If you’re interested in the psychology of love and relationships, chances are you’re familiar with John Gottman. The psychologist and professor is one of the preeminent names in the field, having spent decades studying marriage and partnership. In other words, he knows his stuff. As such, he believes he can predict whether or not a couple will end up getting divorced within 10 minutes of meeting them by using one simple test.
Gottman looks for signs of “fruitless fighting.”
As explained by psychologist Matt Baker, “[Gottman] claims that he can predict whether a couple is going to get a divorce with a 91 percent accuracy rate within 10 minutes of meeting them if they show the signs of fruitless fighting.”
What does that mean, exactly? Well, Gottman talks to the couples and looks for signs that they’re not as happy or as compatible as they might initially appear.
The warning signs include: being harsh with one another when beginning the conversation; being defensive, critical, or using stonewalling; flooding; physiological distress; bad memories; and failed ability to patch things up.
What does this mean in real terms?
All of these psychological terms are hard to put into real-world contexts for many people. After all, all couples fight at some point. And when people are really angry or disappointed, they might react or say things they don’t necessarily mean, but that doesn’t mean the relationship is doomed, right?
Maybe not, but according to Gottman, it’s not fighting that’s the problem — it’s how it’s done.
For instance, having toxic communication that includes accusations, contempt, or blatant disrespect certainly spells disaster and likely predicts divorce. Same goes for if one person becomes so flooded with overwhelming feelings that they can no longer express themselves.
And, it should go without saying, but being so stressed out because of your relationship that you develop physical symptoms like ulcers or aches and pains is a serious problem.
Want a partner? Attract love with the power of your mind.
Sweetn is a new research-based startup that shows you how to call love into your life with the power of your mind. Take our quiz, and try our tools—they can transform your energy and your love life in a few weeks. Just click here.
Gottman’s test is very telling not just for predicting divorce.
While it’s true that many couples in relationships that include the above red flags will ultimately divorce, some do stay on beyond the relationship’s sell-by date. So, perhaps it’s better to say that Gottman’s test predicts the likelihood of a toxic relationship!
Of course, it’s also important to note that relationships with a toxic dynamic can potentially be repaired with both couples therapy and individual work to reshape harmful habits and perspectives. It takes a lot of effort and dedication, but it is possible.