A new study by researchers at the University of Michigan suggest that the way you argue with your spouse may actually predict if you'll have a long marriage or a quickie divorce.
While newlyweds who yell or call each other names will certainly have a far higher chance of getting divorced, another indicator is when during an argument, one party deals with the conflict constructively, while the other one withdraws:
The team used data from the Early Years of Marriage Study, which is one of the largest and longest research projects on the patterns of marital conflict. Over a 16-year period, 373 couples were interviewed four times. The interviews began in the first year of marriage, which was 1986 for all of them.
For this study, the University of Michigan researchers examined how both individual behaviors and patterns of behavior between partners affected the likelihood of divorce. They also examined whether behavior changed over time and whether there were racial or gender differences in behavior patterns and outcomes.
The shocking results: Even though 29 percent of husbands and 21 percent of wives reported having no conflicts at all during the first year of marriage in 1986, 46 percent had divorced by year 16 of the study, which was 2002. Interestingly, whether or not couples reported any conflict during the first year of marriage did not affect whether they had divorced by the last year studied.
Overall, husbands reported using more constructive behaviors and fewer destructive behaviors than wives. But over time, wives were less likely to use destructive strategies or withdraw, while husbands' use of these behaviors stayed the same through the years.
The study findings were published in the Journal of Marriage and Family.