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How To Tell If You're At Risk For Divorce

Marriages are obviously as unique as the individuals in them. But are there factors that can predispose a marriage to success…or failure?Apparently—and many of them are things you may not have  control over. A new piece at The Daily Beast culls together a list of 15 factors that raise your chances of getting a divorce.  There’s a pretty good chance you’ve got at least one of them going on. (I know I do.)

But I look at these lists like I try to look at all statistics. Having  a risk factor for something doesn’t mean you’re doomed to it. It might, however, help you keep an eye out for “symptoms” in the future, tend to your marriage, and improve it.

1. Did you want a child more than your husband did?

You are twice as likely to divorce as a couple who was equally excited about having kids. (This goes for the first kid and subsequent ones)

2. Do you have boys, girls, or a combination?

Families with two daughters are more likely to divorce than families with two sons. A two girl household is at a 43.1% risk of divorce, while one with two boys has a 36.9% chance. (Didn’t we just read that families with two daughters were happier?)

3. Does your child have ADHD?

If your child has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, you have a 22% higher chance of divorcing before that child turns 8 than families with “neurotypical” children.

4. Did you lose a child in late pregnancy, during or after birth?

Loss of a child during pregnancy or in the postnatal period increases your chance of divorce by 40%.

5. Did you smile in photographs when you were young?

If you didn’t, you may not be an optimist, which increases your chance of divorce exponentially—according to two studies, not smiling in childhood photos or yearbook photos was correlated with a 5x higher risk of divorce.

This last one really bugged me, and not just because I am famously grumpy in photographs (or at least went through a grumpy stage when my sister was born). Since when is smiling in pictures a sign of optimism, or of anything besides posing for the camera? The study results have been interpreted as a measure of ability to get along with people. But who’s to say it’s not just an ability to put on a happy face? Of course, that may be protective against divorce in its own right.

The bottom line is that your marriage is a union of two people, not statistics. You may have one or two or ten risk factors, but it’s the way you and your spouse live your lives and treat each other that matters.

See 11 more risk factors for divorce here.

How does divorce affect your children?  It depends on the child.

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