time job are far more likely to see their marriage end in tatters than those who do.

“While contemporary wives need not embrace the traditional female homemaker role to stay married, contemporary husbands face higher risk of divorce when they do not fulfil the stereotypical breadwinner role, by being employed full-time,” she said.

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The four red flags that will spell trouble in any relationship

Killewald added: “Often when scholars or the media talk about work-family policies or work-family balance, they focus mostly on the experiences of women.

“Although much of the responsibility for negotiating that balance falls to women, my results suggest one way that expectations about gender and family roles and responsibilities affect men’s lives, too: men who aren’t able to sustain full-time work face heightened risk of divorce.”

The four red flags that signal trouble in any relationship

John Gottman, a professor of psychology who specialises in martial stability, has revealed that it’s very easy to predict which relationships don’t have what it takes to go the distance.

In fact, he is able to predict with 93.6 accuracy whether a couple is going to divorce or not. And, among the contributing factors he identified as causes, four have stood out, time and time again – so much so that Gottman has dubbed them the “four horseman of the apocalypse”.

1) Criticism

For example: “You’re late because you don’t care about me.”

Criticism specifically frames the complaints in the context of a defect in your partner, strikes at their heart, and signals the end of your relationship is set to come sooner rather than later.

2) Contempt

Whether it takes the form of name-calling, eye-rolling, sneering, mockery, and hostile humour, contempt is poisonous to a relationship because it conveys disgust.

3) Defensiveness

In pushing the blame onto other people – and, in failing to take responsibility for our behaviour – we damage our relationships irreparably

4) Stonewalling

Stonewalling essentially means withdrawing from a conversation, even if physically present. It can be extremely harmful to a relationship, as it prevents conflict from getting resolved.

To find out more about the four red flags that signal divorce, read our article here.

Image: iStock

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of Stylist.co.uk, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

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