Factors That Suggest a Higher Risk of Divorce


Many people have tried to catalogue the factors that foretell the end of a marriage.  Anneli Rufus, an author and journalist who researched studies exploring divorce risk factors, lists some considerations associated with divorce.

Some of them are almost established wisdom – the age of the spouses when they walk down the aisle; limited finances; cohabitation before marriage; stepchildren. Some, however, are unusual. According to Ms. Rufus, the following are some additional divorce risk factors to consider:

  • If spouses frowned in photographs taken when they were children. Only 10 percent of people who smiled in early photographs had gone through a divorce later in life, compared with 31 percent who had a long face.
  • If only one partner smokes, the chance of divorce nearly doubles. If both people smoke the chance of divorce increases by nearly 2.4 times than if neither spouse lights up. One theory is that smokers tend to participate in more risky activities; another is that smokers are more likely to be economically disadvantaged and have less stable marriages.
  • If either spouse drinks more than two drinks per day, the chances of divorce are higher. When both drink three drinks or more daily, the couple have nearly twice the risk of divorce than if neither individual drinks to excess. Heavy drinkers may not choose good mates, and alcohol gets in the way of being a good spouse.
  • A husband with a high testosterone level is 43 percent more likely to get a divorce than a man with low testosterone.
  • If either partner has ever suffered a brain injury, there is a 17 percent chance the marriage will end in divorce.
  • Couples with two sons have a 36.9 percent chance of getting a divorce; couples with two daughters have a likelihood of 43.1 percent.
  • Couples who do not agree on how much they do or don’t want to have children are twice as likely to end their marriage.
  • Childless marriages are more likely to end in divorce. At least 66 percent of divorced couples in the United States are childless.
  • A woman on active duty in the military is 250 times more likely to get a divorce than a man on active duty.
  • A white woman who is separated from her spouse has a 98 percent change of divorce within six years of the separation, compared to 80 percent for Hispanic women, and 72 percent for African-American women.

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