13 Statistically-Backed Red Flags That Can Predict If A Marriage Will Fail

13 Statistically-Backed Red Flags That Can Predict If A Marriage Will Fail


Sometimes, couples defy the odds and prove people wrong. Other times, their marriage is dead on arrival.

By Ossiana Tepfenhart

Everyone knows that one couple people secretly wish would just break up but somehow seem to always magically decide that they need to have a wedding to fix their problems. It’s a cliché that plays out in just about every single social circle out there, and it’s such a common trope is because of the way people are.

Think about it. When people walk down the aisle, they don’t do it thinking they will have a failed marriage. Everyone likes to believe that their marriage will make it, even if it isn’t always realistic.

Sometimes, couples defy the odds and prove people wrong. Other times, their marriage is dead on arrival.

Here are 13 statistically-backed red flags that can predict if a marriage will end in divorce.

1. One (or both) parties in the marriage makes a living as a bartender, casino manager, or flight attendant

These professions may bring in the big bucks, but they sure aren’t good for marriage statistics. In fact, statistics show that these professions are the ones that are most likely to end in divorce.

For bartenders (divorce rate of 52.7%), the main cause is irregular hours and the social nature of the profession; flight attendants (divorce rate of 50.5%) travel on irregular schedules; and casino managers (divorce rate of 50.3%) are involved in high-stress situations.

2. The bride had serious pre-wedding jitters

Believe it or not, a groom having cold feet doesn’t necessarily bode badly for a marrying couple. However, the couple should be seriously concerned if the bride has major misgivings before the wedding.

One study pointed out that bridal pre-wedding jitters more than doubles the risk of divorce a couple will face.

3. There was seriously contempt-filled behavior happening before the marriage

The Gottman Institute is known for being able to predict divorce (or abusive marriages) with a 90% accuracy rate.

John Gottman, who is the head of the institute, claimed that contempt is the number one predictor of a bad marriage, not to mention divorce. Sadly, once contempt takes root in a relationship, it’s usually no longer salvageable.

4. You got married as a teenager, or you got married after 32

Though there are always outliers, studies show that the best marriage chances happen between 20 and 32 years of age. If you marry too young, you tend to outgrow your partner. Being too “old” also doesn’t bode well.

A study revealed that every year you wait to marry after 32 boosts your chances of divorce by 5%. And that’s certainly a red flag that predicts the end of a marriage before it even has time to grow.

marriage statistics that can predict divorce

5. The husband doesn’t work full-time or is a stay-at-home dad

The concept of a stay-at-home husband may be very progressive, but it’s clear that something isn’t too healthy about it for many men.

Studies show that men who work less than their wives are more likely to face divorce. Whether this is due to resentment about uneven workloads, who brings in more money, or because they feel emasculated remains to be seen.

6. If the wife out-earns her spouse, the divorce risk more than doubles

While we’re in a time now where young women are out-earning young men, it’s not all good news for married couples. Because women who make more than their spouses may be headed for a split down the road.

Swiss study showed that female breadwinners have more than double the chance of getting divorces when compared to women who stay at home.

7. One or both partners didn’t graduate high school

It seems like staying in school really does pay off, even when it comes to your romance.

Studies have found that more than half of all high school dropouts will have marriages that end in divorce, compared to only 30% of college grads. It’s believed that the lower standard of living they have may contribute to their marital stress.

8. Wedding planning turned into a disaster

A lot of wedding planners swear by this rule, and it’s one that makes tons of sense. After all, planning a wedding can drive a major wedge between couples before they even exchange vows.

According to a survery from Zola, of 500 newlywed or engaged couples, 96% revealed that they found wedding planning stressful, with 40% saying planning was “very” or “extremely” stressful, and 71% admitting that wedding planning was more stressful than finding a job or buying a home.

Couples that tend to bicker, argue, and straight-up fight over wedding plans are couples that often have deeper underlying issues that impede their ability to be happy together.

marriage statistics that can predict divorce

9. One or both partners are deeply pessimistic

It seems like a sunny outlook might be more important to your marriage than you think. A bad attitude towards life can make marriages turn sour — fast. And how big a difference it makes is pretty shocking.

One study even linked boys who didn’t smile in school photos to experience a 500% increase in the chance of divorce later on.

10. Only one partner smokes

Believe it or not, studies show that couples that had one smoker rather than two smokers had a higher chance of divorce. Couples that didn’t smoke at all had the lowest divorce rates of all.

Many believe that the reason why this is such a strong warning sign of a bad marriage is because it signals major lifestyle differences. Another reason may be the decrease in longevity caused by smoking, which can lead the non-smoker in the relationship to reconsider a future with their smoker partner.

11. More than 20% of the wedding guests refused to attend

Studies have found a direct correlation between bad marriages and low wedding attendance.

Your risk of having an unhappy marriage that ends in divorce climbs significantly if a large chunk of your wedding guests refuse to attend your wedding. Considering that many people drop out of weddings they don’t agree with, this makes a lot of sense.

12. Debt is a major issue for one or both partners

Finances matter, especially when you’re planning to spend your life with someone. Four in 10 marriages end in divorce because of financial issues, and there are plenty of money problems that drive a wedge between couples.

Around one-third of all divorces are due to financial issues, and Lord only knows how many arguments are because of money-related problems later on.

In fact, multiple studies have shown that couples with high levels of debt and low wages are more likely to divorce. They are also far less likely to report satisfaction with their marriages.

13. The husband has a high level of testosterone

High testosterone in men is typically seen as attractive to women, but that comes with a serious caveat. It’s linked to higher divorce rates and infidelity.

One study determined that “age-adjusted testosterone levels are lower in married men than among those who are single or divorced… Testosterone is relatively high during the years surrounding a divorce, and testosterone level falls during the years surrounding marriage. Changing testosterone levels may explain the low criminality found among married men and the increase in the abuse of wives around the time of divorce.”

marriage statistics that can predict divorce

Though these marriage statistics that can predict divorce can be daunting, that doesn’t mean your marriage will also end this way. Still, it doesn’t hurt to be highly aware of the risk factors in your own relationship.


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