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According to These 6 Signs, Doctor Gottman Predicts Divorce With 93.6% Accuracy

by Letters From E.K. 7 months ago in how to
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Avoid them to save all kinds of relationships

Photo by Anastasia Shuraeva from Pexels

Unpopular opinion: Relationships can be foreseeable.

Human relationships are complicated things and they require a lot of effort. But sometimes no matter what we do, things go wrong and we find ourselves faced with endless communication problems that may lead to a downfall.

It is easy to feel hopeless and lost when this occurs, but a study conducted by Doctor John Gottman has made it easier to detect these problems that may lead to the collapse of a relationship and avoid them.

In his study, Doctor Gottman observed 130 newlywed couples, and according to his analysis, he was able to predict which couples were going to divorce with 93.6 accuracy. From this research, he has found that there were 6 signs that could lead to a divorce, and since these signs are closely related to communication, they can also lead to any kind of relationship to a collapse.

These 6 signs are:

A harsh startup

The four horsemen


Body language

Failed repair attempts

Bad memories

“Successful long-term relationships are created through small words, small gestures, and small acts.”

― John M. Gottman

6 Signs That Predict Divorce

1-A harsh startup

This sign refers to the start of a discussion, and how it can affect the rest of the conversation. According to a study, the outcome of an argument can usually be predicted from observing the first 3 minutes of the argument.

Dr. Gottman suggests that when a discussion starts off with criticism or sarcasm it can be labeled as a “harsh startup”. Therefore it is important to be careful about how a discussion starts for it to be productive for everyone and not turn into a monologue for each side.

2-The four horsemen

One other sign Dr. Gottman uses in predicting a divorce is “The Four Horsemen”, which consists of criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling.

When it comes to criticism, Gottman suggests differentiating criticism from voicing a complaint. Criticism can take the form of an attack while voicing a complaint is about specific problems. This is why it is important to choose the right way to start the conversation when there is a need to talk.

Secondly, contempt.

This can take many forms from rolling eyes to ridiculing the other part but it is a dangerous game to play and Gottman especially states that this one is the greatest predictor of divorce.

Thirdly, defensiveness.

In Gottman’s explanation defensiveness is described as a response to criticism and a way to blame the other party. This is not only an inefficient way to deal with conflict but it is also a way of closing the doors to communication. Therefore to manage conflicts, avoiding defensiveness can help in getting the results desired.

Lastly stonewalling is another contributor to the downfall of relationships, and it occurs when one party stops listening and responding.

Gottman suggests that this behavior is usually a response to contempt and to avoid it, he suggests taking a break from the argument and doing something that feels nice until you feel ready to continue the discussion.


Flooding is one of the other signs of predicting a divorce because it occurs when the negativity becomes too overwhelming to handle and it puts an end to communication.

Thus to have a healthy and productive discussion about the conflicts that may arise, Dr. Gottman has a technique to solve this issue. He suggests calling a timeout with a hand signal when flooding occurs. This way the endless chain of negativity can be broken and it can be stopped before it ends the communication.

4-Body Language

In their observation, Dr. Gottman and his team have spotted several biological changes that occur during flooding which they use the term “body language” for. These changes include hormonal changes, an increase in heartbeat, as well as changes in blood pressure. In this state of stress, it psychologically becomes impossible to resolve a problem that is causing the argument. This is why it is important to stop this before you start getting controlled by it.

5-Failed repair attempts

Dr. Gottman describes repair attempts as “any statement or action, silly or otherwise, that prevents negativity from escalating out of control.”. But when these attempts fail, it can lead to an undesirable future, or in this case it is another sign of predicting a divorce.

It is stated in an article by Therapist Zach Brittle that according to the statistic, it is possible for a marriage to survive “the four horsemen” if both parties can learn to repair successfully. He also states that the people who are masters of relationships are good at repairing frequently and timely.

Therefore even though some conflicts may arise, it is possible to heal back from the arguments when the right steps are taken in repairing. These right steps can include a nice gesture, as well as a few words of an apology. But either way, knowing how and when to repair is the backbone of any relationship.

6-Bad memories

In Dr. Gottman’s observation, he has observed that when asked about their history, happy couples look at their past fondly, and talk about the positives. Also, a glorification of the hard times they’ve endured could also be observed.

But when the other couples are asked the same question, the answers they give can be in a negative tone. Therefore the perspective each person has in a relationship is a great demonstrator when it comes to a relationship lasting or not.

If these perspectives are not in the favor of the relationship, then a change in mindset is needed to be free from delusions, because only then two people can see each other without prejudices.

Final thoughts

Relationships of any kind can be difficult but there are few things that we can do to prevent these difficulties from getting the way of love and friendship. Dr. Gottman’s experiment with newlywed couples has been useful in understanding what kinds of behaviors can lead a relationship into a downfall. There are 6 signs to be careful about:

A harsh startup

The four horsemen


Body language

Failed repair attempts

Bad memories

By avoiding these, it is more likely to have efficient communication and thus a healthier relationship.

Thank you for reading.


This story was originally published on Medium.

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