Even when your marriage or relationship seems to be going swimmingly, there are sometimes tiny little signs that all isn’t well.
A partner who spends all his/her time on their smartphone for instance – or someone who never bothers to say, ‘Thank you.’
Studies often highlight simple things, like how couples speak to one another – or their family’s marital history – as a pointer to whether things might go wrong further down the line.
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Here’s five science-backed signs that you might be heading for trouble in your relationship.
Your partner ignores you to look at their phone
James Roberts of Baylor University says that smartphones are now up there with money and kids as a ‘relationship killer’ – and may be a factor in an increasing number of divorces.
Simply looking at your phone in the presence of your partner can be enough to harm your relationship, Roberts says.
The researchers say that 70% of their sample of 143 individuals felt that their partner’s phone interfered with their relationship.
Roberts says, ‘Something as seemingly innocent as using a smartphone in the presence of a romantic partner undermined the quality of the relationship. This can create a domino effect:’
Your partner’s parents are divorced
People whose parents are divorced are more likely to get divorced themselves – and oddly, it’s thought to be due to genetics.
Researchers in a 2017 study analysed Swedish population registries, and found that children of divorced parents were more likely to be divorced, even if they had been adopted.
In other words, they did not ‘follow the pattern’ of their adoptive parents – but instead of their genetic parents, the researchers say.
Kenneth S. Kendler of Virginia Commonwealth University says, ‘I see this as a quite significant finding. Nearly all the prior literature emphasized that divorce was transmitted across generations psychologically. Our results contradict that, suggesting that genetic factors are more important.’
Your partner’s voice often sounds strained
Researchers at the University of Utah believe that there are clues hidden in people’s tone of voice – and that listening to people’s tone is more important than WHAT people say.
The researchers built an algorithm which can predict whether couples will stay together with 80% accuracy – better than human relationship counsellors.
Researchers at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering and the University of Utah recorded hundreds of conversations from over 100 couples over the course of two years.
The computer programme analysed couple’s tone of voice using pitch, intensity and ‘jitter’ – which can indicate emotional strain.
They found that analysing people’s impact on each other could predict whether they would split up – more accurately than human relationship experts.
Your partner rarely says, ‘Thank you’
The key to whether relationships last over the long haul might be the frequency with which your other half says two little words.
Not ‘I love you’, but, ‘Thank you.’
Researchers at the University of Georgia interviewed 468 married people – and found that gratitude was a key ingredient in making marriages work.
‘We found that feeling appreciated and believing that your spouse values you directly influences how you feel about your marriage, how committed you are to it, and your belief that it will last,’ said professor Ted Futris.
Your partner ignores what you say
Mathematician Hannah Fry observed hundreds of couples, monitoring everything from facial expressions to blood pressure, believes a simple formula dictates whether couples are ‘high risk’.
Fry believes that if couples react negatively to each other all the time – for instance by dismissing or ignoring what the other says, the entire relationship can be poisoned.
Fry says such negative relationships hit a ‘tipping point’. She says, ‘In relationships where both partners consider themselves as happy, bad behaviour is dismissed as unusual.
‘In negative relationships, however, the situation is reversed. Bad behaviour is considered the norm.
‘A husband, for instance, might think his wife’s grumpiness is ‘typical’, due to her ‘selfishness’ or other negative personalit