Three Predictors Your Marriage Will Survive

Al and Tipper Call it Quits

By Vicky Nguyen and Candice Nguyen
|  Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010  |  Updated 10:02 AM PDT
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American Journalists Return Home

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WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 26: Former Vice President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore and his wife Tipper Gore wave as they walk down a sidewalk at the White House after posing for photos with U.S. President George W. Bush and other Nobel Prize winners November 26, 2007 in Washington DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

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Three Predictors a Marriage Will Survive

See the three predictors a Santa Clara University expert say are the key things to look for in a happy marriage.
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The statistics say half of marriages end in divorce. The Gores aren't there yet, but they've announced via email they made a "mutual and mutally supportive decision" to separate.

Al Gore is a presence here in the Bay Area.  He started Current TV in San Francisco, he's on the board at Apple and he owns a high rise apartment at St. Regis tower at Third and Mission streets. So when people here heard the news, they felt like one of their own was making a life announcement.

"Who would've figured that Bill Clinton's marriage would survive and Al Gore's wouldn't?"  says Santa Clara University professor Tom Plante. The author and psychologist has counseled hundreds of couples over the years. He says power couples can be vulnerable to divorce because, as speculated in the Gore's separation, they are prone to living parallel lives.

"It's not uncommon for power couples to grow apart. They have a lot of options, a lot of possibilities and it's easy for their lives to take them in different directions," he says. "The Gores don't have to worry about money, housing…a lot of things the average American couple has to worry about [to stay together]."

It also may not have helped that the Gores married 5 years after high school.

"Lots of times the high school sweethearts are more likely to grow part because the decisions you make when you're a teen are not the decisions you make when you're 50 or 60,"  says Plante.

Professor Plante gave us three predictors for whether a marriage will survive.

  • The 5:1 Ratio - If you and your spouse have 5 positive interactions for every 1 negative interaction, that's a good sign. If it's the other way around, not so good.
  • Parallel Lives - The wife goes to Hawaii. The husband goes to Vegas. "As soon as you say I'm gonna do X when you do Y, that should be a red flag things aren't working out so great," says Plante.
  • Criticism and Defense - When your spouse tells you you're messy, do you get mad and tell him he's messier? Professor Plante says if you get defensive and can't take criticism from your partner, it makes for bad communication and a higher chance of divorce down the road.

The Daily Beast compiled 15 divorce predictors in this article. For instance, "If your parents are divorced, you're 40-percnet more likely to get divorced," or "If only one person is a smoker, you're 75% to 91% more likely to get divorced than if you were both smokers."

Here's a calculator to see if you're marriage is bound for a break-up.

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